Why is this magician mad? Is that mad/angry or mad/looney? Why I am asking so many questions? I think the answers are in order-I’ll tell you soon, mad/looney and just to be different or difficult depending on your view. A guy who invents tricks (Vincent Price) for other magicians decides to be a magician himself and use his own tricks. However the rear end he works for shuts his show down and uses legal stuff to say the tricks he made belong to the rear end and not the would be magician. The rear end is going to give these tricks to a blowhard magician. Our would be magician goes on slow burn and in a conflict he later goes on full throttle kill mode grrrrrrrrrrr. However he gets less mad after killing his boss and decides he could do more by using make-up to become the guy he killed and make decisions as that guy to benefit himself-him being the Vincent Price character. Wait..what? Oh just hang in there. Things go well for Price in disguise until the wife of his disguised self who is also the ex-wife of his non disguised self discovers who he reall is..huh? Just know that he kills her (Eva Gabor of Green Acres). So yeah more blood on his hands. The mean magician from before is Rinaldi. He schemes to steal tricks from Price again but he lives happily ever after… who am I kidding? He dies in a horrible manner and Price take his identity so he he can now do the tricks he wants even if it is while he impersonates another guy. This all might have worked out except Price’s friend has a cop boyfriend on the case and Price ran into a nosy woman/mystery writer while he was in disguise and she knew something wasn’t right. These two along with a new fangled process called finger printing manage to eventually figure what Price has done. This leads to an unfortunately rather dull confrontation and of course Price on the wrong end and roll those credits.
The negatives-This film is often critisized for lack of creativity as it pulls some ideas from Price’s previously successful horror venture House of wax. I think more than anything it’s an uneven film with lots of ideas stuck here and there plus it lacks suspense. Oh and I already said the ending is weak. A strong finale would have really helped, but it didn’t happen.
The positives-The film is in black and white and makes decent usage of it. I like the magic workshop and the theaters.The turn of the century sets are in general solid. Vincent Price does his best with the film and keeps it rolling it along more than it would have with a lesser star.
I come back to this film every few years. I wish it were a little better than it is, but I still watch it and appreciate the parts that work.