19 September 2014

Bowery at Midnight (1942)
62 min.
Directed by Wallace Fox.
With Bela Lugosi, Wanda McKay, John Archer, Tom Neal, J. Farrell MacDonald, Anna Hope, Vince Barnett, Lew Kelly.
In the Bowery district of New York City, mild-mannered Karl Wagner (Lugosi) and his colleague Judy (McKay) run the Friendly Mission, a soup kitchen that caters to homeless transients, stray waifs and the like.

The Mission also serves as a front for Wagner's secret underworld network, a crime syndicate that pulls heists on local jewelers and banks. And when he wearies of one of his henchman, Wagner simply offs the tired loser and hides the body in the Mission's basement.

Meanwhile, he uses the stolen loot to fund both the Mission and to keep him comfortable in his uptown lifestyle as 'Frederick Brenner,' a respected college professor of criminology.

Oh, if only Wagner knew that his unhinged assistant Brooks (Kelly) was reanimating the dead corpses from this little homegrown mafia, that one by one, his enemies were coming back to life...and dead set on revenge!

It's true that Bowery might be accused of attempting the plot mechanics of an overworked Russian novel, but what this Monogram cheapie bites off, it spits out in a simplified, unsentimental fashion. Lugosi is wonderful as both the scholarly Brenner and his alter ego Wagner, interminably opening hidden doors that lead to secret passageways and scampering back and forth from one set to the next. McKay and Archer give serviceable work as the do-gooders out to thwart Lugosi's evil schemes.

Make it a double header with The Corpse Vanishes!

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