I remember seeing Tor in The Lemon Drop Kid (a comedy with Bob Hope) and going WTH? Was that Tor Johnson? And indeed it was! He was seldom credited, but Tor was a bit player and an extra in bunches of Hollywood movies in the 1930s and 1940s.
Well I'll be darned. Just one more way in which the Ed Wood film lied to us.
Including one of my favorite W.C. Fields movies, The Man on the Flying Trapeze, wherein he plays one of the wrestlers.
I recently bough the W.C. Fields boxed set and still need to make my way through it. My daughter and I are currently finishing up the Harold Lloyd collection.
I watch Safety Last fairly regularly because it’s just so damn good! And I also love Girl Shy! Seen it a few times over the years.
With this flying dreadnaught under me, I can wipe out all mankind! Now the Hulk will be the HUNTER instead of the HUNTED!
It's debatable if this can even be considered a Bela film. Released nearly three years after his passing, it contains (by my count) only eight shots containing Bela. Furthermore, it went into production after Bela died, using test shots and footage from another unrealized project. Bela had no knowledge of this film, didn't agree to be in this film, and (as far as I know) his estate did not receive compensation for his appearance in this film. Still, he got top billing on the film, and it is (unfortunately) a film he is associated with almost as often as Dracula.
Plot (0-5 points): As with Glen or Glenda, one has to give Wood credit for vision ahead of his time. When you unwrap all that is wrong with the script and dialogue, what you are essentially left with is a film about the dead rising from their graves on a massive scale a decade before Night of The Living Dead. And yet, just like with Glen or Glenda, everything else about this script is ludicrously bad. 1/5
Atmosphere (0-5 points): Part of what hurts most about this film is how hard it tries, but fails anyway. You can watch one of Don Glut's homemade monster films and feel less pain because it is clearly filmed in an alleyway by a bunch of kids, but Wood piles on the thick fog and then gives you cardboard tombstones grouped impossibly close together. He gives you the iconic visual look of Vampira, and then shows you a slow-motion car chase happening in the same scene but inexplicably by daylight. We get half convincing flying saucers and then a cardboard airplane cockpit. Tor Johnson rises from the grave to the swelling of decent music and solid lighting, but it's Tor Johnson, and his face and mannerisms just can't carry off the moment. We come so close to GOOD atmosphere that the weaknesses hurt even more. -2/5
Other Actors (0-3 points): I really don't think these folks are as bad as the actors in Glen or Glenda. Criswell's hokey narration, Tor Johnson, and the police officer scratching himself with a gun aside, these folks are almost adequate. 0/3
The Lugosi Factor (0-10 points): He may have proudly asserted that he was a new man with a new lease on life in his interview outside of the state hospital, but this is not A level Lugosi we are seeing in these eight shots. Granted, it was mostly test footage, but Bela could do amazing things in serials filmed in one take. Here, he is melodramatic to the point where his acting would look downright laughable if it weren't for the cast he is surrounded with. Still, it's the final recorded performance of Bela, and that's worth something. 1/10
Overall: Who would have thought we'd ever see a film score 0/23 in this thread?
Last Edit: May 15, 2020 11:39:12 GMT -5 by shaxper
Well, it's a wrap, folks. Five and a half months to cover Bela's entire (surviving) recorded career, and I regret nothing. I now know these films better than ever and have lost none of my appreciation for them, nor for the actor who is the center of this thread.
In October, I'll be conducting a Top 25 Bela Lugosi films countdown, based upon the scoring I did here. If you're curious enough, you can already piece the list together, though I plan to rewatch all 25 films and adjust my scores if necessary. As of now, Dracula is in the top 10, but not the top 5.
As of now, the stats are as follows:
Films from thw 1920s: 2 Films from the 1930s: 12 Films from the 1940s: 10 Films from the 1950s: 1
Films from Universal: 9 Films from Poverty Row: 5 Films with Karloff: 5 Films where he plays a vampire: 5 Films that are not actually films: 1 (I'm such a stinker!)
Here's a little added bonus I figured some of you haven't seen before: here's the full, unedited interview Bela gave upon being discharged from Metropolitan State Hospital at the conclusion of his treatment for morphine addiction in 1955. Haunting how full of hope Bela is for the future when he will be dead in a year. This was his sixth-from-final recorded appearance:
Finally had that moment where I instinctively wanted to put on a Bela film I'd never seen before, and then had the sobering realization that I've seen them all. Or at least all the ones that are readily available.