10 years ago today, on a cold October night with the wind howling and the leaves rustling I started on an endeavor that would soon become a yearly ritual. I began writing about my favourite horror movies, one a day for the entire month of October. I came up with not too original title 31 Days of Horror and in the years since I have written about a lot of horror movies. There have been my favourites, thrilling horrors, monstrous horrors, great horrors, around the world horrors, b-movie horrors, Hammer horror, spooky space horrors and Canadian horrors. As this is my 10th year I’ve decided to commemorate with my absolute, all-time favourite horror films.
To start things off I’ve decided to go back to the beginning with the first horror movie that I wrote about kicking off 31 Days of Horror. Mad Love was released in 1935 and marked Peter Lorre’s American debut.
Based on Maurice Renard’s story The Hands of Orlac Lorre stars as a brilliant surgeon named Dr. Gogol who is love with an actress named Yvonne Orlac (Frances Drake). Yvonne performs in Paris at a Grand Guignol like production called Théâtre des Horreurs but is leaving because her husband, the brilliant pianist Stephen Orlac (Colin Clive) is moving to London. Gogol is distraught and steals a wax statue of her to keep for himself.
Stephen is in a train wreck which damages his hands beyond repair. Desperate Yvonne goes to Gogol for help. Gogol agrees to help them and transplants the hands of the recently executed killer known as Rollo the Knife thrower (Edward Brophy) onto Stephen. Stephen finds himself unable to play the piano with his new hands but slowly finds himself quite adept at throwing knives. Gogol becomes more obsessed with Yvonne while Stephen finds himself questioning his own sanity.
Directed by legendary cinematographer Karl Freund who also directed The Mummy in 1932 the movie is an excellent moody thriller and Lorre is brilliant as the mad love obsessed doctor.