The Return of the Vampire is one of the best horror movies of the 1940's. While the world was in turmoil, Bela Lugosi was making us forget for a moment and fear his iconic vampire character. The film has it's flaws but is survived mostly due to it's camp. This was supposed to be a sequel to Dracula but was made by a different studio. This forced them to use terrible names for the characters. Bela Lugosi is basically Dracula but they have to change his name to Dr. Armand Tesla. I don't know where they pulled that from but there it is.
Doctor Tesla was a Romanian scientist that became enamored with vampires. It just so happened that he becomes a vampire and begins terrorizing London. That is until he is defeated when a stake is driven through his heart. He is entombed, again, in the cemetery. Twenty years later, the Nazi's begin bombing London it disturbs his grave. Two inept guards find the Vampire body with the stake still sticking out of it. So the guards remove the stake and Tesla awakes and keeps killing. He has the help of his werewolf slave to seek revenge for his death!
This film has some great images and really good cinematography. It flows really well and makes for quite a good horror piece. Lugosi is iconic as the vampire character, even if it isn't Dracula. The sets were really well decorated. The graveyards that they feature are uber-creepy complete with low-hanging fog and askew grave markers. The make-up for Matt Willis, the Werewolf character, is fantastic! I really enjoyed how great the whole piece looked.
- This is possibly the first vampire film to actually show the vampire dissolve/disintegrate on camera.
- This appears to be the first horror film ever made in which both a vampire and a werewolf are characters, anticipating Universal's House of Frankenstein (1944) (released 11 months later) and House of Dracula (1945), as well as the the recent "Underworld" and "Twilight" movies.
- Lugosi was paid $3,500 for his four weeks of work.