The Return of the Vampire, starring Bela Lugosi
Synopsis of The Return of the Vampire
In The Return of the Vampire, Bela Lugosi stars as vampire Armand Tesla. Decades before, he had been defeated and staked. The undead vampire was buried in an unmarked grave. But during World War II, German bombing releases him. Active once again in London, he’s aided by a reluctant werewolf. And he’s opposed by Lady Jane, who operates an asylum. Tesla goes in search of new victims to supply him with blood.
The Return of the Vampire is an excellent horror movie in many respects. It’s split in two halves – one around the time of World War I. The protagonist here is John Ainsley. In the first half, reading the notes of Armand Tesla, a scientist from a century ago, he’s convinced …. That the recent deaths are the work of a vampire. After his own daughter is bitten, he and his wife track down and stake the vampire. The vampire is … Armand Tesla himself!
It’s a very well done segment, with an eerie use of the “vampires cast no reflection”, as well as the vampire’s protector. The protector is a werewolf, who’s free to walk about during the day. With the vampire’s death, the werewolf is freed. And the couple spends years, offscreen, in helping him recover his “goodness” and faith.
Decades later, Nazi bombing during World War II unearths the vampire’s grave. And two unsuspecting grave diggers are tasked with re-burying the dead. They pull the stake out of the corpse, and re-bury it. That night, we see the hands of the vampire digging up through the ground …. And he summons his werewolf servant.
Andreas, the former servant, has spent long, tormented years regaining his humanity. But, the vampire could care less. He makes him his slave again, and turns him back into a werewolf. The vampire plans revenge on the couple who “killed” him. He already orchestrated the death of the husband …. And the wife, and their daughter, are next.
- In a real sense, The Return of the Vampire is the story of Andreas. As a man, he does not want to help the vampire, And he’s been fighting for decades to reclaim himself. Once Tesla reappears, he’s again forced to be his werewolf slave. Until the very end of the movie, where he has a final chance to be free …. Frankly, I cheered for him at this point.
- Bela Lugosi does an excellent job as the vampire Armand Tesla. Tesla is intelligent, heartless, remorseless, and bitter. And is without compunctions. Lugosi is very much playing the same character as in Dracula. And very well done.
- Lady Jane Ainsley is the protagonist. While she was secondary in stopping Tesla the first time, here she’s leading the way. The police don’t believe her? That doesn’t even slow her down. She’s right, she knows that she’s right, and she’s fighting to protect her daughter. Nothing will stop her.
- Andre, as a werewolf, is evil. It enjoys causing pain and suffering. Andreas the man is the exact opposite. He’s kind, nice, friendly … and guilt-ridden.
Review of The Return of the Vampire
Editorial review of The Return of the Vampire courtesy of Amazon.com
Bela Lugosi rises from the crypt in this blood-curdling horror classic. In 1918, Armand Tesla (Lugosi), a-year old Hungarian vampire, prowls the English countryside, feeding from the jugulars of the villagers. But Tesla’s reign of terror is interrupted when a pair of scientists, Lady Jane(Freieda Inescort) and Sir John Ainsley ( Roland Varno Insescort)and Sir John AInsley (Roland Canrno), drive a railroad spike through his heart. The “un-dead” Tesla remains safely entombed for two decades until the impact from a stay Nazi bomb accidentally re-leases him, Along with his werewolf servant, Andreas Obry (Matt Willis), the resurrected vampire now plots vengeance on the family that put a halt to his nocturnal feasting. For Lugosi at his most terrifying, it’s The Return of the Vampire.
- Bela Lugosi (The Devil Bat) as Armand Tesla/Dr. Hugo Bruckner.
- Frieda Inescort (The Judge Steps Out, Alligator People) as Lady Jane Ainsley.
- Nina Foch (An American in Paris, Cry of the Werewolf) as Nikki Saunders.
- Roland Varno (Scared to Death) as John Ainsley.
- Miles Mander (Marooned) as Sir Fredrick Fleet.
- Matt Willis as Andreas Obry.
- Ottola Nesmith as Elsa Walter.
- Gilbert Emery as Dr. Walter Saunders.
- Leslie Denison as Detective Lynch.
- William Austin (The Gay Divorcee) as Detective Gannett.