The Mad Executioners (1963)

aka Der Henker von London
Article 2518 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-25-2008
Posting Date: 7-4-2008
Directed by Edwin Zbonek
Featuring Hansfjorg Felmy, Maria Perschy, Dieter Borsche
Country: Germany

A secret society captures, tries, and executes criminals who have somehow managed to evade punishment by the law. A Scotland Yard inspector is on the case. He also must contend with a serial killer who decapitates his female victims.

For those interested in trying out the German Edgar Wallace thrillers of the early sixties but aren’t sure where to start, this is a good one to begin with. I don’t quite rank it with the best ones, but it’s one of the most straightforward and least confusing of the bunch, and it manages to keep the comic relief down to a minimum. Even the subplot about the serial killer weaves nicely into the main plot, and it’s this subplot that adds a goodly portion of the fantastic content to the story, with both the horror element of a serial killer and a science fiction element that manifests itself when you understand what the serial killer is trying to accomplish. Granted, the group of hooded executioners adds its own horror element as well. There are some very nice moments in this one, including a sequence where we witness two mock trials concurrently, and the moment where we discover how the executioners are able to get the noose from a locked safe. Again, it’s not the best of the genre, but it’s perhaps the most accessible.


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