The Return Of The Vampire (1943) (Blu-ray Review)
DIRECTED BY: Lew Landers
STARRING: Bela Lugosi, Frieda Inescort, Nina Foch
RATED: UR/REGION A/1:33/1080P/NUMBER OF DISCS 1
AVAILABLE FROM Scream Factory
In 1918, Armand Tesla (Bela Lugosi), a 200-year-old Hungarian Vampire, prowls the English countryside, feeding from the jugulars of the villagers. But Tesla’s reign of terror is interrupted when a pair of scientists, Lady Jane (Frieda Inescort) and Sir John Ainsley (Roland Varno), drive a railroad spike through his heart. The “un-dead” Tesla remains safely entombed for two decades until the impact from a stray Nazi bomb accidentally releases him. Along with his werewolf servant Andreas Obry (Matt Willis), the resurrected vampire now plots vengeance on the family that put a halt to his nocturnal feasting.
The Return Of The Vampire stars Bela Lugosi basically playing Dracula even though he has a different name here due to what I assume is the fact it’s not a Universal movie. But he’s a vampire none the less and most places consider this to be some weird alternate sequel to the original Dracula. Plot-wise this one is pretty simple filled with all the usual stuff you’ve come to expect from vampire movies. But this one at least can take credit for being a movie that set those trends if nothing else. The movie has a very good atmosphere for it and it is a movie that would be right at home playing late at night when it is raining. You also get the pure joy of seeing Bela Lugosi playing a vampire. Everything else is a bit more hit and miss here I’m afraid.
The film packs a generic wolfman and a whole cast of characters that are played a bit stiff. Well, a whole lot stiff, if I am, to be perfectly honest. The biggest issue here with this one is that when the vampire of the movie isn’t on the screen there isn’t a whole lot of note going on. Those are clearly the low and dull points of the movie. I admit it gets a bit better when Bela is in the mix, but even then I’m not sure I’d call it enough to really make THAT much of a difference. This release does look old but packs some surprisingly sharp detail at times in the transfer. You also get a trilogy of audio commentaries to keep you going back and learning some new stuff. That might just be the best way to watch this one all in all. There’s also a silent version that might just compliment the cardboard acting of the majority of the cast.
– NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historian Troy Howarth
– NEW Audio Commentary With Author/Film Historian Gary Don Rhodes
– NEW Audio Commentary With Film Historian Lee Gambin
– Silent 8mm Presentation
– Theatrical Trailer
– Still Gallery
QUALITY OF TRANSFER: 88%