The Mad Executioners


Director: Edwin Zbonek
Year: 1963
Rating: 6.0
Country: Germany

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.