Edgar Wallace Collection
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Father-and-son writing duo Edgar Wallace (co-creator of King Kong ) and Bryan Edgar Wallace bring the mystery and thrills-you just bring the popcorn! In The Fellowship of the Frog (Joachim Fuchsberger. 1959/89 min.), murder, kidnapping and seduction ensue when an amateur American sleuth tracks a blowtorch-wielding master criminal to his lair. Son Bryan then puts pen to paper with the atmospheric story of hooded torturers who behead their victims in The Mad Executioners (Hansjrg Felmy. 1992/63 min.). B&w/NR/fullscreen & widescreen.
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A quick note about reviewing these films in general.....
Grading genre films like Krimi is a funny thing. I feel you have to grade the film based on its own genre. So, if you only like films such as Godfather, Taxi Driver, etc., then Krimi may seem a bit over the top and silly. However, if you truly love the genre, not for its "kitsch" factor, or in some Greenwich Village "ironic" way, then this DVD set is sure to please you!
Mad Executioners, one of the better krimi, is presented in 2.35:1 in beautiful B&W. Film itself is 5/5.
Frog is 1.33:1, which is its original format. So, there will not be a "widescreen" version. It is from 1959 and this is just the way they decided to film it. Nothing wrong with that. The film is good, above average for a second billing picture on these dvd sets. 3.5/5 stars.
There is some atmosphere of the dry ice smoke machine kind and the location chosen by the titular executioners imbues the viewer with mild dread. Cinematography is good, this is a very low budget production which the skill of the set designer and camera person manage to overcome.
Unfortunately the story is developed slowly, setting up many a red herring. There are some small magic moments to enjoy which I won't spoil for you, but this is not as good a piece of movie-making I was hoping for.
Mad Executioners is presented in wide-screen. I've yet to view the second movie on this disc which sadly is non-wide-screen.
On the strength of the first film I'd find this difficult to recommend to anyone like myself taking their first dive into the cinematic world of Edgar Wallace. Perhaps another Amazon customer can recommend a better film adaptation available on DVD.
My favorite scene in FELLOWSHIP OF THE FROG (1959) is when master criminal, the Frog, flips out at the whining babe he has strapped to a chair, and instead of torturing her with a red hot poker opts for grabbing a machine gun and emptying it into her helpless body, steadily firing long after her limp form, still strapped to the chair, has hit the floor, ranting on about his criminal superiority. It's just so sudden and over the top! And this was 1959!...And this is in no way a spoiler to enjoying this weird b&w stylistic thriller as the scene holds no key to giving away the plot development.
The better film, though not by much, and only in my humble opinion, is THE MAD EXECUTIONERS (1963), about a Scotland Yard investigator trying to unravel the mystery behind a secret hooded organization that captures, tries and executes criminals who are beyond the reach of the law for crimes against society. It's one of the better, if not the best, in the entire series of around 30+ films roughly covering 1959-1969. This one is presented in wide-screen and has a very "modernist" look to it with a sex killer who lives in an artistic (morbid paintings, modern sculpture) bachalor pad, complete with basement lab for easy decapitation.
These two films teamed together are a pretty good example of what is going on in the Krimi genre, one early and one in the Edgar Wallace series prime, though Edgar's son, Bryan Edgar Wallace is responsible for THE MAD EXECUTIONERS. And the prints are in pretty good shape as well, and though scratches appear on both films, the images are for the most part sharp and very watchable.
Very entertaining stuff that really needs to be seen and appreciated by a wider audiance.
Give it a try.