The Corpse Vanishes (1942)

Article #20 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 4-4-2001
Posting date: 8-18-2001

Bela Lugosi plays a Mad Doctor whose aging wife (Val Lewton regular Elizabeth Russell) is hypersensitive about wrinkles, so he develops a way to restore her youth that involves removing certain fluids from dead beautiful women. He procures bodies by sending orchids with poison gases to brides that causes them to collapse at the altar; he then shanghais the body and takes it to his home.

Generally, the Monogram horror movies of this period weren’t really scary, but they trotted out horror elements with a certain gleeful abandon that was endearing, and they weren’t afraid to court ridiculousness to fill out their storylines. In this movie, the doctor and his wife sleep in coffins for no other reason than to give the heroine a cheap scare (“I find a coffin much more comfortable than a bed,” he says.), and his scheme to obtain bodies seems unnecessarily elaborate; why not just go find a beautiful woman, knock her on the head and drag her body to the house? And in order to outguess the police at every step, I’d expect him to have a more elaborate network of conspirators than an idiot, a dwarf, and their mother.

I guess this all goes to show that you don’t enjoy a Monogram horror movie for its story logic. And at least they had the common decency to use the comic relief sidekick sparingly.


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