Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Mad Bomber (1973)



          Bottom-feeding director Bert I. Gordon is best known for his various movies about giant monsters—such as the execrable H.G. Wells adaptation The Food of the Gods (1976)—but he occasionally brought his dubious storytelling skills to bear on more conventional subjects. As the cowriter and director of The Mad Bomber, Gordon explores the dangers of deranged people walking the streets of America’s cities. Suffice to say that Gordon’s engagement with the psychological aspects of the story does not occur on an elevated plane. Quite to the contrary, Gordon presents a trite cause-and-effect explanation for why his bomber is mad, and Gordon’s dramatization of police efforts to capture said bomber imply that Gordon learned everything he knows about investigative procedure from watching bad movies. In fact, everything about The Mad Bomber is so overwhelmingly stupid that the movie passes through the Rubicon of awfulness and enters that special realm of enjoyably terrible cinema. Although The Mad Bomber is quite dull for most of its running time, every scene features a laughably nonsensical action or line or plot development.
          The demented individual referred to in the title is William Dorn, played by leather-faced TV veteran Chuck Connors in an amusingly inept performance. Driven mad by the death of his young daughter, he creates homemade bombs and detonates them at places where he believes his daughter was mistreated. Tasked with capturing the bomber is seasoned cop Lieutenant Geronimo Mitchell (Vince Edwards), a grumpy iconoclast who beats suspects, picks locks, and tampers with evidence. Caught between these two characters is rapist George Fromley (Neville Brand), who saw Dorn at a crime scene and is therefore Mitchell’s best hope for identifying the bomber. As sax-driven funk music better suited to a porno movie grinds on the soundtrack, Mitchell tries to pressure Fromley into testifying even as Dorn stalks the rapist.
          It’s all very bland, predictable, and unbelievable, with Edwards delivering a performance as indifferent as Connors’ is overwrought. On the plus side, Brand is creepy and twitchy as the rapist who also gets kicks by shooting stag reels of his mousy wife. And if nothing else, the rapist character’s final onscreen moment is laugh-out-loud funny because Gordon exhibits marvelously bad taste in the way he juxtaposes sex and violence.

The Mad Bomber: FUNKY

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