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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Monday, March 6, 2023

Madame Death (1969)

Dr. Favel is a mad scientist conducting experiments that involve the deaths of young women. We know this because the “star” John Carradine, who plays Dr. Favel, has a monologue before the action starts. Yep, he is talking right to the audience.

When the movie starts we are introduced to Marlene who is married to a man that can’t stop talking about death. In fact, they are rolling around in bed and he is still all mopey about his impending doom. Brother that is a pretty lady right there, get your head in the game! Anyhow he has some sort of episode, and he tells her to call Dr. Favel. She doesn’t want to because the doctor has been dismissed due to his theories and actions. But he insists so she does. Then we see them in the laboratory with Dr. Favel and his hunchbacked assistant (not much of one but it is there depending on the scene). He announces a terminal cancer diagnosis and offers a special treatment that immediately kills the husband.

But lucky for Marlene he offers to bring him back to life if she gives him all of her blood. So the next night she tries to do just that, but it fails and she is horribly scarred. But then the doctor tells her he can fix that and cure her husband being dead if she brings him the blood of other young women. Okay Marlene should have figured by this point that he was a bad doctor, but instead she starts to kill folks and drain their blood. For some reason this also temporarily cures her scars. I mean she doesn’t take a shot or have some formula from the doctor… it just happens. Eventually the police figure it out, she runs back to the lab, the doctor reveals that it was his plan all along for her to get sick and die so he could do another experiment. And the hunchback blows the lab up. The end.

This movie makes no sense. The story is a muddled mess that has no logical plot at all. Why does killing make her scars go away? Why does she keep trusting the doctor after he repeatedly screws up? How does she go from nice to murderous monster in a hot minute? Toss in odd choices like her just showing up at wax museum to throw acid on a guy so she can then lure her actual victim there for what seems to be the sole purpose of guillotining her after draining her of blood! That seems overly complicated and pointless. But that is pretty much how I’d describe the plot of Madame Death, so I suppose that makes some sense.

The “star” John Carradine is barely in the movie. They must have only had him a day because all his scenes are on the same set with just three of the other characters. This is an early example of what I like to call “stunt casting”. Basically putting someone in the movie so you can feature them on the poster when they have hardly anything to do with the proceedings. Being a production in Mexico featuring a cast entirely of Spanish speaking stars I’m guessing this was done to sell it to an American audience. Not a bad business idea but it doesn’t help the movie as entertainment.

I did like a few things about the movie. The soundtrack has a groovy late sixties vibe. The makeup when Marlene “monsters” out is a very simple appliance, but it looks decent and gets the job done. We also get a mad scientist lab done on a budget that looks cool. But other than these I can’t find a lot of positives about Madame Death. I had some hope for the movie as I’ve seen a lot of great Mexican horror from the fifties and sixties but this one isn’t among them. I can’t recommend it.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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