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Revisiting the Classics: THE CORPSE VANISHES

Sometimes when I’m writing about an old movie I will use this tagline, and I will put the word “classics” in parenthesis. You will note that I have not done so in this case. I am not attempting to be ironic. Rather I maintain that THE CORPSE VANISHES, starring Bela Lugosi, is underserving of its status as a “bad” movie. Flawed, yes. Beneath Mr. Lugosi’s abilities, perhaps. But overall it’s rather enjoyable. Sure it got riffed on MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000, but even the guys behind MST3K admit that it was a poor choice for lampooning. Said writer Jim Vogel concerning the selection of THE CORPSE VANISHES for the MST3K treatment: “It’s not the worst movie in the world, although it is very weird.” Well, it is a little weird, and in the hands of a more skilled director might have been a TRUE classic. Even so, it’s far too good a movie to end up on MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER. The latter sometimes got it wrong, friends. Remember when they lampooned THIS ISLAND EARTH? Some serious shark-jumping happened there. The formula doesn’t work if you’re trying to make fun of GOOD movies. You just end up looking like an imbecile or an asshole.

But back to THE CORPSE VANISHES. Bela does the mad scientist shtick, poisoning young brides and then stealing their bodies to use to keep his wife perpetually young. It seems obvious that the women used for these experiments must needs be virgins, hence the whole taking of brides on their wedding day thing, although this is never stated directly. It’s essentially the story of Elizabeth Bathory, with Bela thrown in for ballast. It’s worth checking out, even if it isn’t quite the film it could have been.

TheCheezman • September 14, 2018

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