In 1918, an English family are terrorized by a vampire, until they learn how to deal with it. They think their troubles are over, but German bombs in WWII free the monster. He reclaims the soul of his wolfman ex-servant, and assuming the identity of a scientist who has just escaped from a concentration camp, he starts out on a plan to get revenge upon the family. Written by
Ken Yousten <email@example.com>
The action of the prologue takes place beginning 15 October 1918, while the balance of the film takes place in late summer, early autumn of 1940 (according the the Regent Hall concert program shown). See more »
A Nazi bomber flying over London has a backwards swastika on it, indicating the shot was flipped in editing. See more »
Lew Landers directed a lot of crap during his long, prolific career, but when he was on his game, as in The Raven (1934), and this film, he could produce a horror movie as good as any. The Return of the Vampire may be nothing more than a little Columbia B picture, but it exhibits more craft, care, and professionalism than 90 percent of what comes out of Hollywood today. The foggy, expressionistic photography and sets are fantastic, with excellent use of shadow and camera movement, and the early scenes of Lugosi prowling through mist and darkness, shot mostly from behind, or in silhouette, are striking in their spectral intensity. Lugosi once again shows why he ranks among the immortals; he is more commanding and magnetic walking from point A to point B in his top hat and tails than most actors are emoting through pages of dialog. Screenwriter Griffin Jay and director Landers go out of their way to showcase Lugosi's unique talents; he is given a great part with many substantial scenes to play, and Landers shoots him to his fullest advantage. Frieda Inescort, as Lugosi's nemesis, is sublimely up to the challenge, and their scenes together, especially their climactic confrontation at the pipe organ, are the best in the film. Sure, Return of the Vampire has its weak elements, such as Matt Willis's unfortunate talking werewolf, but let them pass. There are few moments in cinema as inspiring as watching Lugosi at full throttle, and Return of the Vampire has that in spades.
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