Voodoo Man is a 1944 American supernatural horror feature film directed by William Beaudine (Billy the Kid versus Dracula; Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter; Ghost Chasers) from a story and screenplay by Robert Charles (Return of the Ape Man). The movie stars Bela Lugosi, John Carradine and George Zucco.
Nicholas (George Zucco) apparently runs a filling station in the middle of nowhere. In reality, he is helping Doctor Richard Marlowe (Bela Lugosi) capture young ladies, so he transfer their life essences to his long-dead wife. Also assisting is Toby (John Carradine), who shepherds around the leftover zombie girls and pounds on bongos during voodoo ceremonies.
The ostensible ‘hero’ is a Banner Productions screenwriter who, at the end of the movie, turns the experience into a script titled “Voodoo Man.” When his producer asks who should star in it, the hero suggests … Bela Lugosi.
Voodoo Man was released in the UK on Blu-ray by Fabulous Films on 24 June 2019.
“Though no more expensive or ambitious than any of his earlier Sam Katzman-produced vehicles, Bela Lugosi’s Voodoo Man is perhaps the best of the batch, if only because of its quirky supporting cast and casually offbeat dialogue.” All Movie
” …Bela Lugosi is the solid core of the film, an absolute straight man at the heart of the silly weirdness of the rest of the movie. Yeah, he may be a mad scientist who dresses funny for voodoo rituals, but the scene where the mumbo-jumbo briefly pays off by reviving his brain dead wife’s soul is a genuinely touching…” The Bela Lugosi Collection
“Lugosi makes the viewing worthwhile but “One Shot” Beaudine’s direction is uncharacteristically competent, making the proceedings more bearable than they might have been. The notoriously slipshod director seems to have taken some care over this one, though at times he’s a sloppy as ever…” The EOFFTV Review
” …it’s not the mistakes in Voodoo Man that make it the enjoyable piece of cinema that it very much is. It’s a script filled with lines like “Fetch my dead wife!” and “She deserves a good paddling!” combined with enthusiastic performances from Lugosi, Zucco, and John Carradine…” House of Mortal Cinema
“Despite their general crumminess, the Lugosi Monogram cheapies attempted metatextual humour a surprising amount! Voodoo Man is merely ok, but that marks it as better than quite a lot of movies of its type, and this one stars Bela Lugosi to boot, among other big names…” Not This Time, Nayland Smith
” …it may be the best-paced, least convoluted Monogram film Lugosi made. It’s ably directed by William Beaudine and looks like a lean, mean film-in-a-week film […] It may be outlandish, but it’s never dull.” Plan 9 Crunch
“Voodoo Man could easily have ranked with some of Lugosi’s better Monograms: it’s eerie plot, which combines futuristic science with black magic, had good possibilities […] Unfortunately, the opportunity is in many wasted. The film brims with egregiously poor dialogue, repetitive situations and more than a few dead spots, and Carradine and Zucco play the most demeaning roles of their careers.” Tom Weaver, Poverty Row Horrors!, McFarland, 1993
“The whole thing wears its poverty row origins very plainly on its sleeve but there’s no shortage of charm here. A quirky harp-centric score is also noteworthy, simply because it’s… odd and uncommon, while the plethora of ‘weird science’ devices and concepts that are scattered about give the film some quirky character.” Rock! Shock! Pop!
“A pleasantly tacky Monogram B movie, with paper-thin action and Bela Lugosi hamming wildly from start to finish.” Time Out
“While the story itself isn’t the most original […] Voodoo Man benefits from having not one, but three actors at the top of their game. Lugosi is once again cast as the heavy, but seeing as his character is doing it all for love, we can sympathize with him to a point…” 2,500 Movies Challenge
“The movie’s whole zombie element primarily comes across as parading women around as visual objects, Marlowe’s experiments amount to a veritable machine for female objectification, with women going in one end and women’s bodies coming out the other.” Peter Dendle, The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, McFarland, 2001
Cast and characters:
Bela Lugosi … Doctor Marlowe
John Carradine … Toby
George Zucco … Nicholas
Wanda McKay … Betty
Louise Currie … Sally
Tod Andrews … Ralph (as Michael Ames)
Ellen Hall … Mrs Marlowe
Terry Walker … Alice
Mary Currier … Mrs Benton
Claire James … Zombie
Henry Hall … Sheriff
Dan White … Deputy
Pat McKee … Grego
Mici Goty … Housekeeper
Dorothy Bailer … Kidnapped Girl (uncredited)
George DeNormand … Policeman (uncredited)
John Ince … S.K. – the Producer (uncredited)
Edward Keane … District Attorney (uncredited)
Ethelreda Leopold … Kidnapped Girl (uncredited)
Ralph Littlefield … Sam (uncredited)
Charles McAvoy … Policeman (uncredited)
Dennis Moore … Policeman (uncredited)
Black and white
Aspect ratio: 1.37: 1
Filmed in October 1943. During production, co-producer Sam Katzman told UPI Hollywood correspondent Frederick C. Othman: “I call this a moron picture. I have made a number of these films and I claim there must be something wrong and anybody who goes to see ’em… Just look at me, making all this money and with a fancy house and swimming pool. Do I deserve it? For making moron pictures?… This is a cockeyed business. We dream up these hokey stories and we hire some actors and a fine director like Bill Beaudine. Then the money flows in as if we were great geniuses. We’re not. We’re just lucky to be sitting in the right seats.” quoted from EOFFTV
Read more about Voodoo Man in Guilty Pleasures of the Horror Film book
Image credits: Wrong Side of the Art!