The Mad Executioners
Director: Edwin Zbonek
A.K.A. - The Hangman of London
A.K.A. - Der Henker von London
This German crime film or as they became known as "Krimis" during the 1960's
has great black and white atmospherics even if the plot doesn't really hang
together all that well. Many of these "krimis" were based on the stories
of Edgar Wallace but this one is actually based on a book by his son, Brian
Edgar Wallace. Initially the film was promoted as a film based on Edgar Wallace's
work until the company Rialto which had the rights to Edgar Wallace's books
sued this company. Many of the films based on Wallace's works take place
in England as this one does and it takes some getting used to hearing Germans
playing English people speaking German. Especially if Scotland Yard is involved.
It begins with an eerie group of men adorned in black robes and black hoods
gathering in a dungeon to pass judgement on men who have escaped justice.
One fellow used defective materials in his building and when it collapsed
people were killed; another very bizarrely killed his brother, mummified
him and sent him to a museum in Egypt as a newly discovered pharaoh! They
all get the thumbs down and are hung in various public places around London
with all the evidence pinned to their clothes.
Scotland Yard is on the case - sort of - Inspector Hillier (Hansjorg Felmy)
seems out of his depth especially when it becomes known that the hanging
rope kept in Scotland Yard's museum keeps being used to hang these men. His
superior (Wolfgang Preiss) is not pleased. You will likely recognize the
actor Preiss as he often showed up as a Nazi in many Hollywood films in the
1960's (Is Paris Burning, The Train, Von Ryan's Express) as well as Dr Mabuse
in a few Krimis.
On top of this there is a serial killer who is killing women and detaching
their head before dumping the bodies. Hillier whose sister was one of these
headless victims decides it is a great idea to use his girlfriend (Maria
Perschy) as bait for the killer. She isn't the brightest either, as she follows
him to his home and drinks his tea. Never a good idea. Perschy was to go
on to appear in loads of genre films and gain a solid fan base.
It is by modern standards quite tame with no graphic violence but it plays
out creepily in the famous London fog and has a final fifteen minutes that
gets quite good.