Chandu on the Magic Island (1935)

Article #1462 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-16-2005
Posting Date: 8-13-2005
Directed by Ray Taylor
Featuring Bela Lugosi, Maria Alba, Murdock MacQuarrie

Chandu must save Princess Nadji from a cult which intends to put her soul in the body of their goddess.

Bela Lugosi played the villain in CHANDU THE MAGICIAN, but when the time came to make a serial based on the character (THE RETURN OF CHANDU), he was given the role of Chandu himself. The serial was then edited into two features; the first feature (from the first half of the serial) was also called THE RETURN OF CHANDU, while this was the second one (from the second half). Watching a feature version of half of a serial is hardly an ideal way to enjoy it, especially if you haven’t seen the serial or the other feature version. It should be no surprise that this one is missing a goodly amount of exposition, and that it has that pervasive lack of variety of feature versions of serials. Still, it doesn’t descend into the trap of repetitive non-stop action like so many of them do, probably because this wasn’t an action-oriented serial. It’s creaky as hell, but it does have certain qualities I rarely find in serials; it’s quite atmospheric and has a real sense of fantasy to it. Actually, I find myself looking forward to seeing this serial at some later date, though I suspect that it may prove to be rather static and tiresome over the length of several episodes. Still, I have to say this is one of the better feature-versions-of-serials I’ve seen to date.


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