B Movie Challange: The Mad Magician (in 3D)

Step right up! Come on In! We have such sights to show you (what’s in the box?) here at Don Gallico’s Magical Misery Tour! Even if heads might roll (and they will in three glorious dimensions, unless you watch it on VHS) you will get every single pennies worth! If you dare to step behind the blood-soaked curtain, you will see the master of macabre, Vincent Price, change right before your very red (and blue) eyes! Hurry, hurry, hurry! The Mad Magician, an enchanting cheaper version of Price’s own House of Wax 3D, is so astonishing, astounding, and amazing, that you won’t believe your very own eyes!

When the filmmakers of Bwana Devil premiered their new 3D projection wonder, producers from across the savannah began to bewitch audiences with the gimmick of throwing all they could at the screen, and what better genre than the horror to pull cinematic rabbits out of a hat? Vincent Price is not only a treasure as the dangerously diabolic Gallico, but he holds the record in the 50s for being in the most 3D movies of this period (Dangerous Mission and Son of Sinbad being the others). 3D certainly can charm those who delve into its wizardry and this film delivers the shocks with not only cheaper tricks (like throwing a yo-yo towards the screen) but also takes it a step further with special tricks like squirting water toward the audience and an ending ablaze with wonder. Using clever angles to sell the three-dimensional is not an easy trick of the sleeve and the filmmakers do not waste a frame during this fascinating conjuring. 

In the late 19th century, Insane (in the membrane) Magician Don Gallicio, a jack of all trades in the illusionary arts, finally is getting his chance to presto to the big leagues with his new chainsaw trick. Sadly he did not see the fine print in invisible ink from his contractor, and just like that… ABRACADABA! All his hard work is stripped away. Unfortunately for the contractor, Gallicio can keep the mysticism of his act a secret, especially when it involves the head of the contractor rolling loose in the streets! As people try to steal Gallicio’s tricks, he begins to steal their souls!  The police begin to connect the dots and, with the help from a wannabe Agatha Christie with rooms to rent, the police follow the rabbit tracks to Gallico, ending in a fiery spectacle that leaps off the stage in this visual Theurgy of the darkest kind. 

Hypnotizing you at a short seventy-three minutes, and directed by veteran director John Brahm (who gave us classics such as Siren of Atlantis and Hot Rods to Hell), this was the first 3D film ever to be broadcast on national TV with the red and blue glasses mailed out to homes. You can find the film streaming on Tubi and Prime, but if you can find this antique be sure to get the super 8mm print which came with a free set of 3D glasses! So ignore the man behind the curtain, hex yourself up a special helping of Rabbit stew, and feast your eyes on the miraculous and spellbinding trunk of cinematic devilry! 

About Ian Klink

As a filmmaker, writer, and artist, Ian Klink’s work includes the feature film Anybody’s Blues and short stories for Weren't Another Way to Be: Outlaw Fiction Inspired by Waylon Jennings, Negative Creep: A Nirvana-Inspired Anthology, A-Z of Horror: U is for Unexplained, The Creeps, Vampiress Carmilla, The Siren’s Call, and Chilling Tales For Dark Nights. Born and raised in Iowa, Klink lives with his family in Pennsylvania where he shares his talents as a teacher of multimedia studies.

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