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Columbia Pictures' 1944 horror film starring Béla Lugosi.

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Bela and a Talking Werewolf Get My Vote!

  • Dec 21, 2009
Rating:
+3

This surprisingly good tale has Bela Lugosi donning a Dracula-like cape, this time playing a Romanian vampire named Armand Tesla.  Tesla was a scientist seeking eternal life who eventually became a vampire.  Tesla lives in a cemetary mauseleum protected by his talking werewolf servant Andreas.  Throughout the film Andreas seems to always be carrying a package that looks like his laundry.

The story begins during WW I where Tessla is visiting a rich scientist's mansion, first praying on a woman then his young daughter (I wonder how that one got past the censors back then).  The scientist and his wife seek out the vampire during the day and locate his hiding place at the cemetary (they follow barefoot footprints in the cemetary to the mauseleum.  They are about to spike him when Andreas returns.  He tells them to basically go ahead and after the dead is performed, Andreas is transformed into a man. 

Tesla's body is buried in a secret grave and Andreas goes to work for the scientists.  Things stay quiet until the beginning of WW II.  The Germans (they are called Jerrys in the film) start bombing raids and for some reason they decide to bomb the cemetary (they want to make sure those dead people stay dead).  The force of one of the explosions exposes the hidden grave of Tesla.  Some comical grave diggers come by and see Tesla and figure that the spike should be removed before they rebury him (you wonder why his body isn't destroyed because he is in sunlight when they find him).  Off course Tesla comes to life again after sundown and seeks out Andreas again.

Tesla assumes the identity of a visiting doctor that Andreas has disposed of.  He arrives at the mansion and of course is the charming visiting guest (looks like a scene from any Dracula movie).  Of course Tesla is after the little girl who is now grown into a beautiful woman.  The female scientist starts to realize what is happening and must figure a way to defeat Tesla again before everyone ends up a victim.

The movie is fun and a good period piece.  Though it was made by Columbia, it has the look and feel of any of the classic Universal monster films.  The DVD extras include a hysterical trailer for Hammer's Revenge of Frankenstein as well as the trailer for Brahm Stoker's Dracula.

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March 17, 2010
Despite the fact that this was basically Columbia's way of ripping off the Universal films, I really liked this movie and I love it's ending!
March 17, 2010
When Bela tells Andreas "Go to the corner and die," I found that hilarious.
March 18, 2010
I know. In a lot of ways, it was satirizing the genre without anyone in the cast being aware of it.
March 18, 2010
People don't realize too that outside of the origninal Dracula, this was probably Bela's best vampire portrayal. I guess because Universal owned the Dracula character Bela had to play a different named vampire but there was virtually no difference in his character from the Dracula role.
March 18, 2010
True. In fact, I believe that this was originally scripted as a potential return to the role for Lugosi, but Universal wouldn't pass over the rights, so the character's name and back story was changed.
 
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More The Return of the Vampire reviews
review by . December 23, 2008
Tesla and His Sexy Victim
During the 1930s and 1940s, Universal Studios had a string of hits with horror films. Most of these films went on to become classics, mainly because of the presence of three actors: Béla Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Lon Chaney, Jr.. Universal was then imitated by many other studios that tried to capitalize on the success of these iconic horror films, but typically the results were disastrous.      There were, however, a few noteworthy exceptions. In the Columbia Pictures …
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Wiki

The Return of the Vampire is a rare, but not unique, case where the film makes it very clear that there is a war on and which war the film is talking about. The bombing raids where at least one plane has a swastika as well as the references to concentration camps make it very clear that the film is set during World War Two. One bombing raid helps set Tesla free and another bombing raid helps destroy him. The concentration camps provide Tesla with the false identity of Dr. Hugo Bruckner. Still most of the story's action is unrelated to the war. Most of the story is strictly concerned with the feud between Armand Tesla and Lady Jane, a feud that predates the war.

Like most Wartime Horror films, the writers and producers of The Return of the Vampire preferred to keep the Vampires, Werewolves and other fantasy characters far from the battlefields of history.

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Details

Genre: Horror
Release Date: January 1, 1944
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Runtime: 1hr 9min
Studio: Columbia Pictures
First to Review

"Béla Is Back!"
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