Bela Lugosi

The Corpse Vanishes (1942) - Wallace Fox


The Corpse Vanishes (20)

Bela Lugosi phoned in this horror mystery that is very light on both horror and mystery.

Directed by:
Wallace Fox

Produced by:
Sam Katzman & Jack Dietz

Written by:
Harvey Gates

Sam Robins & Gerald Schnitzer

Bela Lugosi, 
Luana Walters, 
Tristram Coffin, Minerva Urecal and Elizabeth Russell

Banner Productions

Distributed by:
Monogram Pictures Corporation

Release date:
May 8, 1942

Running time:
64 minutes

United States


The Corpse Vanishes is a horror mystery film from 1942. It stars Bela Lugosi, was written by Harvey Gates and was directed by Wallace Fox. A pretty talented crew for such a mediocre feature. This is the fourth film in Lugosi’s nine film contract with Monogram pictures. It’s going to be a long road. The filmmakers hadn’t put much effort into the production, and the whole thing fell into the Public Domain.

Young brides have been dying at the altar, then mysteriously disappearing on the way to the hospital. Bela Lugosi stars as Dr. George Lorenz, a mad scientist that is experimenting on these young women. He presents them with a special, hypnotizing and deadly orchid that puts them into a coma. Then he abducts them and extracts their glandular fluid, injecting it into his own wife to keep her young and attractive. It isn’t long before Patricia Hunter, a young journalist, is on the case.

The biggest flaw is the thin plot. It’s hard to get invested in the picture when everything is just layed out in front of you. The pacing is all over the place and the acting is questionable. I found myself losing interest pretty quickly. I admit that I had watched this film on a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode and that humor kept the film rolling on.

Luana Walters is great. She is one in a handful of strong female leads from this era that can chop it up with the guys. Her quick wit and sharp tongue make her a real joy on camera. I liked her as the protagonist, even if she barely does much. Bela Lugosi is phoning it in. It’s annoying to see him try and shoehorn his Dracula character into each role. I get that Dracula was iconic, but he isn’t nearly as talented as I had been raised to believe.

This was a hard one to enjoy. Bela Lugosi is getting tiresome quickly and I can’t wait for something new. The forties wasn’t the best time for film. Our country was a bit too preoccupied with events like World War II, to be bothered with quality horror pictures. It isn’t until the fifties that we get something wholly original. If you are a fan of Lugosi’s rarer films, then this might be up your alley. Otherwise, stay away. You don’t need to concern yourself with such a pointless movie.