Many potent images from the original Dr Mabuse films remain Mabuse watching behind hidden windows and controlling the random flow of games of chance, his hotels that double as mind control institutes, the ending with him gone mad. Some of the new images that Claude Chabrol introduces are good too the background of a future dominated by media where giant video billboards offer banally repeated ads over and over; and some striking sets such as the nightclub vividly dressed in brickwork where people dance to the silently flickering b&w film images from anonymous wars projected on a wall behind them. There is a good central metaphor of chaos and randomness versus control in one potent moment, Marsfeldt stands secretly watching a roulette game and the camera pans to watch the 0 come up as he wills it. At various other points, Marsfeldt appears to be in imminent danger of having a heart attack depending on how much control he has over things.
For all that, Dr M/Club Extinction is a dull film. Claude Chabrol never conjures a sense of the decadence or the vast criminal underworld that Fritz Lang created. Both Chabrols direction and the photography are flat and dreary and the cast equally uninspired. The plot is not that well held together indeed seems rather ludicrous when one thinks about it Marsfeldts scheme seems to be to cause people to commit mass suicide (one is never sure why his only explanation is ever that he is giving them what they want), or most of all how (some link to the Club Theratos, at other points to hypnotic control triggered by tv broadcasts), or why the victims have an obsession with Sonja.
Alan Bates gives a reasonably good performance certainly his affection of fatherly geniality is very good, especially during one sequence when he appears on tv, surrounded by children to assure people that there is no panic over the mass suicides, deliberately disseminating disturbing information. However, the very charisma of Alan Bates performance points obviously to the identity of the mastermind behind things one fails to see the point in making the revelation of the identity a surprise as it fools nobody. And unfortunately, what starts as a good performance becomes increasingly hammy throughout at its worst when Bates is impersonating a guru in 60s clothing, beads, white wig and bad accent. It culminates in a very silly ending amid rampant overacting upon Alan Batess part.
The other Dr Mabuse films are: Dr Mabuse, The Gambler (1922), The Testament of Dr Mabuse (1933), The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (1960), The Return of Dr Mabuse/The FBI Versus Dr Mabuse (1961), The Testament of Dr Mabuse (1962), The Invisible Dr Mabuse/The Invisible Horror (1962), Dr Mabuse vs Scotland Yard (1964) and The Death Ray of Dr Mabuse/The Secret of Dr Mabuse (1964).
Full film available online here:-