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The Mad Magician - Blu-ray Review

3 beersDirector John Brahm knows how to create mood.  I praised his efforts in my reviews for The Lodger and The Undying Monster, but with Vincent Price in 1954’s The Mad Magician, he adds a new dimension to terror.  By mixing the 3D technology of the time period with shockingly modern elements of the horror genre, he creates a fun motion picture that is no disappearing act. 

Don Gallico (Price) is a master magician.  He is also a master of disguise and often invents the tools needed to perform the unforgettable illusions in his show.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a show.  He keeps getting railroaded.  Either by investors or other magicians, it seems poor Gallico can’t get a break.  That is until he starts murdering all the people that keep putting him down. 

And, in that way, Gallico finally gets the respect he so rightly deserves. 

Co-starring Eva Gabor, Mary Murphy, Donald Randolph, and John Emery as The Great Rinaldi, The Mad Magician behaves like a murder mystery, but – because we know who, why, and how behind the deaths – audiences see this as more of an enjoyable nugget of horror.  Price is downright evil when he finally snaps.  Gone is the patience and the understanding; he becomes a literal madman, taking delight in the squeals and screams of those who he finds worthy enough to test out his new contraptions. 

In one key sequence, Gallico is so annoyed by a business tycoon’s efforts to stop his latest show that he lobs his head off with a large buzz saw, stashes the head in a leather briefcase, and then winds up throwing the body and the head in a large bonfire the town is hosting…in disguise.

He continues the disguises throughout the film, replacing the people he’s killed in their daily lives and going about their business.  How’s that for dedication?  But like anyone so insane enough to pull a large-scale operation like this, he loses himself in the mix and ends up posing as the magician responsible for his financial ruin.  He’s bringing him more fame and more recognition while no one knows who the hell Gallico is.

Written by Crane Wilbur (House of Wax), it was a reunion of sorts for Price and the whole 3D aspect.  It is not; however, in color and that becomes a bit problematic when Price showers the audience with water from a hose.  All those tiny sprays and splats of water gets a bit (pun intended) washed out.  It’s alright, though, there are only a handful of moments in which Brahm inflicts the whole 3D aspect by calling attention to it.

Full of marvelously staged death traps, The Mad Magician is indeed an insanely fun time through the mystical arts.  It is now available on blu-ray thanks to Twilight Time and is limited to merely 3000 copies.  Get yours while you still can.


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The Mad Magician - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Not rated.
72 mins
: John Brahm
Crane Wilbur
Vincent Price, Mary Murphy, Eva Gabor
: Horror | thriller
Memorable Movie Quote: "A face I mean! The face of Ormond! That must have been his secret. How else could he have made those quick changes in his show?"
Theatrical Distributor:
Columbia Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
May 19, 1954
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
January 11, 2017
Synopsis: Columbia Pictures’ last entry in the 1950s 3D craze, The Mad Magician (1954) stars Vincent Price in a trademark role as a round-the-bend illusionist bent on revenge. Delightfully tongue-in-cheek, the film also offers some genuinely frightfest-style moments, courtesy of director John Brahm (The Lodger, Hangover Square), one of Hollywood’s foremost stylists of the macabre.


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The Mad Magician - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Twilight Time
Available on Blu-ray
- January 11, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH
English 1.0 DTS-HD MA
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc; Blu-ray 3D
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

Twilight Time presents The Mad Magician with a glorious ripe 1080p transfer, presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  With a strong 1.0 DTS-MA soundtrack, the flick shines like new.  Blacks are detailed with strong lines and nice shades of differentiation and grays are vivid.  This black-and-white horror film relies on atmosphere to carry its suspense and, as it is loaded with deep blacks and white grays, the shadows must be well defined.  All shadows are leveled appropriately, making this film a great little scare.  Details are rich and textures are thick.



  •  The commentary by Film Historians David Del Valle and Steven Peros is worth the cost of the movie alone.  Very knowledgeable and fun!

Special Features:

Twilight Time provides fans with an isolated score track, a brief look at the making of the movie and the history of its director, plus some comedy shorts from The Three Stooges.  It is a good package.

  • Master of Fright!: Conjuring The Mad Magician
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • The Three Stooges 2D/3D Shorts: Pardon My Backfire and Spooks!


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The Mad Magician - Blu-ray Review