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Mad Love

USA 1935
produced by
John W. Considine jr for MGM
directed by Karl Freund
starring Peter Lorre, Frances Drake, Colin Clive, Ted Healy, Sara Haden, Edward Brophy, Henry Kolker, Keye Luke, May Beatty, Ian Wolfe, Nell Craig, Charles Trowbridge
screenplay by P.J. Wolfson, John L.Balderston, based on the novel The Hands of Orlac by Maurice Renard, music by Dimitri Tiomkin

Hands of Orlac

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Doctor Gogol (Peter Lorre), a brilliant scientist, loves actress Yvonne (Frances Drake), but she simply isn't interested in him but loves her husband, pianist Orlac (Colin Clive) instead. Then Orlac has an accident in which he loses his hands, and Yvonne begs Gogol to cure him - so Gogol gives him the hands of the recently executed knifethrowing killer Rollo (Edward Brophy).

During his time of recovery, Orlac, who doesn't even know he has new hands, notices he can't properly play the piano anymore but is one hell of a knifethrower. Often he throws knives even before he notices what he's doing, too. This starts to worry Orlac, so he turns to Gogol for advice - but Gogol suddenly has an infernal idea: He decides to mentally suggest to Orlac he has been taken over by the hands of Rollo and has turned into a knifethrowing killer just like him, then Gogol kills Orlac's stepfather (Ian Wolfe), whom he hated, and suggests that Orlac did it himself without knowing it. Orlac soon gives himself up to the police.

Now Yvonne comes to Gogol for advice, but instead of him she finds a wax mannequin of herself, which she accidently breaks, and when Gogol comes home from making Orlac believe he's a killer (in some very grotesque outfit he needed to convince Orlac he is Rollo who has come back to the grave, Yvonne takes the place of her wax mannequin to hear Gogol confessing to everything. Eventually, she just can't keep still anymore, but Gogol has all of a sudden gone crazy, and thus only thinks it's her mannequin come to life (!), and for whatever reason he immediately wants to strangle her ... but by then, the police has come to the conclusion that Orlac hasn't killed his stepfather after all, and they now go after Gogol, and when they find him strangling Yvonne, it's a knife thrown by Orlac that kills Gogol and saves the day.


On the surface, this is one great-looking movie, it's realized by master cinematographer and occasional director Karl Freund with a great sense for style and atmosphere alike, and looks like one of the greatest gothics ever. The thing is, the film looks great, but storywise it's a positive stinker: Believability is continuously strained way beyond breaking point, all of the plottwists are so ridiculous it's nothing short of pathetic, and one can't credit the entire ensemble enough to make it through the extended finale without bursting out in laughter. Oh, and by the way, can anybody explain to me the narrative necessity of the American reporter (as played by Ted Healy)? Not only does he seem out of tune with the rest of the cast, he also seriously gets in the way of the film's pacing and atmosphere - and if he's meant to be funny (I really don't know), it just doesn't work.

That all said, the film is still worth a look for its visuals, but whoever calls it a classic clearly didn't bother to follow its plot.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD