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The Corpse Vanishes \ Bowery at Midnight - blu-ray review

3 beersWhile Bela Lugosi’s residency making poverty row pictures was relatively short-lived, there were a handful of solid horror titles he made that originally went ignored.  The Corpse Vanishes, doubling down on the genuine weirdness of an aging couple obsessed with harvesting fluids from younger people (especially brides), is one of those films.  It’s perfectly suited for Lugosi’s skills and has one of the best supporting casts he ever had in his career to help develop AND deliver the creepy vibe of the flick.

The Corpse Vanishes was directed by Wallace Fox and produced by Sam “One Shot” Katzman.  It co-stars Elizabeth Russell (Cat People) who recoils at the very idea of being touched by Angelo Rossitto, who was all of 2' 11" and vey much in demand throughout his career, the fantastic Minerva Urecal, and Luana Walters as a female journalist hot on the trail of something big.  Tris Coffin rounds out the cast as the straight man who joins Walters when she becomes Lorenzo’s next target.

Like I said, this is a great cast for Lugosi to interact with.  Together, they create an odd picture that sees Lugosi as Dr. Lorenzo, a mad scientist, target happy brides on their wedding days.  He gives them an orchid that causes them to fall into suspended animation and then hides in the back of a hearse – in a coffin no less (where he sometimes sleeps) – and waits for the women to be pronounced dead.  That’s when he strikes, stealing the bodies away to his lab in order to drain them of their life-giving “juices” he then provides to his aging wife.  Eternal youth!

With classic lines like "Don't touch me, you gargoyle” and “I find a coffin much more comfortable than a bed”, The Corpse Vanishes is a demented trek down the b-movie nature trail to Hell.  It’s creepy, moves quickly, and doesn’t blink twice when it offers its “scientific” conclusions about curing old age.  It’s the perfect Monogram Picture, if you ask me, and continues to be a thrilling tale of demented fun. 

Bowrey at Midnight, another fast flick from 1942 for Monogram is also directed by Fox, is also on the disc.  It is not nearly as successful as The Corpse Vanishes, but – as it has Lugosi attempting to play two roles (but really one) – has its fair share of spoofy and hokum moments.  Hell, it might not even have begun as a ghoulish picture of life and death and life again.  It’s possible that Katzman wanted to cash in one some more with Lugosi.  This one appears to have changed its stripes once Lugosi got involved as it opens with a cheaply shot prison break and spends far too long in the lives of a young scholar AND a newly-promoted police officer.

In it, Lugosi plays a philanthropist named Karl Wagner who operates a mission for the poor.  He serves them soup; a lot of it, too.  He’s, in fact, always offering them another ladle full of delicious soup.  It’s quite creepy and, soon enough, his ulterior motives are revealed.  Fortunately, his gorgeous assistant, Judy Malvern (Wanda McCay, The Black Raven), isn’t in on what he’s hiding in his series of hidden rooms in the back.  Wagner’s a career criminal, who poses as a scholar and a public servant in order to get what he really wants: silver and gold.

But, with the dismantling of the Hays Code, films were finally free to go the extra mile and Bowrey at Midnight takes full advantage of that with the ending scene that (a) wraps up all the silly loose ends, and (b) legitimately creeps out the viewer as Wagner is guided right into his frightful fte.  You see, one of Wagner’s associates has been bringing back to life all of the people Wagner’s disposed of.  He just hasn’t shared that fact with Wagner…until it is too late.  These reanimated folks are a pissed off horde and they want their revenge.

Retromedia Entertainment Group issues The Corpse Vanishes – along with another Lugosi flick, Bowery at Midnight – on blu-ray this month.  The release is hard to find, but it’s a good one to pick up if you are at interested in Monogram Pictures’ history with the horror star.  Here’s hoping we got more!


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The Corpse Vanishes \ Bowery at Midnight - blu-ray review

 Blu-rayBlu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Retromedia
Available on Blu-ray
- April, 2017
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

The double feature from Retromedia Entertainment Group presents both movies in their HD debut.  The Corpse Vanishes and Bowerey at Midnight have both been transferred in 2K and look pretty good considering their age and the conditions of their storage.  Blacks aren’t as strong as we’d prefer, but they are inky in some spots and fairly consistent throughout each movie.  The picture is stable, too. Greys are bright and add some depth to the overall films.  There are some unfortunate instances with hair at one point in The Corpse Vanishes that will prove to be annoying for some.  The aspect ratio for each film is 1.33:1 and a solid Mono track provides the sound.



  • None

Special Features:

This double feature includes a 6-min film interview with Lugosi upon his return to America after making Vampire Over London in England.

  • Bela Lugosi TV Interview (6 min)


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The Corpse Vanishes \ Bowery at Midnight - blu-ray review