I think back pain must also effect the brain (cue brainless jokes) (you know who you are), because I had completely forgotten about another horror classic I watched on Saturday, The Corpse Vanishes (1942) starring Bela Lugosi.
Of course, starring Bela Lugosi is not a guarantee a movie will be any good or even that it will be a horror movie (remember when Boris Karloff played that Chinese detective?). Still, with the word “corpse” in the title, I figured we’d at least get to see those famous scary eyes.
The movie starts out quickly enough with a bride dropping dead just as she’s about to say “I do” (cue anti-marriage jokes). A photographer rushes in and takes a picture (paparazzi in 1942?). The undertaker takes the body away, and we catch a glimpse of some scary eyes in the back of the hearse. Oh boy! Then the real undertaker shows up. Oh no!
“Another kidnapping of a dead bride!” exclaims a girl from a newspaper who has just been denied an interview with the bride’s father. “What a story!”
At this point I sat up as straight as my bad back would allow and cheered. An intrepid girl reporter! Yay!
As per usual, Intrepid Girl Reporter gets no respect from her paper. The editor sends her to the next society wedding and he ONLY wants her to find out who’s there and what the bride is wearing.
“But what if I get a clue?” she asks. He does not deem this likely.
The mother of the bride in this wedding has demanded police protection. As the bride prepares, a mysterious orchid arrives, which she naturally pins right on. It MUST come from the groom, right?
Hello! Two minutes earlier the groom was at the door and was denied admittance. Would he not at that point have said, “Oh, well, give her this orchid from me.” That occurs to no one, and apparently the police protection does not extend to questioning deliverers of mysterious orchids.
Predictably, this bride also drops dead. They make sure the coffin gets on the right hearse, which is surrounded by motorcycle cops, but Bela cleverly steals it anyways. Intrepid Girl Reporter ends up with the orchid, which she — and nobody else — immediately recognizes as a clue.
Meanwhile, we follow Bela to his lonely mansion, castle, whatever it is (I missed the exterior shot), with the mysterious laboratory, and we find out why he wants the corpses of beautiful young women. He uses them (by means which are not clear but that hardly matters in a movie like this) to keep his wife young and beautiful. Does she have a wasting disease that makes her look old before her time? NO! She’s just old and doesn’t want to look that way! Come on, lady, none of us do! Slap on some Oil of Olay, schedule a Mary Kay makeover and drive on!
Perhaps I should be a little more understanding. These were the days before botox, after all. And, without this woman’s desire to look young, there wouldn’t be any movie. But she is so annoying! She’s crying with these big, loud sobs that go on and on, begging her husband to hurry, she needs [whatever he does] NOW! I was wishing he would give her a mysterious orchid so she’d just shut up already.
Intrepid Girl Reporter tracks down Bela through the orchid, which is surprisingly easy. What dumb cops they have in these movies. Law enforcement ought to sue Hollywood for defamation. Come to think of it, so should intrepid girl reporters, because this one is not a good representative. She spends a lot of time screaming and fainting (I think Fay Wray screamed once in The Mystery of the Wax Museum, but you really couldn’t blame her and she was intrepid the whole rest of the time).
It’s not a bad movie, in spite of Boo-Hoo Wife, Dumb Cops and Not So Intrepid Girl Reporter. There are some scary parts and a few creepy minor characters I haven’t mentioned (thought I’d save you something). One might wonder if it was really all that memorable, seeing as I forgot I had watched it till Monday morning when I was pondering my blog topic (it was kind of like, “Wait a minute, didn’t I see three movies on Saturday?”). But on looking back, I will give it this accolade: it was fun at the time.