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Return of the Vampire (1943)

I normally watch 80s and modern slasher type films, so I went with something a little different today, and I watched Return of the Vampire from 1943, which of course stars the one and only Bela Lugosi.

Right off the bat, (vampire pun intended) this movie had me slightly chuckling. The vultures in the cemetery made some sort of high pitched squealing sound instead of the significantly more ominous classic vulture croak. The other effects however, were wonderful and very well done. The hair work on the werewolf character and his human transitions, the deep dark shadows in many of the shots, how they didn't actually show Bela Lugosi's face until about halfway through the film, and in the ending when he melts, all contributed to a very spooky classic feel atmosphere.

One thing of note about this film I have to comment on is that it is set in 1918 during the first World War, and then after the time skip 1941 during the second World War, and the large role that the wars had on the storyline. I thought that this was rather clever, seeing as the German attacks on London helped Lugosi's character by freeing him from being buried underground, and then later aiding in his escape and capture of his victim. Since this came out in 1943, the Nazis were a big threat to all, and so this played off of people's real fear, in addition to the film generated fictional fear.

The film also had some great comical moments as well. I thought that some of the characters were overly unintelligent, and that the "god squad" saving the day at the end was a little cliche for my tastes. But it was totally appropriate for the time it was made, and had a very strong cohesive plot line. One of my favorite things about the film was the very end, the Commissioner standing next to the melted vampire, asking other witnesses if they truly believed in vampires. Last shot of the film was him looking at the camera and asking the audience if they believed or not. This was a beautiful fourth wall break that I definitely did not expect. Overall, I surprisingly really enjoyed this film, and I think I may have to watch some others from this time period. ~Gangis

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