Film #277: THE MAD EXECUTIONERS aka DER HENKER VON LONDON / FELLOWSHIP OF THE FROG
The Mad Executioners (aka Der Henker von London) / Fellowship Of The Frog
3 out of 5 stars
Two classic Krimi (German murder mysteries / thrillers) films written by the great Edgar Wallace. The first film, THE MAD EXECUTIONERS, is directed by Edwon Zbonek (1964‘s MONSTER OF LONDON CITY aka DAS ENGEHEUER VON LONDON CITY) and tells a schizophrenic tale of, first off, a group of hooded vigilantes who set about hanging people who have slipped the noose of justice - ala THE STAR CHAMBER. Secondly, there’s a “sex murderer” who is beheading people as part of an experiment in which he is trying to graft the severed heads onto robots… or something. Either one of these stories would have made for a tight little Krimi film. However, someone decided to do a little stitching together of their own and the results are two halves of two decent pictures. Decent acting, solid direction, and with a great B&W look, THE MAD EXECUTIONERS suffers only from its fractured narrative and a bit of a rushed ending.
The second film in this Krimi double-feature is 1959’s FELLOWSHIP OF THE FROG (aka DER FROSCH MIT DER MASKE) directed by Harald Reinl (the documentary CHARIOTS OF THE GODS, THE RETURN OF DR MABUSE, INVISIBLE DR MABUSE) the film is about a criminal mastermind named The Frog who, with the help of his minions, are systematically robbing the safes of London. There’s a lot of skulking about and a detective who stumbles his way through the narrative. The film has its own charm, but it careens about with lots of intrigue and some of the worst fisticuffs you’ll ever see. All in all, this double-feature is a worthwhile example of 60s German mystery cinema… not the greatest the genre has to offer, but certainly not the worst.