Monday, October 19, 2009

Mad Love

Mad love is perhaps one of the sickest films of the mid 1930’s. It stars Peter Lorre as brilliant surgeon Dr. Gogol and Colin Clive as brilliant pianist Stephen Orlac who is married to somewhat less than brilliant actress Yvonne Orloc, played by Frances Drake.

The films starts off on a totally perverted level. Gogol is obsessed with Yvonne who is in a play that for some reason involves her getting a hot poker in her... well lets just say it is lowered between her legs and we see smoke rising as she screams.... cut to Gogol practically orgasming at the sight of it. But wait! It gets better! (Or worse depending on how you feel about that sort of thing).

Stephen Orlac is on train which has a terrible accident and loses both his hands. Yvonne appeals to Gogol to sew them back on so he can play the piano again. Of course he does, thinking her gratitude will be so great that she will put out and fulfill his , no doubt, sick fantasies about her. Since the pianist’s hands are ruined, he manages to steal a pair from a convicted murderer... who’ll know the difference? Well, Stephen for one, who now cannot play the piano, but can throw knives like a skilled assassin.

Things get worse from there as Doctor Gogol who is reduced to having a relationship with a wax dummy molded from Yvonne for one of her torture actress jobs after she refuses his advances. He, like any good doctor, then charges the couple up the wazoo for the surgery and convinces Stephen he is responsible for several murders because he is controlled by his new transplants. He does this by dressing as the hanged hand donor brought back to life in what must be the coolest halloween costume ever, metal hands and metal neck support with dark sunglasses and black hat. (I’d wear this everyday if I could!)

Does this all sound familiar? It should, this film is itself a remake of Robert Wiene’s silent «The Hands of Orlac» and based on the book by Maurice Renard of the same name. In addition, it has been done to death under various titles and in countless TV shows including one with Christopher Lee in 1960, «Hands of a Stranger» (1962), «The Crawling Hand» (1963) and even Hitchcock was in the planning stages of «The Blind Man» where instead of hands, eyes are replaced and retain the images of a murder. None, however reach the level of sick perversion of Peter Lorre’s Dr. Gogol.

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