Mansion of Madness, the
Like Jodorowsky's EL TOPO, which features many of the same cast and crew, MANSION is a wild, psychedelic nightmare, imbued with the freewheeling vibe of the late 1960s.
Based on a story by famed horror writer Edgar Allan Poe, the film is set in a kind of kingdom of madness - a huge insane asylum presided over by notorious brigand, Raul Fragonard. He has locked up the institution’s director and set the lunatics free. A visting journalist uncovers the secret behind the Mansion of Madness, but soon finds himself on trial before a host of crazed lunatics - whose ultimate aim is world domination. EXTRAS: Featurette on the film's director (15 mins)
Interview with director Guillermo del Toro (Blade 2; Hellboy) who talks about the film, its director and star Claudio Brook (12 mins)
Original theatrical trailer (4 mins)
Audio options include a Spanish language version with optional English subtitles and an English language version An image gallery consisting of the original material used to promote the film in the US, including posters and stills
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Unlike Alucarda, the premise of The Mansion of Madness provided Moctezuma with a concept in which to explore his Surrealist inclinations, and let his crazed imagination run wild. The film also reveals Moctezuma dabbling with absurd humor, the results of which are quite funny, and again help solidify his association to Surrealism. Although this film marked his directorial debut, Moctezuma's direction seems confident, his artistic vision clear, and he does not display many of the telltale signs of a novice director. In addition, the cinematography is of a high caliber, as are many of the performances from a very large cast. In this type of a story the mise-en-scene is crucial and thankfully the locations are wonderful, helping to create a palpable atmosphere of decay, and yes, madness. Perhaps due to the freewheeling nature of the narrative, the film does tend to lag on occasion. However, there is enough going on throughout to hold the viewer's interest, and the final fifteen minutes (highlighted by inmates performing a synchronized chicken dance) are well worth waiting around for.
This is another fine release from Mondo Macabro, featuring a great film transfer and a Spanish audio track with English subtitles. The handful of extras include - a director bio, the U.S. trailer, an interview with director Guillermo del Toro (also on the Alucarda disc) who discusses Moctezuma and actor Claudio Brook, an essay on the film, a director filmography, and a Mondo Macabro trailer highlighting past, present, and future releases.
The original version is 'Mansions of Madness'. This truncated version was made for the more exploitative US market. The print quality of this version is lacking, but is still a must-see if you cannot get your hands on the original version.
First, despite any of the number of things that would suggest this is a horror movie, THE MANSION OF MADNESS really isn’t exactly a horror movie. It’s not without its shocking and disturbing visuals, but they’re not the whole package and, truth be told, THE MANSION OF MADNESS is more or less an art film. Not that horror films can’t be art films or vice versa, but some movies are just, plainly and simply, arthouse movies. This one, from the director of ALUCARDA (a horror film, and one whose review will appear here very shortly), and allegedly inspired by a Poe tale, is a deliberate exercise in absurdism. Reminiscent of not only Fellini but also Spain’s Fernando Arrabal - in fact, kind of a mixture of those two - this movie proves the mettle of its title by offering up a setting that is none other than a mansion. Of madness. But don’t expect just any old asylum or what not; this thing’s packed with loonies but the guy in charge also clearly needs an OUT OF THE OFFICE sign on his own gourd. Therapy amounts to “explore your creativity,” which, to be more specific, amounts to some pretty extreme s***. There’s a giant metal structure that, when finished, will supposedly be able to connect with the nervous system. There’s a guy who has embraced chickenhood - being a bird, I mean, not being a coward. There are all sorts of bonkers but beautiful visuals on display in the film’s foray through the titular madness. One could endlessly debate what it all means, but I’ll leave that to the viewer. Which is you. What? Yes, you can be a reader and a viewer, just not generally at the same time.