The Mad Magician – Blu-Ray Review

This is a 1954 Vincent Price film in 3-D, made very quickly after House of Wax, the film that started the 3-D craze. Price was still a bankable star for major studios at this point, before his days of “slumming it” for Wiliam Castle and Roger Corman. Price is of course the Mad Magician of the title, a role meant to capitalise on his House of Wax success but unfortunately delayed to the extent that it came towards the end of the 3-D boom. Price’s character is Don Gallico, a designer of magic tricks who works under contract for someone else. When he tries to become a famous magician himself, his boss interferes, and Gallico goes on a killing rampage.

It’s enjoyable, murderous fun for 70 minutes. Price has been in better stuff, but you’ll like it for what it is. Even the plot itself is a bit of a House of Wax knock-off—though not as cool, and without its style, as it doesn’t have Andre De Toth at the helm. This was directed by John Brahm, a German exile like many directors at that time who worked his way up but never made a big enough movie to be remembered for. He did a lot of TV work in the 50s and 60s on all of the shows people actually remember such as Twilight Zone, The Naked City, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Playhouse 90. His final work was several episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and its lesser-known spinoff, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.

There’s nothing amazing about it, it’s just Vincent Price killing people while wearing silly disguises in a horror film with gothic style. It was also the first film ever broadcast in 3-D on television.

The disc includes both 2-D and 3-D versions of the 2K restoration, plus a new audio commentary with film historians Kevin Lyons and Jonathan Rigby; an appreciation of the film and the 3-D boom, Three-Dimensional Magic; silent and sound Super-8 versions in anaglyphic 3-D, plus two Three Stooges shorts: Spooks! and Pardon My Backfire, also in both 3-D and 2-D. In addition there’s an image gallery, the original theatrical trailer, and a limited-edition 40-page booklet with new and old writing on the film.


Ian Schultz

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