Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In Handcuffs Or A Paper Bag

Bert I. Gordon of THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN and ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE fame was the director, producer, writer (from a story by HOSPITAL MASSACRE’s Marc Behm), and cinematographer for THE MAD BOMBER, a hilarious crime drama originally distributed by Jerry Gross’ Cinemation.

THE MAD BOMBER also saw release in 1973 and for years thereafter as DETECTIVE GERONIMO, GERONIMO, CONFESSIONS OF A DIRTY COP, and THE POLICE CONNECTION, which I suppose was supposed to trick ticketbuyers into believing it was a sequel to THE FRENCH CONNECTION. No matter the title, THE MAD BOMBER is a sleazy gem with nudity, hilarious dialogue, and gore, including a stomach-churning burn victim.

Chuck Connors (DEATH IN SMALL DOSES) is incredible as William Dorn, a crazy-looking cat with wire-frame glasses who’s muy uptight about his daughter’s death from a drug overdose. Everything you need to know about this psycho is revealed in the first scene, in which Dorn intimidates a littering pedestrian (“You’re a pig! Now, go back and pick up that trash!”). Gordon shoots this opener from across the street, and I’m pretty sure the people in the background don’t know they’re watching a movie shoot.

To protest his daughter’s death, Dorn starts blowing up stuff in L.A. First, his daughter’s high school (a very effective slow-motion explosion), and then a mental hospital, where he’s seen by rapist George Fromley (LAREDO star Neville Brand), who had just finished assaulting a mute girl.

The ostensible hero is hulking cop Geronimo Minnelli (Vince Edwards, TV’s BEN CASEY), but he comes across as crazy and violent as the criminals he’s pursuing. With an intense glower and tough-guy dialogue, Edwards seems a good match for the combined lunacy of Brand and Connors, and seeing the rough-looking Neville pleasuring himself while viewing 8mm porn loops is a sight unfortunately not soon forgotten.

Geronimo is one surly cop and not a particularly good one. After discovering Dorn’s identity, he doesn’t even research him in the police computer and only finds out through an old newspaper that Dorn has a record. Gordon’s strategy of making the mad bomber a more sympathetic character than the cop chasing him is effective, and Connors’ crazed performance is a big contributor.

All three stars were very familiar from years on television, and I wonder whether 1973 audiences freaked out when seeing them in such a tawdry film. You might also recognize familiar TV guest stars Hank Brandt, Christina Hart (who appears nude), Tom Hallick, Ted Gehring, Jack Garner (James’ brother), Del Monroe, and Royce Applegate.


Richard Harland Smith said...

I love this movie. I'd love an mp3 of the closing vocal, too.

Marty McKee said...

Is that a request?

Richard Harland Smith said...

Can you do that?

Marty McKee said...

I got skills.