"Blimey 'e's 'opped! Lord Love-a-Duck!"
The Won With the Not Dracula
The Return of the Vampire is a 1944 film that was intended to be a direct sequel to Universal's Dracula, but due to legal trouble, it had to settle for changing the characters names. The film is directed by Lew Landers (The Raven) and written by Griffin Jay (The Mummy's Hand) and follows Lady Jane (Frieda Inescort) and Sir Fleet (Miles Mander) as they try to save her daughter-in-law Nicki (Nina Foch) from the vampire Armand Tesla (Bela Lugosi) and his werewolf assistant Andreas (Matt Willis).
|Boo! Haunted House!|
The Classic Complex
I love myself an old horror film. And today, of look at the 1940s gives us the 1944 Dracula spiritual successor The Return of the Vampire. I'll admit though. This is not the greatest film I probably could have chosen for this. But hey, Return of the Vampire does deliver on a few things. The main thing is Lugosi is back and his great here. He's still menacing and fun to watch, even if he doesn't get a lot to do. And, not only do we get faux-Dracula, we get a faux-Wolfman too. The effects on the werewolf are pretty great and the character is great. You do get an honest sense of how trouble the werewolf is and Willis acts well opposite Lugosi. The setting is also worth mentioning. The film takes place in London during WWII and it looks very nice. Plus, the addition of bombs occasionally raining all over the place is awesome. Unfortunately though, there isn't really a lot else to enjoy here.
Return of the Vampire is a relatively cheap film. It doesn't seem to have had the high production value and it does show. Shots are reused and so are sets, but that's not too uncommon for the time. What is a little less excusable are scenes with actually honest errors. One scene shows a bombing of London, but it cuts too early and we see the extras have a very delayed reaction to the explosions. And the story also is a bit of a mess. Lots of characters have lots of conversations that don't go anywhere and the story is fairly hard to follow. It's also full of holes. Early in the film, Inescort goes with he grandfather to kill Lugosi and succeeds. Then, 20 years later, Lugosi returns and she doesn't even remotely recognizes him. I think I'd remember the first vampire I stuck a spike into. Really, when it comes down to it, the film just is not interesting enough. It's a little boring and it's hard to want to watch the whole thing, even at just over an hour long.
|Coming soon: Dracula: The Sitcom!|
There is some fun to be had with The Return of the Vampire. Lugosi is back and just as good was he was before. Willis makes for a great werewolf and a personal favorite part of the film and the setting is unique and well done. But, unfortunately, it's all lost on a mediocre movie. The rest of the acting is spotty, the story is weak, messy and full of hole and the film itself is just not very interesting. Not a terrible way to kill an hour, but Lugosi has done better. The Return of the Vampire gets 3 stars out of 6.