THE HYENA OF LONDON (1964)
(a.k.a. LA JENA DI LONDRA)
Article #1541 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-3-2005
Posting Date: 10-31-2005
Directed by Gino Mangini
Featuring Bernard Price, Diana Martin, Tony Kendall
A killer known as the Hyena of London is executed. A few days later, his coffin is found empty. Soon after that, new murders start being committed in a village near London.
The title of this movie is THE HYENA OF LONDON. The movie opens with the title character’s execution, followed by the discovery that his coffin is empty. Then the movie changes locations. Pretty soon, murders begin happening all over again. Now, if you’re like me, you may not necessarily know the circumstances of the murder, but you can bet good money on one thing at least—that is, that the murders have something to do with the title character. And you’d be right; the movie does get around to establishing that the murders do have something to do with the title character (and the circumstances add a little science fiction to the plot as well as the horror elements). The only trouble is, they make no attempt to establish this connection until about five minutes before the movie ends. In short, this movie’s entire plot can be found in the first five minutes and the last five minutes of the movie.
So, what makes up the rather sizable center of this movie? Two things – incident and obfuscation. By incident, I mean that in order to have a mystery about murders, you have to spend some screen time on the murders themselves—that is incident. And by obfuscation, I mean any extraneous subplots whose sole design is to obscure the plot and fill running time, and ultimately they have nothing to do with the story. You can safely consign the sizable amount of time this movie spends on the amours of the various characters to this category.
Now, I can understand the purpose of this; after all, the movie is at least partially a mystery, and what’s a mystery without a certain amount of red herrings and misdirection? The trouble is, in a good mystery, you never realize that the red herrings and misdirection ARE red herrings and misdirection. In this one, you are keenly aware that the red herrings and misdirection are exactly that, and it makes for a frustrating and unsatisfactory viewing experience. Feel free to pass this one by.