Though recently released from the loony bin, The Mad Butcher Otto Lehman (Victor Buono) is still seriously unhinged. With a healthy appetite for good meat and pretty women, Otto resumes his profession as "the best butcher ... more »in Vienna" while obsessing over Berta, a sexy neighbor who loves undressing in front of her window. But when Otto's nagging wife, Anna, threatens to have him recommitted, Otto strangles her, then turns her into a string of delicious sausages. With his meat treats the hit of Vienna, Otto continues to grind people into sausage links until a suspicious crime reporter tries to stop him before Berta is added to the menu.« less
"From distributor Harry H. Novak, purveyor of fine, wholesome sleaze from all across the globe, among other things, comes The Mad Butcher (1974), originally released as Lo Strangolatore di Vienna (1971). Directed by John Zurli aka Guido Zurli (Slave Girls of Sheba, Black Deep Throat), this Italian production features Victor Buono (What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte), probably known best as the portly, evil villain King Tut ("If the caped crumb is here, the cowled creep can't be far behind."), from the late 1960s Batman television series. Also appearing is cinematic muscleman Brad Harris (Goliath Against the Giants, The Fury of Hercules), Franca Polesello (Mole Men Vs. the Son of Hercules), and Karin Field (Night of the Vampires, The Devil's Girls).
Buono plays Otto Lehman, a butcher by trade, who, up until recently, had been locked away in a Vienna mental institution for beating on an annoying customer with a few pounds of liver (it was either the nut farm or jail). I say `recently' because Otto has been pronounced cured by his doctor (and he's got the certificate to prove it), ready to be released back into society, into the arms of his incessantly nagging, overbearing wife Hanna (Polesello). Upon returning to his butcher shop, he finds things in a state of filthy disarray, as Hanna's fat, hairy, incompetent, mole-like brother has been fumbling along in Otto's absence. Otto quickly begins to set things in order, and we see he hasn't lost his touch with the cleaver. Ah, nothing like seeing a true artesian practicing his craft. Otto refuses to move back to his home with his wife (I don't blame him, as she's a real piece of work), instead occupying the room above the shop, where the view ain't so bad as his neighbor Berta (Field) can often be seen combing her hair all nekkid in front of her window...homina homina...things seem to be progressing, but Hanna is a persistent pain, one Otto finally disposes of in a fit of anger. Question now is what to do with the body? Well, as Otto would say, "Meat is meat"...yes, Otto turns her into sausages, and boy, do they sell! Meanwhile, Mike Lawrence (Harris), foreign correspondent, whose been itching for a story, begins to pitch woo to Berta. Some stuff happens, some more people end up in Otto's sausage press, and the authorities begin to get suspicious, as does Hanna's brother (boy, he'd make a whole shop full of sausages), about the increasing number of missing people. Mike believes Otto's involved somehow, but due to lack of evidence, the police are stumped...and all the while the people of Vienna continue to comment on Otto's delicious sausages. Eventually things come to a head as Otto's passions for Berta get the best of him, and the police discover some unusual and telling clues in the oddest place...
Given the title of this feature I was expecting a whole lot of blood, but I was pleasantly surprised. There were a few murders by strangulation, but there was no actual butchery of any of the victims, as that aspect of the story was all implied. Some might be disheartened by this complete lack of gore, but I rather liked the tact the story took, focusing on the unexpected comedic nature of the characters, rather than wallowing around in blood and guts, which, quite honestly, I don't dig on a lot, except for when the mood strikes me. There's nothing wrong with a little slice and dice, a little hack and slash, a little gouging and disemboweling, but there's plenty enough of that out there as is, so it was a nice change of pace to dabble in the psychological rather than the visceral. I think Buono did a wonderful job in one of his few leading roles, presenting a character somewhat charming on the surface, but one tinged with a touch of the madness on the inside, ultimately making the best of his situation. As far as the other performers, most did well enough, but Harris was awkward to say the least...when he wasn't as stiff as a board, he was way over the top. He did make a likely hero, but also an annoying one given his constant interference and seeming `know-it-all' attitude. Yeah, yeah, he was a reporter, and perhaps this is common to their ilk, but he seemed to spend more time wooing Berta and throwing accusations about than he did working his beat. I suppose it was a good thing, with regards to the story, he was as he was, given the incompetence of the authorities depicted within this film. But then I suppose I'm losing sight this is black comedy, and not a straight up horror film. There was some much appreciated nekidness, particularly on Ms. Field's part...her facial features left a little to be desired (too eastern European for my tastes), but she had an awfully nice, all natural body. The story moves along fairly quickly, exhibiting no giant, gaping holes, but it did leave me wanting just a little, in terms of a proper disposition of the character Mrs. Kuntzmann (I think that was her name). This was the old, cranky, vile, hairy mole on her face crone Otto initially attacked (with probable cause after meeting her), which resulted in him being sent to the mental hospital in the first place. She makes a couple of appearances, verbally abusing Otto and throwing accusations about that he killed one of her precious cats (actually he did, but his intent didn't seem that specific at the time). If anyone in this film deserved to be turned into mince pies, it was this hag, and it never happened...ah well...my favorite part of the film was near the end, as the police discover, in a manner of speaking, what Otto's been using as source materials for his tasty sausages. As I said, the film does move along well, providing some actual tension here and there, culminating in better than expected fight scene between Mike and Otto, followed by a predictable, yet exquisitely appropriate, ending.
The picture quality, present in widescreen (1.85:1), on this Something Weird Video/Image Entertainment DVD, looks very sharp and clean, and the Dolby Digital audio is decent, but a little soft at times. As far as extras, there's quite the cornucopia including a theatrical trailer for this film, along with ones for a slew of other Harry H. Novak films like Mother (1970), Axe (1977), The Beautiful, the Bloody, and the Bare (1964), Behind Locked Doors (1968), Caged Virgins (1971), The Child (1977), Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks (1974), and Rattlers (1976). Also included are a pair of short features, one titled Cannibal Island (9:49), featuring `authentic' footage of cannibals dancing around and such, the second titled Cannibal Massage (20:05), which features a whole lot of the homoerotic. Finishing out the list of extras is a gallery of Harry H. Novak exploitation art, accompanied by Horrorama radio-spot rarities.
He makes the best sausage in vienna
cookieman108 | 04/04/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
""I make the best sausage in Vienna" claims the mad butcher (a rotund fella by the name of Victor Bueno). And so he does. People from all over come to taste his famous delicacies. Seasoned with Human flesh. Aw hell, not only seasoned, it is human flesh! That is the premise for this one. Did I mention he's an ex mental patient? And he has a thing for nubile young women? Ok. so this is not the most original of fare. Still, this film succeeds in making you smile at its cleverness. Of course, later when your eating that sausage for dinner, this story has a way of popping up in your mind. Its cheap, its corny and its got a dark irony that is hard to come by these days.In a belecose voice, the butcher says to one of his victims "you slut, how low and cheap you make yourself..this is not a whorehouse!". Then he throws her in the meat grinder and serves her up to the public. Delicious!"
A Eurosleaze black comedy classic!
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 10/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What is the best thing about watching scads of horror and exploitation films? Thanks to DVD, it's the fact that every week seems to bring to light another obscure classic. I live out in the Midwest, which essentially translates into a desert as far as risqué video rental stores go, so the ability to rent and buy titles I've never heard of through the mail makes my heart sing. Of course, none of this would matter if there weren't a bunch of little companies springing up every year devoted to the ins and outs of schlock cinema. One of the most notable purveyors of sleazy movies is Something Weird Video. The company started as a bootlegger of obscure videotapes back in the 1980s before jumping on the DVD bandwagon a few years ago. They own thousands of cheesy old flicks, and it's only recently that I'm beginning to explore their collection in earnest. After I worked my way through their collection of Herschell Gordon Lewis gore flicks, I waited awhile before renting another film from their catalogue. I chose to return with Guido Zurli's "The Mad Butcher," and I'm glad I did! I'm going to watch more Something Weird films in the near future.
The title of the film, "The Mad Butcher," makes it sound like the viewer is in for a healthy dose of good old fashioned '70s gore. Nope. We get hardly a splash of the red stuff in Zurli's campy film. What we do get is Victor Buono, who I last saw creeping through the darkness that is "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane," as the titular character in a comedy as black as pitch. Buono plays Otto Lehman, an Austrian butcher of fastidious character whose assault on a customer due to a mental lapse sent him to the local laughing academy for a spell. Now he's out with a clean bill of health from his shrink and ready to resume his duties at the butcher's shop. Problems assail him as soon as he walks in the door. His wife Hanna (Franca Polesello) personifies the word "nag," and she starts wearing on him immediately about moving in back home. Otto, however, wishes to live in an apartment above his shop. Further complicating matters is the presence of Otto's squirrelly and disheveled assistant. He ran the shop during Lehman's absence, but the high prices he charges and the unclean appearance of the store send Lehman's blood pressure through the roof. Our hero immediately takes charge of the situation.
Meanwhile, across town we see an American reporter named Mike (Brad Harris) complaining to the local police inspector that Vienna is a city lacking important and sensational stories. Wanna bet that's going to change in the near future? Sure enough, the movie takes great pains to show us the forces slowly bringing Otto Lehman to his knees. His wife keeps popping up to hassle him about undercharging customers, begs him to return home and live with her, and becomes furious when she catches Otto spying on a beautiful neighbor by the name of Berta (Karin Field) who lives next door. The portly butcher takes most of this harassment in stride, but we can see his carefully cultivated sanity starting to slip. Let's see--a butcher with a mental problem, a nagging wife, a need to turn a profit at the shop. I wonder what'll happen next? Sure enough, Otto develops a new type of sausage that is cheap and tasty, a sausage made from a very special meat and mixed with tender loving care. In short order Lehman sells a bunch of this sausage soon after a person in his life suddenly disappears. Will anyone stop the outrages of the Mad Butcher?
I loved this movie! Obviously, I'd like to see the same idea in movie loaded with nauseating gore sequences. That would be the usual path to take with this concept. Zurli and company decided to go for giggles instead, and the result is a prime cut of Eurosleaze that left me feeling satisfied. Buono's performance is definitely the highlight of the film. He rolls his eyes and sighs his way through the script like a fed up Oliver Hardy, yet when the movie calls for him to explode in a murderous rage he does so in a way that is genuinely convincing and occasionally scary. Just as fun as Buono's acting is the musical score. Maybe it's just me, but I could have sworn that I heard what sounded like a rather modern industrial buzz saw type music track during the scenes involving Otto Lehman and Mike battling it out in the butcher's shop. Very nice and ahead of its time! I also liked the colorful look of the film, the props, and the fact that the filmmakers decided to punch up the nudity factor. Karin Field is a beautiful woman who should rightfully take her place in the pantheon of gorgeous Eurobabe stars of the 1960s and 1970s. Yep, while you won't observe any blood in "The Mad Butcher," what you will see and hear makes for a great way to spend an hour and a half.
Something Weird likes to put a lot of extras on their discs, and "The Mad Butcher" is no exception. Trailers on the DVD include one for this film, "Mother," "Axe," "The Beautiful, The Bloody, and the Bare," "Behind Locked Doors," "Caged Virgins," "The Child," "Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks," and "Rattlers." I've got to see everyone of these films! Then there is a Harry Novak gallery of exploitation art, black and white newsreel footage of real cannibals somewhere in the South Pacific, an easter egg that links you to a goofy short called "Kiss Me Quick," and a disturbing twenty-minute black and white film entitled "Cannibal Massage." Wow! This disc provides hours of fun for the whole family! Pick up a copy soon!
I loved this movie!
Night Stalker | San Francisco, CA. | 03/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"watching this old horror flick was very entertaining and nostalgic!
these are the kind of old cult clasics I really enjoy seeing, the picture and sound quality was excellent! plus there is a bonus , movie trailors, short films, picture gallery, etc
I highly recommend this old horror movie, especially if you grew up during the 60's & 70's original movie trailors, short films, slide show with music"
A fine foreign film
Johny Bottom | Jacksonville, NC | 01/11/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Ah. An overweight German butcher who loves his sausages. True the movie looked like it cost a hundred dollars to make, but it's warm and cozy. The butcher is so friendly and unasuming.The women are pretty hot too. If you like to see them go through a hand cranked meat grinder while still screaming then do so! After the butcher prepares his sausages he peddles them on the street and gives one every morning to a flatfoot walking his beat! Nice movie to watch on a first date with a nice Catholic girl."