Corpse Vanishes, The (1942)

Corpse Vanishes, The (1942)

“Another kidnapping of a dead bride’s corpse — what a story!”

A spunky reporter (Luana Walters) investigates a rash of kidnappings involving brides who faint and die at the alter after receiving orchid corsages. When she learns about a mysterious madman (Bela Lugosi) who creates a serum from the brides’ corpses to keep his aging wife (Elizabeth Russell) looking youthful, Walters — with the help of a concerned doctor (Tristram Coffin) — concocts a plan to trap him.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Amateur Sleuths
  • Bela Lugosi Films
  • Horror
  • Journalists
  • Kidnapping
  • Mad Doctors and Scientists

This run-of-the-mill horror flick by Monogram Pictures is, as noted by Richard Schreib at his Moria Reviews site, “marginally better” than most of the Poverty Row studios pictures produced at the time — but ultimately not good enough to merit inclusion in Peary’s book. Bela Lugosi’s performance is as limited as ever:

… and the plot — while mildly titillating — is full of holes (are the kidnapped brides really dead? why does Lugosi need so many? how long does his special serum last? is he looking for virgin blood?).

While no great actress, Luana Walters — as the film’s feisty, no-nonsense protagonist — ultimately emerges as the most enjoyable aspect of the film; too bad she’s given such a dated and cliched final scene.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A refreshingly spunky female lead (Luana Walters)

Must See?
No, unless you’re a diehard Bela Lugosi fan.


One thought on “Corpse Vanishes, The (1942)

  1. First viewing. As the opening credits roll, you can just about smell how bad this film is about to be.

    You may be tempted to stick around to see if it’s pleasurably bad.

    It ain’t. (I’m sure Ed Wood loved it – and Lugosi in it – but it completely lacks the OTT quality that is Wood’s trademark.)

    Sure it has many ominous trimmings: bad, bad Bela; evil cohorts; mysterious deaths; a dark and stormy night, etc.

    Nevertheless, your mind will wander. You’ll just want this very l-o-n-g 64 min. to end.

    Walters is, in fact, spunky. It’s sad to think that this may be one of her ‘better’ films. See IMDb re: her long, odd, ultimately sad career.

    Lugosi’s career at this point had taken a bad turn. There was a bit of a reprieve to come (just 1945’s ‘The Body Snatcher’?) but ‘TCV’ points up his limitations, and he seems to be already ‘preparing’ for ‘Glen or Glenda’.

    Russell’s exotic look would serve her somewhat well later (‘The Curse of the Cat People’, ‘The Seventh Victim’, ‘Bedlam’, etc.).

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