BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

The Human Monster (1939) - Blu-ray Review

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The Human Monster (1939)

It’s the eyes, man! It’s all about the eyes.

"with Lugosi in the driver’s seat, the film reveals its murderous ways rather quickly"

Béla Lugosi (and those expressive eyebrows of his) definitely created a lot of memorable characters for cinema. He was always chewing the scenery and making each scene his own; however, in The Human Monster (also known as The Dark Eyes of London) he definitely delivers as Dr. Orloff, an insurance agent who loans out money off the people he insures. Sounds basic, right? It isn’t, of course, and with Lugosi in the driver’s seat, the film reveals its murderous ways rather quickly.

Because there are bodies floating in the Thames and a significant amount of them are insured by Orloff. Okay, okay, so all of them are. Ouch. The Scotland Yard is on it, though, and it IS as shady as it sounds. Orloff thinks he’s smarter than the average killer out there because of his connections with the Dearborn Home for the Blind. He’s the sole beneficiary and feels that his dirty deeds are covered thanks to his use of the monstrously deformed Jake (Wilfred Walter) to take his victims down to an electrically-charged area of the river.

With Lugosi playing two roles, The Human Monster that the title alludes to, used here in the states when it was released by Monogram Pictures in March 1940, is actually Orloff himself. He is brutal, brutal man and that viciousness is reflected in most everything Lugosi does as Orloff and – surprise, surprise – as Dearborn. From torturing to killing, Lugosi does not play a nice man and he absolutely laps the sick and twisted nature of his killings up in every scene that he is in. He should, too, as this is a juicy role for the actor, coming at a time when the Lugosi name was a bit stale when it came to casts.The Human Monster (1939)

The film is directed by Walter Summers (Footsteps in the Sand) and showcases some atmospheric cinematography from cinematographer Bryan Langley who finds a lot of expressive techniques on a minimal budget for which this story to play out against. From Orloff’s creepy office to the comical zaniness of a train station when a visiting cop from Chicago arrives to help out the Scotland Yard, Langley frames everything with a keen eye that punches up the atmosphere when appropriate and delivers a startling and disturbing film (and finale) that earned the film a “H” (for HORRIFIC) rating in the United Kingdom when it was originally released in 1939.

Remastered in 2K and released here in the United States thanks to VCI Entertainment, The Human Monster lives on thanks to this rather timely Halloween offering on Blu-ray!

4/5 beers

The Human Monster (1939)


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: VCI
Available on Blu-ray
- October 29, 2019
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
: None
English: Mono PCM
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

This is a public domain title. VCI Entertainment is in charge of a 1080p transfer that has been restored in 2K from a 35mm fine grain print. It’s a full framed release and, while the textures aren’t the sharpest, the grain and filmic quality is definitely in place. Fans should appreciate the release and the bonus features.


For all its hiccups in images, this 2K transfer is surprisingly good one for a film that has been in the public domain for far too long. It might be unstable in some of the flickering images, but the black-and-while transfer is somewhat crisp and filmic with some visible abrasions. The women look stunning and the sets – while meager – are interesting enough for this low-grade B picture. Considering the damage to the print, this is – for the time being – probably as good as it gets. Lugosi fans will be pleased.


The audio is presented in an adequate Mono PCM track. Nothing spectacular is heard, but dialogue is front and center.



  • There are two commentary tracks included with this release: one from noted film historian, author and Bela Lugosi expert, Gary Don Rhodes, and another by film historian David del Valle and author, screenwriter and monster kid, Phoef Sutton.

Special Features:

VCI has loaded this release with some cool offerings. Fans get a look at the publicity art for the release with an Extensive Poster and Photo Gallery, the Original U.S. Re-issue Theatrical Trailer, an Archival Video 'Intimate Interview with Bela Lugosi', and Liner Notes written by film historian Patrick McCabe. As previously stated, there are commentary tracks by noted film historian, author and Bela Lugosi expert, Gary Don Rhodes, and another by film historian David del Valle and author, screenwriter and monster kid, Phoef Sutton

  • Extensive Poster/Photo Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Archival Video Interview with Lugosi
  • Linear Notes
  • Commentaries

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 2/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4/5 stars

The Human Monster (1939)

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
73 mins
: Walter Summers
Patrick Kirwan
Bela Lugosi, Hugh Williams, Greta Gynt
: Horror
A Brute With the Power of a Giant Who Kills at the Command of a Mad Svengali!
Memorable Movie Quote: "You have been very foolish, Lou. You are blind, and you cannot speak. But you can hear - and that will never do!"
Theatrical Distributor:
Monogram Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
March 24, 1940
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 29, 2019
Synopsis: Insurance agent-physician collects on policies of men murdered by a disfigured resident of the home for the blind where he acts as doctor-on-call.

The Human Monster (1939)

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