Just as he’s about to hit the big time with his super-secret buzz-saw trick, however, his show gets axed and his boss claims proprietary rights to all of Gallico’s stage tools. As all mad magicians as wont to do, Gallico snaps and kills the guy by — and this fits the theme — decapitation via saw. Others who dare cross our antihero also fall prey to equally twisted fates.
Moving along at a brisk pace for the entirety of its 1:15 running time, The Mad Magician is jusssst twisted enough to keep today’s finicky audiences transfixed, although the film by director John Brahm (TV’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) lacks the gore they may expect. (They can get it from Herschell Gordon Lewis’ The Wizard of Gore, which offered a bloody take on similar material, nearly 15 years later.)
Originally released in 1954, The Mad Magician makes a long-overdue, welcome DVD debut from Sony Pictures’ Choice Collection of manufactured-on-demand discs. For Price fans in particular, it’s a must. —Rod Lott