The Corpse Vanishes
|The Corpse Vanishes|
|Directed by||Wallace Fox|
|Produced by||Sam Katzman
|Edited by||Robert Golden|
|Distributed by||Monogram Pictures Corporation|
|May 8, 1942|
The Corpse Vanishes is a 1942 American mystery and horror film starring Bela Lugosi, directed by Wallace Fox, and written by Harvey Gates. Lugosi portrays a mad scientist who injects his aging wife (played by Elizabeth Russell) with fluids from virginal young brides in order to preserve her beauty. Luana Walters as a journalist and Tristram Coffin as a small town doctor investigate and solve the disappearances of the brides.
The film was later the subject of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode.
On the day of Alice Wentworth’s wedding, mad scientist Dr. Lorenz sends the young bride an unusual orchid, the scent of which places the young woman in a state of suspended animation resembling death. He then spirits her body away to the basement laboratory of his isolated mansion and extracts glandular fluid from behind her ears to inject into his vain and aged wife in order to renew her youth and beauty. This is only the latest in a series of brides who appear to die at the altar and whose corpses subsequently vanish en route to the hospital or mortuary, and the police are thoroughly stymied.
A young journalist, Patricia Hunter, investigates the case and discovers it involves an unusual orchid. She is directed to Lorenz, a known expert on orchids, and visits his mansion where she meets with a chilly reception from his wife. She is forced to spend the night when a storm washes out the bridge to town, and discovers horror in the cellar beneath the Lorenz mansion: a crazed old woman and her two sons, one a sadistic dwarf and the other a hulking half-wit, all of whom assist Lorenz in his activities; and a mausoleum in which he keeps the bodies of his bride-victims, not all of whom may be entirely dead yet.
Also staying the night is a neighboring young doctor, who attends Countess Lorenz for other medical issues. When Patricia confides in him what she is investigating and what she has witnessed in the house, he agrees to help her. She leaves the next day for the city and, with her editor, develops a plan to trap Lorenz with a staged wedding and plenty of police protection, but he outfoxes them, chloroforming Hunter and carrying her to his laboratory to now use her bodily fluids upon his wife. However, during his escape, his dwarf-accomplice is shot and captured by the police. Back at the mansion, Lorenz is stabbed by the crazed old woman, Fagah, who holds Lorenz responsible for her sons’ deaths. He strangles her, then collapses and dies. Fagah rallies weakly and stabs the Countess to death. The police, and the young doctor who has led them to the mansion, arrive and Hunter is freed.
- Bela Lugosi as Dr. Lorenz
- Luana Walters as Patricia Hunter
- Tristram Coffin as Dr. Foster
- Elizabeth Russell as Countess Lorenz
- Minerva Urecal as Fagan
- Angelo Rossitto as Toby
- Frank Moran as Angel
- Vince Barnett as Sandy
- Kenneth Harlan as Editor Keenan
- George Eldredge as Mike
- Joan Barclay as Alice Wentworth
- Gwen Kenyon as Peggy
Filming started 13 March 1942.
In 2009, the film was available on DVD.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 showed the movie in the fifth episode of their first season. The movie was considered so bad that when Tom Servo was questioned by Joel if there was anything positive from the movie, he short circuits. The MST3K episode is available in the collectors volume 16.
Bela Lugosi also starred in another 1942 horror film, Bowery at Midnight. In a scene in that film outside a cinema, the advertising poster outside the cinema doors is for The Corpse Vanishes and features Lugosi's image and name.
- Of Local Origin New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 13 Mar 1942: 22.
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- The Corpse Vanishes is available for free download at the Internet Archive
- The Corpse Vanishes on Internet Movie Database
- The Corpse Vanishes at AllMovie
- Review of The Corpse Vanishes at Behind the Couch