Trailer uploaded to Youtube by user: Sleaze-O-Rama
This has been on my must see list for well over a decade, as well as the other independent Lugosi vampire film, Mark of the Vampire. This was actually intended as a sequel to Dracula, but Universal threatened to sue, so character was changed to Armand Tesla, instead, but the mannerisms are fairly similar of course. Initially I thought this was a sequel to mark, but I am wrong.
Walking into this, I know little of plot, minus it contains a werewolf assistant and Tesla is brought back to unlife, by a Nazi bombing of London. This film relies heavily on atmosphere, I had forgotten how much I love the black and white, especially in the old graveyard sets, and the fog. Something was pretty much lost in color.
So we begin this story with a prologue in 1918, where a doctor tracks down and slays a vampire, which in turn, seemingly kills off the werewolf assistant. From there we are segued into the 1940s, were we meet up again with the female assistant of the vampire slayer, and the cured werewolf, whom are trying to tell their story and exhume the vampiric corpse to prove their findings. Then comes the german bombers with backwards swastikas, and the vampiric carnage returns.
For it’s time, the werewolf effects are pretty good, there is a decent scene of Tesla rising from the grave and loads of the black and white staple fog. The talking werewolf was a little off putting, but it does not take away from anything. There is also an odd plot point involving hypnosis. Nina Foch is absolutely stunning in this, and succumbs yet again to Tesla’s evil will. Lugosi is awesomely hammy in this, not his greatest performance but still entertaining as hell.
This film is loaded with early horror tropes, the comedic undertakers, a sassy British maid, the science versus supernatural theme. It is really cliched even for it’s time. Really there is nothing new or of note here storywise, except maybe the female Van Helsing type Lady Jane. There is a very innovative scene, for it’s time, went Tesla turns to fog, nothing by today’s standard, but considering this was 1944, pretty impressive.
All in all, not great, nowhere near as good as the universal classics, but worth watching.
RATING: B- (71%)
PROS: Atmospheric, Lugosi is beautifully hammy, the werewolf, Andreas was a different twist. Has some very early gore effects.
CONS: Was almost a complete remake of Dracula, nothing story wise too new here, has some minor lagging issues.