31 Days of Halloween-Day Two: Return of the Vampire (1944)

In 1944, 9 years after Mark of the Vampire and 13 after playing the lead in Dracula, Bela Lugosi was back again a vampire. This time, he was Armand Tesla aka Dr. Hugo Bruckner. He is clearly channeling the vampire role that had made him famous and haunted him for the rest of his career. Set in 1940 war-torn London, it’s a tale of revenge with some bloodsucking and the world’s friendliest werewolf this side of Fruit Brute (fans of his cousins Boo Berry and Franken Berry will know who I’m talking about). This movie was originally intended as a sequel to Dracula until Universal threatened Columbia Pictures with a lawsuit. It was the first time a werewolf and vampire headlined a movie and the last time Bela Lugosi headlined a movie from a major Hollywood studio. It’s readily available on DVD (although it could use a restoration) and definitely worth checking out. It’s been a few years since I watched this and recommend it for
Lugosi fans.

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5 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween-Day Two: Return of the Vampire (1944)

  1. One of my favorites! Actually, the Croatian-American inventor Nikola Tesla passed away in 1943. I often have wondered if the writers dug up Armand Tesla’s name as tribute to Tesla the inventor. His death resulted in much publicity -a naval ship was named after him and there were many tributes in ’43.

    For Return, Columbia pretty much copied the visual style of the Universal films. I love the ending! Grisly stuff for 43! Good job Rich.

  2. Ok cool. I love Return of the Vampire! I think Armand’s name was probably based on Nikola Tesla, who died in 1943. Tesla the inventor was in the news in 43 with a naval ship being named the U.S.S. Tesla and several tributes during this timeframe.

    I think Columbia basically copied Universal’s visual style for “Return” and it worked. The film reminds me a bit of Franky Meets the Wolfman.

    Good job Rich.

  3. I’m a HUGE fan of this film, and think more people need to see it. It may be one of the first if not the first monster movie to show the relationship between vampires and werewolves. We hadn’t seen that subservient-to-the-vampire depiction until this movie (and I know a lot of folks don’t like the werewolf in this movie, but I thought he looked GREAT).

    Additionally, and maybe more importantly, Lugosi is FANTASTIC in this film! Free of the stagey-direction of Tod Browning, Lugosi is able to give us even more in terms of subtlety and genuine threat.

    • I really liked the subserviant werewolf and also liked how he looked. I do think he came off as a little whimpy at times though but he more than made up for it in the end. And I agree, Lugosi was wonderful in this one.

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