Category Archives: Bela Lugosi

Blu-Ray News #329: Creeping Horror Collection (1933-1946).

Our friends at Eureka in the UK are serving up some more 1930s and ’40s hi-def horror from Universal. There will be commentaries and other extras. Reaching for the pre-order button yet?

Murders In The Zoo (1933)
Directed by A. Edward Sutherland
Starring Charlie Ruggles, Lionel Atwill, Gail Patrick, Randolph Scott

This Pre-Code gem is considered pretty ghastly, a reputation it gleefully deserves. Lionel Atwill is insanely jealous, and if you mess with his wife, there’s a good chance you’ll be eaten by tigers, bitten by a deadly snack or God knows what else. Bonus: Randolph Scott is in it!

Horror Island (1941)
Directed by George Waggner
Starring Dick Foran, Peggy Moran, Leo Carrillo, Eddie Parker, Dale Van Sickle, John Eldredge, Fuzzy Knight

Dick Foran owns a tiny island off the Florida coast, complete with a castle and the legend of buried treasure. He sets up a fake tourist-y treasure-hunt cruise to his island, but when strange things happen and people end up dead…

This was originally paired with Man Made Monster (1941), for a perfect night at the movies.

Night Monster (1942)
Directed by Ford Beebe
Starring Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Ralph Morgan, Irene Hervey, Don Porter, Leif Erikson

Though they’re given top billing, Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill really have featured roles in this more-or-less remake of Doctor X (1932). Shot by the underrated Charles Van Enger.

House Of Horrors (1946)
Directed by Jean Yarbrough
Starring Rondo Hatton, Martin Kosleck, Robert Lowery, Virginia Grey

After playing “The Creeper” in the Sherlock Holmes picture The Pearl Of Death (1944), Universal decided to make the disfigured (due to acromegaly) Rondo Hatton their next horror star. He made two movies in 1945, House Of Horrors and The Brute Man. They would be released after his death in 1946. If you can get past how exploitive the whole thing is, the movies are as ghoulish and entertaining as other Universal horror pictures of the 40s.

Universal has always kept these films in tip-top condition, making Blu-Rays of these things a must. Each is a creepy delight — responsible for the rotted brains of lots and lots of monster kids (myself included). Highly, highly recommended.

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Filed under 30s Horror, Bela Lugosi, DVD/Blu-ray News, Eureka Entertainment, George Waggner, Lionel Atwill, Pre-Code, Randolph Scott, Rondo Hatton, Universal (-International), Virginia Grey

Blu-Ray News #326: The Human Monster (AKA Dark Eyes Of London, 1939).

Directed by Walter Summers
Starring Béla Lugosi, Hugh Williams, Greta Gynt

ClassicFlix is doing us all a big fat favor, bringing another Bela Lugosi picture — 1939’s Dark Eyes Of London (released in the States in 1940 as The Human Monster) to Blu-Ray.

Though distributed in the US by Monogram, this is not one of Lugosi’s infamous “Monogram Nine.” This is a British adaptation of an Edgar Wallace novel. It was the first British film to receive an “H” certificate (for “Horrific”) from the British Board of Censors. Children under 16 weren’t allowed to see it.

Lugosi sailed over on the Queen Mary to do this one, shot in about a week. He has a dual role, as Dr. Feodor Orloff and John Dearborn, in this story of a series of murders traced back to insurance policies with the Dearborn Home For The Blind as the beneficiary.

This is great stuff, and I’m dying to see it in high definition. Coming at the end of February. Highly, highly recommended.

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Filed under 30s Horror, Bela Lugosi, ClassicFlix, DVD/Blu-ray News, Monogram/Allied Artists

Merry Christmas, Again!

Here’s Dr. Seuss, Boris Karloff and Chuck Jones during production of the animated How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966).

Along with today’s earlier post, we’ve pulled off another pairing of Karloff and Lugosi. Can’t go wrong with that!

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Filed under 1966, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff

Merry Christmas!

Santa and Bela hope a Merry Christmas is in the cards for you all. Not sure what this photo’s about, but I sure dig it. 

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Blu-Ray News #312: Thrillers From The Vault: 8 Classic Horror Films.

Mill Creek Entertainment has two new Blu-ray sets coming in December: Thrillers From The Vault: 8 Classic Horror Films and Sci-Fi From The Vault: 4 Classic Films. Today, we’ll take a look at the horror one.

The Black Room (1935)
Directed by Roy William Neill
Starring Boris Karloff, Marian Marsh, Robert Allen, Thurston Hall

What’s better than a movie with Boris Karloff in it? Two Karloffs in the same film! He’s Anton and Gregor, sons born to the Baron de Berghman. One brother has some sinister plans for the other.

The Man They Could Not Hang (1939)
Directed by Nick Grinde
Starring Boris Karloff, Lorna Gray, Robert Wilcox
This set gives you Karloff’s “Mad Doctor Cycle” in high definition. This one is the first. Karloff invents an artificial heart, and after he’s unjustly hung, he uses it to exact his revenge.

Before I Hang (1940)
Directed by Nick Grinde
Starring Boris Karloff, Evelyn Keyes, Bruce Bennett, Edward Van Sloan
Karloff’s anti-aging serum works with one deadly side effect — he used the blood of a homicidal maniac, which sends him on a killing spree.

The Man With Nine Lives (1940)
Directed by Nick Grinde
Starring Boris Karloff,

Karloff has been trapped in a block of ice for 10 years. When he’s thawed out, he uses his enemy’s to continue his “chilling” experiments.

The Devil Commands (1941)
Directed by Edward Dmytryk
Starring Boris Karloff, Richard Fiske, Amanda Duff

Karloff’s experiments capture the brain waves of his dead wife. All he needs is a body to put them in.

The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942)
Directed by Lew Landers
Starring Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Max Rosenbloom

The fifth, and last of Karloff’s Columbia pictures plays like a spoof of the earlier ones. He’s a mad scientist, of course, trying to create a race of superhumans (for the war effort) in the basement of an old inn.

The Return Of The Vampire (1943)
Directed by Lew Landers
Starring Bela Lugosi, Frieda Inescort, Nina Foch

This time, Bela Lugosi is brought back to life when a German bomb hits his grave and cemetery workers yank the stake out of his heart.

Five (1951)
Produced, Written & Directed by Arch Oboler
Starring William Phipps, Susan Douglas Rubeš, James Anderson

Five people survive an atomic blast and try to figure out how to carry on. This post-apocalyptic story was shot at a number of LA locations, including director Oboler’s own Frank Lloyd Wright house.

The Black Room and the Karloff mad doctor pictures are all great — and will be a real treat in hi-def. The Return Of The Vampire is also a lot of fun. Looking forward to Thrillers From The Vault: 8 Classic Horror Films.

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Filed under 30s Horror, Arch Oboler, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Columbia, DVD/Blu-ray News, Edward Dmytryk, Lew Landers, Mill Creek, Nick Grinde, Peter Lorre, Roy William Neill

Blu-Ray Review: Mark Of The Vampire (1935).

Directed by Tod Browning
Produced by E.J. Mannix
Screenplay by Guy Endore & Bernard Schubert
Photographed by James Wong Howe
Film Editor: Ben Lewis
Music by Herbert Stothart & Edward Ward

Cast: Lionel Barrymore (Prof. Zelen), Elizabeth Allan (Irena Borotyn), Bela Lugosi (Count Mora), Lionel Atwill (Inspector Neumann), Jean Hersholt (Baron Otto von Zinden), Carroll Borland (Luna Mora), Donald Meek (Dr. Doskil), Henry Wadsworth (Fedor Vincente)


With Mark Of The Vampire (1935), Tod Browning and Bela Lugosi set out to make their Dracula (1931) lightning strike twice. But since they were at MGM this time around, not Universal, a proper sequel wasn’t to be. Instead, Browning returned to his silent Lon Chaney picture London After Midnight (1927).

When Sir Karell Borotyn (Holmes Herbert) is found murdered, the local physician (Donald Meek) notes a pair of small wounds on his neck and decides a vampire did it. The mysterious Count Mora (Bela Lugosi) and his creepy daughter Luna (Carroll Borland) are suspected of being the undead, though the local police inspector (Lionel Atwill) doesn’t believe it.

When Sir Karell’s daughter Irena (Elizabeth Allan) falls ill with the same sinister marks on her neck, an authority on the occult and vampires, Professor Zelen (Lionel Barrymore), is summoned to save Irena and destroy the vampires.

Couldn’t resist. Here’s Lon Chaney in London After Midnight (1927).

The working title for Mark Of The Vampire was The Vampires Of Prague, but the setting might as well be Transylvania. The plot is a pretty direct lift from London After Midnight — which like most humans alive today, I’ve never seen. (It’s a lost film.) But the picture’s visual style and having Lugosi onboard as the vampire puts Mark Of The Vampire squarely in Dracula territory. 

Lugosi really doesn’t have all that much to do, but Lionel Barrymore has a field day as Professor Zelen, a standard Van Helsing kind of role. He’s all over the place, and he’s wonderful. 

Scenes that hint at an incestuous relationship between the Count and Luna, and the Count’s suicide, were removed from the script. (The suicide accounts for the unexplained wound on the side of Lugosi’s head.) The finished film runs only 61 minutes. But what glorious minutes they are, with only the trick ending (Spoiler Alert) — with the vampires being actors employed to root out the real killer — threatening to spoil things. (Scooby Doo would do the fake-monster copout in every single episode, which infuriated me as a kid.)

Cinematographer James Wong Howe (sitting on camera dolly) and Tod Browning (in director’s chair) shoot a scene with Carroll Borland and Bela Lugosi.

But real vampires or not, the atmosphere here is very real, thanks to Cedric Gibbons’ art direction, the haunting “score” — which seems to be made up of ghostly moans and groans, and the masterful camerawork of the great James Wong Howe. Howe takes the mood of Dracula, which was shot by the incredible Karl Freund, to an entirely new level. Nobody lights a run-down castle, a rat or an armadillo quite like those two! Howe keeps his camera moving quite a bit, which was really difficult on these early sound films. After all, the camera was the size of a refrigerator! There are tracking shots along the castle’s staircase that will knock you out.

It’s these visuals that truly benefit from the exquisite new Blu-Ray from Warner Archive. They’ve worked their magic again on this one. We have an idea of what a film from 1935 should look like, influenced more by the shoddy ways we’ve seen them over the years. Now, it looks like it was shot yesterday. It’s flawless, letting Howe’s work really shine. There are frames from this movie I’d love to hang on my wall.

The Blu-Ray’s extras include a commentary, a short and a cartoon, but the real jewel is the original trailer. It makes great use of Lugosi, who speaks directly to the audience. He has 10 times more dialogue in this trailer than he does in the actual movie! 

I love 30s horror pictures, and seeing them look like this is a real blessing. A big thanks to Warner Archive for all the work that went into this Mark Of The Vampire. It blew me away. This one’s essential, folks!

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Filed under Bela Lugosi, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Lon Chaney, MGM, Tod Browning, Warner Archive

Blu-Ray News #406: Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1931) And Mark Of The Vampire (1935).

Man oh man, am I excited about this! Warner Archive has announced a couple of terrific 30s horror pictures for October release on Blu-Ray — Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1931) and Mark Of The Vampire (1935).

Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde
Directed by Rouben Mamoulian
Starring Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, Rose Hobart, Holmes Herbert

Fredric March won an Oscar for this excellent pre-Code horror picture, which came way too close to being a lost film. When MGM started working on their Spencer Tracy version, they bought the rights to the March film and the 1920 silent version with Lionel Barrymore — and destroyed all the material they could find. Luckily, something survived. 

Mark Of The Vampire
Directed by Tod Browning
Starring Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Jean Hersholt, Carroll Borland

Tod Browning revisits his silent London After Midnight (1927), adding sound and replacing Lon Chaney with Bela Lugosi. (Browning directed the 1931 Dracula.) Lugosi is at his Dracula-y best, Lionel Barrymore is a hoot as an expert on the occult and Carroll Borland is creepy as Lugosi’s daughter.

These played theaters in the early 70s along with Boris Karloff in Mask Of Fu Manchu (1932). What a night of 35mm wonderfulness that would’ve been. (Why didn’t my parents take me to this? I thought they loved me.) That’s the poster for the “terrifying triple show” up top.

You can always count on Warner Archive for exquisite transfers, and I’m really looking forward to seeing these look as good (or better) than they did back in the 30s. This is essential stuff, folks!

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Filed under Bela Lugosi, DVD/Blu-ray News, MGM, Paramount, Tod Browning, Warner Archive

Boston, December 1955.

Wouldn’t you love to hop into your time machine for this week of wonderful-ness? (Sorry, Bob, no Son Of Frankenstein.)

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Filed under 1955, Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Edgar G. Ulmer, James Whale, Lionel Atwill, Lon Chaney Jr., Screenings, Tod Browning, Universal (-International)

The Phantom Creeps, Quite Literally.

Directed by Ford Beebe & Saul A. Goodkind
Starring Bela Lugosi, Robert Kent, Dorothy Arnold, Edwin Stanley, Regis Toomey, Jack C. Smith, Edward Van Sloan

VCI has been working on a restoration of The Phantom Creeps (1939), a 12-chapter Universal serial starring Bela Lugosi, for Blu-Ray release.

They’ve recently provided some info on why this thing is taking so long: “When we started working on the restoration early last year, we discovered that six of the 12 chapters, of the original film elements we received from Universal Pictures, had many issues. Some reels were missing, and some were on nitrate film and had deteriorated terribly. Fortunately, we found more complete original film elements stored at the Library of Congress. We have requested access to those film elements, however we were informed that film was actually owned by Sony Pictures (FYI, Sony actually is the owner of Columbia Pictures, who had a license in the 1950’s to distribute several Universal serials via their TV syndication division, Screen Gems, and that’s how they came to have these film elements). Since we discovered this, we have been negotiating with Sony’s legal department to give us permission to access and scan this film, which would allow us to finish our restoration. This process with Sony began last July, and so far, they have been cooperating, but still haven’t given us their permission. We feel confident that Sony will give us permission, but we just can’t say when. This is a very high-priority project to VCI, but unfortunately it is not as important to Sony, so we remain on hold.”

As this frame grab from Chapter 1 shows, this thing is gonna be incredible — and well worth the wait. The Phantom Creeps is a cool serial, put together by some of the very best at making such things: director Beebe, writer George Plympton and DP William Sickner.

I’m eagerly awaiting the next thrilling chapter in this story! When it gets here, it’ll be essential.

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Filed under Bela Lugosi, DVD/Blu-ray News, Film Preservation, Regis Toomey, Serial, Universal (-International), VCI

Happy Birthday, Boris Karloff.

Boris Karloff (William Henry Pratt)
(23 November 1887 – 2 February 1969)

Let’s celebrate the birth of the great Boris Karloff. Here his is celebrating his birthday on the set of Son Of Frankenstein (1939). Left to right: Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, director Rowland V. Lee, Bela Lugosi and our birthday boy, Mr. Karloff.

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Filed under Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff