The Mad Butcher (1971)

aka Lo strangolatore di Vienna
Article 4900 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-14-2015
Directed by Guido Zurli
Featuring Victor Buono, Franca Polesello, Brad Harris
Country: Italy / West Germany
What it is: Cannibalism comedy

A Viennese butcher is released from an insane asylum to continue his trade, but decides not to go home to his hated wife but to live in a furnished room over the butcher shop instead. When he kills his wife in a fit of temper, he disposes of the body as one would expect a butcher to do so. However, the resultant sausages turn out to be extraordinarily popular…

Usually with foreign movies, it’s best to watch them in their original language with subtitles, but there are exceptions. When the big star of a foreign movie is American and performs his role in English, it can be better to see the English dub, as is the case here. The best element of this movie is Victor Buono’s performance in the title role; his measured delivery and assured use of gesture and business make him a delight to watch, and he remains the primary reason to catch this one. However, even that delight starts to dissipate as the movie progresses; his character has a streak of sexual perversion that turns unpleasantly ugly (rather than blackly comic), and by the end of the movie, those elements begin to dominate. It’s a bit of a shame, as the movie’s humorous touches were largely working quite well up to that point. If you’ve seen other cannibalism comedies (and there are a few out there), there won’t be a whole lot to surprise you as far as the story goes, but that’s a minor quibble. In truth, I found this movie to be better than I was expecting it to be; I just wish it hadn’t turned sour at the end.

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