I love this movie. It’s almost hard for me to give a balanced review of it. Thankfully I’m not a professional critic, I’m just a guy mouthing off on the net. So I can open a review by URGING people to rent this movie if they get a chance. They’ll thank me later.
“Mad Love” is the final directorial effort of Karl Freund. Freund was more famous as a cinematographer and worked on both Metropolis and the Tod Browning version of Dracula. He also helmed the original version of the Mummy starring Boris Karloff. So Freund’s genre chops were deep indeed. He helped create some classics. The movie is all about obsession. Dr. Gogol (the great Peter Lorre) is pretty much stalking Grand Guignol actress Yvonne Orlac (Frances Drake). She admires his skill as a doctor too much to completely brush the guy off, but she’s clearly repulsed by him and can never return the affection he’s tossing her way.
All of this tension comes to a full head of steam when Yvonne’s hubby, Stephen Orlac (the equally great Colin Clive) is injured in a terrible train wreck. Stephen is a classical pianist, and the loss of his hands means his career is over. Without missing a beat, Yvonne gets Gogol to save her husband’s livelihood, never knowing that Gogol has grafted the hands of an executed knife-wielding killer (character actor Edward Brophy) onto Orlac’s body. Now Orlac struggles with his piano, but he’s very handy with a knife.
Still, mad science kind of takes a back seat as it’s Gogol’s insane obsession with winning the love of Drake’s character that really drives the movie. Lorre really delivers as we see his character start out as slightly mad but slowly evolve into glorious full-blown insanity. And with his round, bald head & deep set eyes, Lorre is a dead ringer for a Charles Addams drawing.
The movie is the kind of heavy gothic thriller that was produced in the 30’s and 40’s but isn’t made very often any more. So the visuals are nothing short of amazing – the opening scene in the “Theatre des Horreurs” alone makes the movie worth watching. It’s touches such as these that it make easy to see why this movie has influenced everyone from Orson Welles to Tim Burton. They really don’t make them like this anymore. If you’re ever looking for old school chills, do yourself a favor and hunt this creepfest down. As I said, highly recommended.