Several murders are committed, and all inspector Lohmann (Gert Froebe)
can find are clues leading either to warden Wolf's (Fausto Tozzi) prison
or to the (thought) dead Dr Mabuse (Wolfgang Preiss). Soon Lohmann is
joined by FBI-agent Joe Como (Lex Barker), who might though actually be a
spy of the Chicago Syndicate and who concentrates more on
investigating the background of Maria Sabrehm (Daliah Lavi), a reporter
who seemingly has nothing to do with the case.
Eventually though, it is found out that Maria's father Professor
Sabrehm (Julius Forster) was actually once a big-shot scientist who has
been thrown into the slammer though for treason - and of course it's
warden Wolf's prison, where he is even allowed to play with nitro
So who is Mabuse (always assuming he is still alive) ?
Prison Priest Briefenstein (Rudolf Fernau) ?
Assistant warden Böhmler (Werner Peters) ?
Or Wolf himself ? - Well, no not Wolf, he is blown up in his car ...
Eventually, Lohmann decides to throw Joe Como into prison to find that
out, and Como has soon figured out that Sabrehm is forced to produce a
serum that turns the convicts into zombies and has them doing Mabuse's
bidding ... and Mabuse plans to blow up the atomic power plant this very
night - thank god Como finds a way to warn Lohmann and the police ...
The finale has Como and Maria locked up in a room that is then flooded
(but they of course both manage to escape) while Lohmann and his men have
a shoot-out with Mabuse's zombified convicts, who eventually give uo once
the cops shoot the guy giving them their commands.
Mabuse of course escapes, but Lohmann manages to hunt him down to the
railroad tracks, where he unmasks him to find out it's Wolf, who hadn't
died in his exploding car after all. But under Wolf's mask, Lohmann fidns
the real Doctor Mabuse, who soon puts him out of commission and tries to
run over him by train (unsuccessfully though) before he dies in a
traincrash ... but did he die ?
Of course, this story about the notorious fictional German super
criminal Dr Mabuse is pretty much as silly as it is
convoluted, and it's hardly believable let alone realist ... heck, it's
not even thought up all that well.
That said though, Im Stahlnetz des Dr.Mabuse is, within its
limits, a pretty cool, well-crafted and darkly atmospheric sci-fi-thriller
- the shoot-out between the zombie-convicts and the police towards the end
alone is creepier than most of the things seen in contemporary horror
films -, plus Gert Froebe in the lead beautifully carries the film.