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All Day Entertainment presents
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1962)

"When you look long into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you."
- Quotee: Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: July 15, 2000

Stars: Gert Frobe
Other Stars: Senta Berger, Helmut Schmid, Wolfgang Preiss, Akim Tamiroff
Director: Werner Klingler

Manufacturer: Complete Post
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence)
Run Time: 01h:24m:47s
Release Date: July 25, 2000
UPC: 014381965025
Genre: crime


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BBC A-

DVD Review

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, volume 2 of All Day Entertainment's Diabolical Cinema of Dr. Mabuse is somewhat of an odd duck in the Mabuse series; it is both a remake of and a sequel to Fritz Lang's 1932 film of the same title. Dr. Mabuse (Wolfgang Preiss), alive again, opens this film in a madhouse, but still seemingly somehow in control of his criminal empire; ingenious crimes of all kinds, from counterfeiting to bank robbery are all being directed from his cell. Gert Frobe of Goldfinger fame returns as the rumpled police inspector (renamed here Lohmann, to match the Lang original). Frobe does a nice job of portraying Lohmann as a well-rounded character; seeing him here makes it clear why the producers of Goldfinger tapped him for the title role. Just as Lohmann becomes convinced that Mabuse is the responsible party, the mad doctor turns up dead. What's going on? As Lohmann says, "With Dr. Mabuse, anything is possible."

Mabuse here serves as a proto-Hannibal Lecter, able to manipulate anyone with whom he comes into contact, and able to read the world outside without ever seeing daylight. He's almost a reversal of the genre of armchair mystery; instead of solving the crimes from his armchair, he's planning them. How he does it is brought out in a fairly satisfying manner, and with great style.

The film stands up well to Lang's original (at least what I've seen of it in the U.S. version presented elsewhere on this disc; I've not seen the uncut 1932 film). A number of scenes which don't work in the earlier version—notably the finale—come through much better in this remake. The film is aided by a deft cast, such as Akim Tamaroff as the disreputable ex-cop Flocke, and a thrilling jazz score with blaring sensual trumpets and heavily thumping drums. AllDay Entertainment wisely uses the sharp main title theme for both the introductory montage and the main menu; it really gets one into the mood for this kind of caper film.

The film was variously released in the U.S. under the titles The Terror of Dr. Mabuse, and more generically, The Terror of the Mad Doctor. The title sequence for the film is the former; the trailer is for the latter version.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The film is transferred from the original 35mm negative. Although the case says that the picture is digitally restored, there are numerous speckles throughout. However, there is very little significant frame damage. The blacks are excellent and the b&w picture is clear throughout. Whites are bright but not overly contrasted. Bit rates are generally around 5 Mbps, sometimes spiking up to 7 or 8.

The image on the public domain copy of the bonus film, The Crimes of Dr. Mabuse is quite poor; this is no doubt because the uncut German version will, we hope, be coming from All Day Entertainment. The picture is clearly unrestored and there is major damage and a generally murky video throughout.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoGerman, Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The audio for the main feature is a nondescript DD 1.0 mono. However, the music has good range and is seldom distorted. The English language track is poorly dubbed and sounds very ADR-produced. The German track is much more natural-sounding. Neither one has any significant noise or hiss. Unfortunately, about ten seconds of audio from the German track in chapter 28 has been lost over the years; the solution used here was to transport part of the English dub into the German audio track. This switch is a little discomfiting; I think I would have preferred having a vocal artist dub those ten seconds back into the film.

The audio on Crimes of Dr. Mabuse is downright wretched. The hiss and noise often nearly drown out the dialogue. I'm glad to have the bonus feature film, but really wish that some work had been done on at least the soundtrack.

Audio Transfer Grade: C

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Eye of Evil (US version of The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse); The Phantom Fiend (US version of The Return of Dr. Mabuse); and The Invisible Horror (US version of The Invisible Dr. Mabuse)
Production Notes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by DVD Producer David Kalat
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. History of Dr. Mabuse films
  2. Posters for Dr. Mabuse films
  3. Archive of stills
  4. Crimes of Dr. Mabuse (US version of the 1932 Testament of Dr. Mabuse
Extras Review: All Day Entertainment gives us a loaded special edition with this disc. Not only do we get another entire feature film running 01h:15m:20s (albeit in lousy condition), but there's a full-length commentary by disc producer David Kalat. He is the author of a forthcoming book on the cinema of Dr. Mabuse, which makes these releases quite timely. The first half-hour or so is dedicated to the history of the films, and not until fairly well along into the film does the commentary become scene-specific. It might have worked better to put in some specific comments in between discussing the lengthy historical aspects of these films and Fritz Lang's career. Although sometimes giving more detail than I really wanted to know, the commentary is undeniably knowledgeable and highly informative.

In addition, there's a booklet with the disc that gives the history of the Mabuse films; this isn't a little fluff piece like we usually get from MGM; this booklet is small type and packed with information. There's very little duplication between the booklet and the commentary.

The trailers for other Mabuse films are interesting, not least of all the gyrations which the American releasing companies went through to avoid any reference to Dr. Mabuse, and their attempts to make them appear to be generic drive-in horror fare, which they certainly aren't. Posters for all of the Mabuse films are included, as are a wealth of stills, thoughtfully windowboxed.

The main feature is subtitled, though Crimes of Dr. Mabuse is not. Both films are generously chaptered.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

An excellent special edition of a mostly-forgotten film. Definitely worth a look; for the sheer amount of content it's hard to go wrong here.

 


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