20 August 2014

The Corpse Vanishes (1942)
64 min.
Directed by Wallace Fox.
With Bela Lugosi, Luana Walters, Tris Coffin, Elizabeth Russell, Minerva Urecal, Angelo Rossitto, Joan Barclay, Frank Moran, George Eldredge.
Also known as The Case of the Missing Brides, this 1942 Monogram horror is sheer basement fun.

Healthy brides are dropping into a death-like coma on their wedding day, their bodies then stolen by some unknown psycho. Since the authorities are baffled, feisty news reporter Patricia Hunter (Walters) decides to investigate on her own.

She discovers that an anonymous donor gave each of the brides a rare orchid on their wedding day, a sweet smelling flower that appears to cause the semblance of death. But who sent the orchids? And why pick on harmless brides? Could it all be the work of the creepy Dr. Lorenz (Lugosi), aided by his dwarf assistant Toby (Rossitto) and brute manservant Angel (Moran)?

Yup. Seems Lorenz is draining the lifeblood of his captive brides in order to restore youth and beauty to his beloved 80 year-old wife (Russell).

From a critical perspective, The Corpse Vanishes is often regarded as the beginning of Lugosi's fast spiral down into B movie oblivion.

But just like The Devil Bat (1941), this one too has notable plus points: it boasts some unabashedly offbeat casting, a leering performance from Bela, and solid support from Walters and Coffin.

The low rent grittiness of Corpse, its slightly rough-edged feel, predate the grindhouse drive-in fodder of the early '70s - sans gore, of course.

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