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Review: Voodoo Man (1944)

The last of Bela Lugosi’s films for “Poverty Row” studio Monogram, Voodoo Man reunited the fading horror legend with William Beaudine, who’d directed him in the previous year’s The Ape Man. Shot over seven days during the autumn of 1943, this rather lack-lustre resurrection drama also features intermittent support from George Zucco and John Carradine, although only Zucco seems to be enjoying himself.

Lugosi plays the latest in a long line of deranged scientists, Dr Richard Marlowe, who’s been kidnapping lone women motorists in a bizarre attempt to rejuvenate his deceased wife (who looks darned fresh for someone who apparently died in 1912). Marlowe’s inventions include an EMP device capable of stalling car engines and some form of remote viewer linked to a television screen, but it doesn’t seem to occur to him that both might prove useful to the US war effort, such is his obsession with the voodoo ceremonies conducted by Zucco.

Don’t look him in the eyes!

This is a very slight affair, a bundle of deranged sorcery, police incompetence and unlikely coincidences which is wrapped up without sixty-two minutes. Lugosi deserved better, and makes little effort to hide his own knowledge of just how far he’d fallen since 1931’s Dracula.

[Originally published in The Dark Side, 2019.]

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