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BELA LUGOSI COLLECTION

As far as I’m concerned, Bela Lugosi was one of the kings of Hollywood. The much-maligned star appeared in so many low-budget, trashy horror movies that he developed a reputation as a bad actor. Nothing could be further from the truth. Despite the fact that many of Bela Lugosi’s films were less than sterling, he was always worth watching. Of course Lugosi’s thick Hungarian accent made some of the lines he delivered laughable, all one had to do was to look in his eyes to see that the man was a powerful performer. With that said, we come to Lumivision’s DVD release of the BELA LUGOSI COLLECTION ($30). This double feature is comprised of two ultra-low budget thrillers, THE DEVIL BAT and SCARED TO DEATH.

While THE DEVIL BAT may have been a poverty row wonder, it is actually quite an entertaining little movie and Lugosi gives one of his best scenery chewing performances. In THE DEVIL BAT, Bela Lugosi portrays Dr. Paul Carruthers (believe it if you dare), the outwardly kindly cosmetic company scientist who harbors a homicidal rage against the company which he feels cheated him out of profits. Dr. Carruthers breeds huge bats to be his assassins and develops a special after-shave to attract the bats to their target. The cast of THE DEVIL BAT features Suzanne Kaaren, Dave O'Brien, Guy Usher, Yolande Mallott and Donald Kerr. Lumivision’s black and white transfer for THE DEVIL BAT is respectable considering that a major studio didn’t preserve this film. The film element does have its share of blemishes, but in their own way they add to the viewing experience. The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack won’t win any awards for high fidelity, but the dialogue remains intelligible.

SCARED TO DEATH has a reputation as being one of the least-watchable films of Lugosi’s career. At times the incomprehensible plot is tough going, but being able to see Lugosi in color makes up for quite a bit. The plot of SCARED TO DEATH is beyond belief. A woman’s corpse relays the tale of her death from a slab in the morgue. The film is almost completely a flashback and concerns a very strange household where doctors, maids, private detectives, dwarfs and hypnotists run rampant. The doctor’s son hopes to get a divorce from his very strange wife, who is fearful for her life because of a dark secret from her past. None of it makes too much sense, but at least the actors don’t bump into the scenery. Lugosi plays the hypnotist and gets to look very menacing in a black cape while spouting inane dialogue. SCARED TO DEATH is bad cinema at its best/worst. The cast of SCARED TO DEATH features George Zucco, Molly Lamont, Douglas Fowley, Nat Pendleton, Gladys Blake Joyce Compton, Roland Varno and Angelo Rossitto.

SCARED TO DEATH looks good on this DVD. The colors are a little surreal looking because the film was produced in the very cheap Natural Color process. The film element is in pretty good shape with only minor markings. Digital compression artifacts were noticeable in places, but hardly a problem on either film. The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack was acceptable for a film from this vintage. When you first place this DVD in the player, a menu appears on screen giving you a choice of which film to view. The interactive menus offer the standard scene selection feature.

 
BELA LUGOSI COLLECTION 


Bela Lugosi Collection Volume 1 (1940)

 


DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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