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The Madmen of Mandoras / They Saved Hitler's Brain
Tonight's Feature Presentation

THEY SAVED HITLER'S BRAIN (1968)

aka THE MADMEN OF MANDORAS (1963)

Starring: Walter Stocker, Audrey Caire, Carlos Rivas, John Holland, Bill Freed

Written By: Peter Miles, Steve Bennett (story) Directed By: David Bradley

The Short Version

Technically, they saved Hitler’s entire head.

Yes; somebody made a movie about that.  (The Madmen of Mandoras)

Yes; somebody took that movie and then tacked extra crap onto it. (They Saved Hitler’s Brain)

Folks; it’s about Hitler’s disembodied head trying to take over the world. What can you possibly be expecting here?

If you enjoy Ed Wood style movies, this is way too much fun to miss.

The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

BEER CHEESE SOUP.

A German specialty.  Beer of dubious origin is mixed with melted cheese of dubious origin and called soup.  Sounds about right here.  Also guaranteed to cause a release of mildly toxic gas shortly after consumption.


Pairs Well With...

SCHLITZ.

No, not the frightening Malt Liquor in a can.  I mean the brown bottle beer using the old 1960s recipe.  I imagine that the film students hired to extend this flick drank a lot of it.

“Let’s all have another drink!”


Once upon a time, some people got together and made a movie about Nazis hiding out in Latin America.  But these weren’t just any Nazis; they were Nazis in possession of a deadly gas that could wipe out the entire world, and they were led by none other than… the disembodied head of Adolf Hitler!  The filmmakers called their movie The Madmen of Mandoras.  The movie was instantly forgotten, and so it might have ever remained, until…

Time passes.  Don’t ask how much; no one seems to be able to agree on that.  The dates above fall into the “best acceptable consensus” category.  But anyway.  Sometime after The Madmen of Mandoras was made, someone else thought that it would be perfect filler for a television movie time slot, except for the fact that it wasn’t actually long enough to fill said time slot.  So some film students were called in to create some extra material and splice it on to the original movie.  Oh, and the title?  Not catchy enough.  Sounds too much like a barbershop quartet.  Change it to something like, say… They Saved Hitler’s Brain… now that’s the ticket!

And so, not quite an extra half hour of crap later, we have the Frankenpicture known as They Saved Hitler’s Brain, which is at this point the most common cut available.

It should go without saying that regardless of which version you find, the result isn’t going to be pretty on any Academy’s checklist.  This is strictly Bad Movie Night material.  If you were expecting anything else out of The Madmen of Mandoras, you didn’t read the synopsis carefully enough, and if you were expecting anything else out of They Saved Hitler’s Brain, I can only conclude that you are illiterate in whatever language the title was written in on the box you picked up.  But I have more faith in you than to think that!

Either way, if you take things in the Ed Wood or MST3K spirit of “Crap can be FUN!”, then it’s actually pretty easy to enjoy either version of the film. Just sit back, have a drink, and let fly with you best Crow T Robot impression.   Fortunately, it’s really easy to spot the differences between the new and the old material, so I will provide you with a look at both versions.  (They made this even easier by putting all of the new stuff at the beginning and making very few splices.)


They Saved Hitler’s Brain

Odds are, this is the title you actually found, so we’ll start here.  Besides, you get the film students’ material right away.  (Though given the quality of their work, I suspect that they were really Sociology majors claiming to be film students in hope of making some quick beer money.  I know they weren’t English majors; I’ve heard the dialogue.  But anyway.)

I’m going to assume out first locale is outside the apartment home of one of the film students, cleverly transformed into a government research facility by means of a sign hung up on the fence.  Inside is one Dr. Bernard, carrying on the traditions of fine basement filmmaking everywhere by having ill-fitting clothing and ridiculous amounts of hair that one can only hope isn’t real.  He takes a file out of a safe, and walks out the door.  (Try not to notice the kids playing in the background of this government facility.)

Across the street, a couple of guys we might think of as out-of-shape Blues Brothers impersonators (John Belushi was positively svelte by comparison) if this movie had been made a few years later but instead must decide are just really badly dressed goombahs are watching Dr. Bernard leave.  One is talking into a phone and assures the person on the other end that “everything is taken care of.”  Needless to say, Dr. Bernard’s car blows up as soon as he gets in.  The nearby gas pumps – and by nearby, I mean maybe four feet away – do not.

Cut to the HQ of the Central Intelligence Division, because the CIA won’t touch this crap with a cattleprod.  An “agent” wearing a large rodent on his head in lieu of a haircut (henceforth here known as “Bad Hair Agent”) enters the office of his boss.  They discuss the death of Dr. Bernard, who apparently was supposed to be the only person who knew some formula or other.  According to the boss, the only copy of said formula was in Bernard’s possession when the car blew up; lab tests prove it!  (I leave it to you how any lab test then or even now can determine that a small stack of paper was being carried by a person blown to smithereens and burned up in an explosion, and that it was the only copy of said stack.)  But Bad Hair Agent is smarter than his boss.  Apparently, despite being the head of what’s supposed to be the major intelligence agency of the country, he didn’t know that Bernard stole all of his work from a different scientist, despite the fact that said professor will soon be lecturing people from this very department on the very subject of said formula!  Guess the boss is a film student.  But anyway.  He assigns Bad Hair Agent to collect dirt on this other scientist, a certain Dr. Coleman.  Don’t go near him, mind.  Just collect dirt.

Next day.  As Bad Hair Agent sits on an apartment balcony which looks oddly like it might be part of the same building we saw before as a government lab, an overweight young woman with fashion sense even worse than his pulls up in a VW Bug with a luggage rack.  She’s lost and can’t find an address.  Amazingly, it turns out that the address she was looking for is the agent’s apartment!  They’re partners!  Wow!  Amazing!

I think you’ve got the hang of it now, folks, so I’m going to start sparing some of the details; I think you can tell the quality being dealt with here, and the potential riot there is to be had making fun of it.  Feel free to come up with your own dialogue to the asinine battle of the sexes that follows (“Oh, I get it! You don’t want to work with a woman!”); I’m sure you’ll do better than the “film students”, even if you’re drunk.  Eventually, they agree to work together, and find out what they can about Coleman.

Cut to the first actual material from…


The Madmen of Mandoras

This should be obvious for two reasons.  One, the quality of the film stock changes.  Two, we’re getting a science lecture, and there seems to have been a law once upon a time that all cheesy movies had to start with a science lecture.  In this case, we’re learning about G Gas, a toxin so lethal that a single cylinder roughly the size of a standard liquor bottle could wipe out everything within 700 or 800 miles.  Turns out just about every country has it, too, but only Dr. Coleman (John Holland) has discovered an antidote.  An antidote only he knows how to make.  Thick enough with the trowel yet?  Try not to ask why something this important hasn’t been copied down and placed in safekeeping with the military and the various other government agencies he’s briefing so that, oh, in case something happens to Coleman, we still have some defense should the bad guys show up.

Oh, dear.

By the way, there’s some Latin dude out in the hall who wants to see Coleman but isn’t allowed to.  You also meet some of Dr. Coleman’s extended family; good luck keeping names straight.  (I dare you.  I just watched this an hour and a half ago, and I have to keep checking my notes.)  Just remember the guy from CID, Phil Day (Walter Stocker), who is also Coleman’s son in law.  He’s allegedly important, and will soon take up most of the screen time.  Meanwhile, though, he’s got a hot date with the wife, so he’s gotta split.

This is the cue for the phone to ring and for Coleman to find out that the daughter that Day isn’t married to has just been kidnapped.  He races to her home to find her artist boyfriend knocked out on the floor, apparently having been beaten up by the bad guys, which is indeed what he says when he comes to.  Coleman tries to call the cops, but the land line is dead.  (Don’t think about that too hard, now!)  This being the 60s, no one has a cell phone, so he runs outside to find a pay phone.

Here comes the one time the “film students” decided to try and be clever about splicing in material from The Madmen of Mandoras and…


They Saved Hitler’s Brain

In the real movie, Coleman is kidnapped by Latin bad guys.

Badly spliced into the scene, the overweight female agent sees this from across the street.  There’s also goombah footage.  Nevermind that the goombahs look about as much like the bad guys who just kidnapped Coleman as Fat Albert looks like Lisa Kudrow from “Friends”.  You’re just supposed to go with the notion that they’re the same.

End splice; back to all film students, all the time.

Agent gets into her VW Bug – the only vehicle in either movie that isn’t same approximate size, weight, and displacement of the Titanic – and gives chase through a charming suburban neighborhood that one imagines ABC later buying up as a permanent setting for their After School Specials.  Things go bad, night and day switch off at random in classic Ed Wood fashion, and she gets shot, but not before she can call Bad Hair Agent with an address. 

Bad Hair Agent shows up in due course, but Coleman is already gone.  He does, however, see his boss, who tries to shoot him.  Yes, friends, it’s a double cross!  But wait!  The girl wasn’t quite dead yet, so she manages to kill the boss and then warn Bad Hair Agent to run just before she has herself a precious little death scene.  Bad Hair Agent takes the hint and hops out the window, only to be spotted by the returning goombahs.  There’s a car chase, and then, finally, Bad Hair Agent is killed in a shower of stock footage.

Have we wasted enough time yet?  Good.  Every major character introduced during the “extra” footage created to turn The Madmen of Mandoras into They Saved Hitler’s Brain is now dead.  As I’m sure you’ve picked up by now, there was absolutely no point to any of it, save to provide future generations with the opportunity to make fun of it.  In that, I hope you’ll find they succeeded, or at least earned the case of beer they seem to have been paid with.

You may also have noticed that at no time in any of this has there been so much as a single mention of Hitler’s brain.  Just sayin’.  Oh, and we’re supposed to believe that the goombahs were Nazis.

Anyway, if you’re looking to see the real movie, you only need to have remembered the portion marked as being such above thus far; roughly seven minutes-ish of twenty-six.  From here on out, though, everything you see will be original to…


The Madmen of Mandoras

Cut to the Day residence, where we find that Phil Day has married himself the absolute ideal of the 1950s housewife, KC (Audrey Caire), who has drinks at the ready when he comes home and appears prepared to jump him or cook or clean or go out on the town whenever he so expresses the desire for any of it.  We’ll even find out later that she is highly proficient in the martial art of Flower Pot Fu.  But first, it’s time for a date!

Or, at least, it was until the Latin guy we saw trying to get into the professor’s lecture earlier shows up.  He leads them into their own car at gunpoint, and then tells them to drive.  He then apologizes, puts his gun away, and assures them that he’s a friend with important information.  Dr. Coleman, he reveals, has been kidnapped and taken to the man’s own home country of Mandoras.  He’d like to say more, but the single most hilariously bad sequence in the entire movie is about to happen.

The Days’ car weighs ancho- er, pulls up to a stop sign.

A familiarly menacing black car pulls alongside.  We pause to note that neither vehicle has a blaring stereo and that there is no loud ambient noise anywhere to be heard.

A gun-toting hand reaches out from the black car, and a deafening gunshot is heard.  The Latin guy slumps over dead and the black car speeds off.

Dialogue too hilarious to make up follows:

KC: “Pull over to the side!  Something’s wrong!”

Phil: “What’s wrong?”

KC: “I don’t know!”

Apparently, neither one heard the incredibly loud and clear gunshot or noticed that their passenger suddenly died of a bullet wound, but they do know that something’s amiss!  KC does catch on quick, though, because once they pull over, she is astute enough to observe, “Oh, Phil, he’s dead!”

Believe it or not, it gets better.

Despite the fact that people are now starting to pass by on the sidewalk, Phil and KC haul the dead guy out of the car, nod politely as the passersby, and prop the dead guy up in a phone booth.  The passersby think nothing of this.

Phil makes a call, gets no answer, and decides to leave the dead guy where he is, since “They’ll find him soon enough.”  Meanwhile, dedicated CID man that he is, he’s going to get to the bottom of things and rescue his father in law!  Off to Mandoras we go, along with the wife, who is apparently so loyal that she makes Lassie jealous.

And if you thought the stuff that happened in America was a trip and a half, well…

I’ll let you discover what happens in the lovely country of Mandoras yourself, but trust me, if you’ve had fun so far, you won’t be disappointed.  Highlights include Flower Pot Fu (“With a wife like that, who needs a girlfriend?”); revelations (finally) that they did in fact not only save Hitler’s brain but indeed preserved his entire head, which is still capable of screaming “Schnell!” from inside its glass jar (located beneath a backward swastika); the hepcat sister who actually seems to enjoy being kidnapped (“They were very nice!  They pulled a gun and told David to split and then the shaved cats said they wouldn’t hurt me if I behaved!”); and so many double and triple crosses that one figures the writers just threw darts from scene to scene deciding who was on who else’s side.  One also learns that people don’t run when you throw grenades at them, and that it’s okay to dispose of deadly gas canisters by making them explode.

I suspect that if Ed Wood ever watched this movie, he wept with joy.

As you, dear reader, may yet be driven to weep with laughter should you care to take a gander.  As noted above, whether you originally pick up The Madmen of Mandoras or They Saved Hitler’s Brain, there’s no way you come in expecting anything other than Bad Movie Night material.  And as that, either one of these titles hits a home run.  Sure, they’re bad, but only in the most delightful sense of the term.

Bottom line, both The Madmen of Mandoras and They Saved Hitler’s Brain are just plain funny.  And besides, if the version you pick up is They Saved Hitler’s Brain, you get the added bonus of being able to tell your friends what you watched last night and seeing their faces as they ask, “You watched what?”

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, September, 2011


You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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