Film Review: The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)

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Boris Karloff is deliciously evil in this devious little adventure serial that pits the British Secret Service against Karloff’s sadistic Fu Manchu in a race for the mask and sword of Genghis Khan… I don’t remember why, but it has something to do with ruling the world. Karloff chews the scenery and Myrna Loy is interesting as his deadpan daughter.

The various torture scenes are enough for me to give this flick a passing grade. There’s homoerotic subtext abound when Karloff straps nearly-nude hunk Charles Starrett to a table, surrounded by several bronzed, diaper-clad beefcakes. Joel Schumacher would be in heaven. After injecting Starrett with a mind control serum concocted from spiders and reptiles, Karloff scrapes his long fingernails seductively across Starrett’s abdomen. Yes, The Mask of Fu Manchu is a kinky pre-Code movie. You also get the classic alligator pit, the moving walls of spikes, death rays, and more Saturday matinee cheeziness than you can shake Ghengis’ sword at.  I enjoyed it way more than I probably should.

Rating: 3.5/5 ★★★½☆ 

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About Scott_S

Scott studied film and sociology at Indiana University and is currently the video producer for a large publishing company. He is the director of several independent films, including "House of Hope," "Off the Beaten Path," "The Day Joe Left," and "Found." For more about Scott, visit www.scottschirmer.com. Scott is also one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)

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