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The Black Magic cult of Ubasti, based on the isle of Lemuria, believes that Nadji, a princess of Egypt, is a reincarnation of their long-dead goddess, Ossana, and intend to sacrifice Nadji so that Ossana may be resurrected. Nadji has taken refuge at the California home of Frank Chandler, an American raised in the east and possessed of White Magical powers, who calls himself "Chandu". Vindhyan, high priest of the cult's California outpost, learns of this and ultimately succeeds in placing her in a trance which Chandu cannot easily break, propelling him to move her to safety, choosing the port of Suva in the South Seas. There, aided by his sister Dorothy, nephew Bob and niece Betty, Chandu is able to revive her and deal with Vindhyan, only to have the evil Voice of Ubasti, highest of the high priests, spirit her to Lemuria through the magic Circle of Ola. Chandu, Dorothy, Bob and Betty set out in pursuit but end up shipwrecked on Lemuria itself, with his family also now held for ... Written by
"The Return of Chandu" is notable, if one can say that, for the casting of Bela Lugosi as the hero rather than the villain. Why he even gets the girl.
The story as such, involves the Black Magic Cult of Ubasti trying to capture the last Egyptian princess Nadji (the delectable Maria Alba) and use her as a sacrifice as a means of reviving their ancient leader who just happens to look like Nadji. Lugosi as Chandu, who possesses magical powers, tries to thwart the villains.
Director Ray Taylor does his best with limited resources and extensive stock footage. Fans of King Kong (1933) will recognize the giant doors that were used to keep Kong at bay in several scenes. The acting is for the most part, awful. The actor who plays the high priest (I believe Lucien Prival) for example, uses that acting coach inspired pronunciation that was so common in the early talkies. The less said about the others the better.
It is a mystery why Lugosi accepted parts in independent quickies at this stage of his career, because he was still a bankable star at Universal at this time. Maybe it was because in this case he got to play the hero and get the girl, who knows. As his career started to spiral downwards in the late 30s, this kind of fare would become the norm for Lugosi rather than the exception.
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