Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Mad Bomber (1973)

Bert I. Gordon, one of the best monster-makers ever, turned around his career around to something grittier and maybe more serious during the seventies, and one of the first movies to show this was The Mad Bomber. It was released in two versions, one very tame TV-style movie with very little exploitation. The version I’ve just seen is called The Police Connection (but I will call it The Mad Bomber) and is very different from the earlier version when it comes to violence and sleaze. This is very for from The Magic Sword!

Chuck Connors is a bitter and crazy man, William Dorn, who just started to take revenge on society with dynamite! His daughter died of a drug overdose and now he blames EVERYONE for what happen to her! One night he sneaks into her old hospital to place a bomb, but accidentally disturbs a notorious serial rapist, George Fromley (Neville Brand), who sees him. When the police understand that the rapist and bomber is not the same person, they need to catch Fromley and make him identify the bomber… In the meantime, Dorn is blowing up everyone that irritates him!

Yes, this version of The Mad Bomber is a helluva lot more powerful story than the earlier version I’ve seen. The atmosphere is grittier, dirtier and way more cynic. Chuck Connors makes a great performance as Dorn, and is physically very threatening with his tall body, wide shoulders and staring small eyes – behind a couple of corny glasses. Both him and Neville Brand do wonderful jobs with their baddies, which can be rare in smaller exploitation movies. Up against them is Lieutenant Geronimo Minneli, played by Vince Edwards – an actor I don’t have much memory off, but he also do a darn fine job as a tough cop.

Like all movies directed by Bert I. Gordon this one is also very visual, with some cool special effects. The explosions look very dangerous and big, and we’re treated to some nice stunts. In this version there’s also some gory aftermath to the explosions too, and it becomes really gory in the final shot! But the sleaze is the biggest difference, with a lot of nudity and sexual situations. Even Neville Brand gets a chance to spank his monkey in front of a nudie movie he made with his wife, which ends in a different explosion than he probably imagined.

The only way to watch The Police Connection is to find some old tape, bootleg or download it. A damn pity, because I would LOVE to see a restored version on DVD. This could be a title for Code Red, they would do wonders with it.

Bert I. Gordon never mention it in his book, but it would be interesting too hear/read his thought about directing actors. Usually in his movies the performances are very good, or at least very enthusiastic. In The Mad Bomber we’re talking both great acting and great bombing!

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