‘Horror to make your hair stand on end!’
The Corpse Vanishes is a 1942 American mystery horror film directed by Wallace Fox (Pillow of Death; Bowery at Midnight) from a screenplay written by Harvey Gates (Werewolf of London) based on a story by Sam Robins and Gerald Schnitzer.
The Monogram Pictures-Banner Productions movie stars Bela Lugosi, Luana Walters, Tristram Coffin and Elizabeth Russell (Bedlam; The Seventh Victim; Cat People). The producers were Jack Dietz and Sam Katzman.
Mad scientist Doctor George Lorenz (Bela Lugosi) injects his ageing wife (Elizabeth Russell) with fluids from virginal young brides in order to preserve her beauty. Journalist Patricia Hunter (Luana Walters) and Doctor Foster (Tristram Coffin) investigate and solve the disappearances of the brides…
“While the plot isn’t quite as bewildering in its step-by-step progression as, say, Invisible Ghost’s, the sheer lunacy of the ideas driving it more than makes up for the slight increase in narrative clarity. The Corpse Vanishes really is the apotheosis of the old-school house-full-of-crazies movie, assembling a grab-bag of manias, perversions, deformities, and mental deficiencies…” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
” …a bad movie. In fact, I’d say it’s worse than an Ed Wood film; if nothing else, Wood’s pictures provide a few laughs with their over-the-top dialogue and cardboard set pieces. The Corpse Vanishes doesn’t even offer that much. It just kinda sits there, lifeless and dull…” 2,500 Movies Challenge
“Despite the typical Monogram drawbacks — murky photography, stolid staging, ramshackle sets — The Corpse Vanishes remains one of the more deliciously outrageous horror exercises of the 1940s.” All Movie
“The Corpse Vanishes rambles along at a fairly brisk pace and though creaky in places, it does manage a modicum of suspense in a few scenes set in the ghoulish mansion. A few shudders are also generated by the sadly underdeveloped monstrous ‘family’ who work for Lorenz and lurk in the dark shadows of the mansion. While far from a masterpiece, the film is infinitely better than many of its poverty row peers.” Behind the Couch
“The Corpse Vanishes, despite its faults, is fun to watch for Lugosi fans eager to see our hero play to the balcony again. It’s not a great film by any stretch, but for connoisseurs of bad cinema in general, and Lugosi’s infamous “Monogram Nine” in particular, it’s definitely must-viewing!” Cracked Rear Viewer
“Monogram Pictures studios’ medium-grade low-budget horror film is done with lip-smacking relish, Lugosi is magnetically watchable, Harvey Gates’s screenplay is attractively bonkers, and the results are not too bad.” Derek Winnert
” …the doctor and his wife sleep in coffins for no other reason than to give the heroine a cheap scare (“I find a coffin much more comfortable than a bed,” he says.), and his scheme to obtain bodies seems unnecessarily elaborate; why not just go find a beautiful woman, knock her on the head and drag her body to the house?” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
“After playing so many mad scientists, it’s not a great stretch for Bela to play a mad botanist. He almost sleepwalks through this one. This might be due to the non-challenging dialogue, or the morphine addiction which had been plaguing him for some years by this time. That probably accounts for the large number of bad films he was in – in his dreamy state, everything looked good.” Horror Newt
“The film engenders a degree of suspense in the scenes in the mansion, deriving a certain frisson out of the strange characters lurking around – a dwarf companion, a lecherous idiot who has to be driven away and made to stop leering at the heroine, and Lugosi’s serenely aloof wife who we find he is experimenting on and sleeps in a coffin. Moderately better than most others of its ilk from the same era.” Moria
“The Corpse Vanishes is a highly enjoyable spooky time! It ticks all the boxes it needs to, even if it does have its flaws, and I recommend it if you want to watch some old-fashioned horror with one of the genre greats in a role at least slightly befitting of his talents…” Not This Time, Nayland Smith
“A shot of Bela in the morgue wagon coffin, looking stunned, eyes wide, is invariably greeted with chortles. By the time the film is wrapping up, and Lugosi is chasing Minerva Urecal ‘round and ‘round the operating table in a scene out of a Three Stooges comedy, viewers caught up in the fun are usually weak from laughter.” Tom Weaver, Poverty Row Horrors!
“Barely an hour-long, The Corpse Vanishes doesn’t hang about, but Poverty Row horror quickies like this can be habit-forming, and with this, you can see why. Plus Lorenz and his missus sleep in matching coffins – it’s horror gold, I tell you.” The Spinning Image
” …just like The Devil Bat (1941), this one too has notable plus points: it boasts some unabashedly offbeat casting, a leering performance from Bela, and solid support from Walters and Coffin. The low rent grittiness of Corpse, its slightly rough-edged feel, predate the grindhouse drive-in fodder of the early ’70s – sans gore, of course.” The Terror Trap
Cast and credits:
Bela Lugosi … Doctor George Lorenz
Luana Walters … Patricia Hunter
Tristram Coffin … Doctor Foster
Elizabeth Russell … Countess Lorenz
Minerva Urecal … Fagah
Angelo Rossitto … Toby
Joan Barclay … Alice Wentworth
Kenneth Harlan … Editor Keenan
Gwen Kenyon … Peggy Wood
Vince Barnett … Sandy
Frank Moran … Angel
George Eldredge … Mike
Black and white
Aspect ratio: 1.37: 1
In 1942, British censors refused the film a certificate. It was eventually released in 1952 as The Case of the Missing Brides.