Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Corpse Vanishes

--Reviewed by Patrick

Plotline: When brides begin falling over dead at the alter, only to have their bodies stolen away by a fake funeral home, the spotlight of blame shines on the reclusive botanist, Dr. Lorenz (played by the great Bela Lugosi). It turns out that he, along with his henchmen (a brute named Angel and an unnamed midget) are stealing the bodies in order to prolong the life and beauty of his wife, the ultimately catty Countess Lorenz.

Scariness factor: -yawn-

Originality: This was actually the second Bela Lugosi movie I saw this weekend featuring missing corpses. (The first was a comic mystery, not a horror, called One Body Too Many, so it will not receive a review here.) In addition, though it came before it, it also strangely mirrored the plot of Santo Vs. Frankenstein's Daughter, except without all the wrestling. I gotta say, the midget was pretty original, if ultimately nonsensical.

Complaints: As with many of these older B-movies, the print was simply awful, with bits of overexposed scenes and large chunks of missing or damaged film flitting across the screen. There was also a limp love affair with two of the hero characters which made little, if any, sense and seemed to be stuffed in there just because the director felt he needed a little romance in the film.

Other High Points: Two scenes, in particular, made this movie a bit more enjoyable. One where the reporter, Patricia Hunter, first meets Countess Lorenz and, when introduced, simply gets told "I didn't invite you here!! -bitch slap-" is awesome in it's over-the-top cattiness. The other is when Dr. Lorenz is confronted by the reporter about being found sleeping in a coffin, to which he replies: "Why, yes, in a manner of speaking. I find a coffin much more comfortable than a bed. Is it so strange, really?"

"Well, I guess not."

I only wish people were this easy to convince. "But I enjoy eating small babies. Is it so strange, really?"

"Well, I guess not."

Overall: Poor Bela. He really puts himself 100% into all the movies I've seen him in, no matter how bad. Nowhere in his performance does he betray the lows to which he actually had sunk, taking any role he was offered to feed his addiction to morphine. He really was a tragic case, rising to the pinnacle of horror movie stardom, only to end up starring in the absolute worst examples of the genre. This movie is, unfortunately, more an example of the latter than it is the former.

Grade: C



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