HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Raya and the Last Dragon
Letter from Paris
Behind the Mask
Lucky
Matrix, The
Undergods
Betrayed
Fried Barry
Once Upon a River
Cowboys
Atlantis
We Still Say Grace
Enfant Terrible
Nomadland
Playboy of the Western World, The
Bike Thief, The
Threshold
Virtuoso, The
Here are the Young Men
Beast Beast
Labyrinth of Cinema
Justice Society: World War II
Artist's Wife, The
Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation
Pusher III
Palm Springs
Devil Commands, The
Oak Room, The
Pusher II
Forget Everything and Run
Secrets & Lies
Red Moon Tide
Man with Nine Lives, The
Pusher
Pot Carriers, The
Black Bear
Don't Cry, Pretty Girls!
Portal
Me You Madness
Reckoning, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
   
 
  Chandu the Magician Lugosi Has A Death Ray!
Year: 1932
Director: Marcel Varnel, William Cameron Menzies
Stars: Edmund Lowe, Irene Ware, Bela Lugosi, Herbert Mundin, Henry B. Walthall, Weldon Heyburn, June Lang, Michael Stuart, Virginia Hammond
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Frank Chandler (Edmund Lowe) has been studying under the tutelage of an Eastern mystic, and has at last completed his schooling, becoming Chandu, the first white man to be a yogi. In the temple which has become his home, he tries out his newly acquired powers, performing the Indian rope trick, having an out of body experience and walking over flaming coals without coming to any harm: there is no doubt in his master's mind that he is ready to enter the wider world. But he will have a mission to vanquish every evil he finds, and one in particular is pressing, that of Roxor (Bela Lugosi), a villain who has designs on the intellect of Chandu's brother-in-law (Henry B. Walthall). Why is that? Because the scientist has created a death ray!

A death ray that has the potential to destroy whole cities should it be misused, which begs the question, what else would it be used for? Why create it in the first place? The answer to that would be to give this comparatively brief movie an exciting finale as it is about to be unleashed and Chandu does his level best to prevent it, for this was what used to be termed hokum, pulp fiction to keep the kids and indulgent adults entertained and often in the form of an outmoded art, the movie serial. These had emerged more or less at the same time as the radio serial, when the medium was used for drama or comedy as much as it was for music, and tuning in every week - or every day, even - to catch up with the adventures of your favourite characters was something millions did.

So what better for the story-hungry movies to do than loot the radio for material, hence that medium's Chandu made it to the big screen, first as a standalone film and next as a serial, placing Lugosi in the title role? In the first film, he was in his by now quickly developed villainous persona thanks to Dracula typecasting him as an exotic presence of malevolence, and though that was not what he would play exclusively, it remained what he was best known for, it was expected of him (which offered the opportunity for producers to use him as a red herring in their thrillers as well). As anyone will tell you, his Roxor was the definite highlight as far as the actors went, a perfect marriage of over the top scheming and the full-blooded gusto of the star.

Lowe was the ostensible lead, and was in dashing, affable stylings as was typical of the day, a solid grounding of heroism amidst the surroundings of Egypt, or what passed for Egypt in Hollywood of the era. Though this was not a lavishly-budgeted effort, it conjured up a genuine sense of otherworldliness thanks to James Wong Howe's glowing cinematography and the imaginative art design with cleverly used sets and miniatures all creating an atmosphere of the arcane, a sense of danger for Chandu and his sister's family to face peril in. There was also a princess, Nadji (Irene Ware, an actress who never quite made stardom), for our man to romance and rescue, and this being a Pre-Code movie there were instances which would never have gotten by the censors a couple of years later, such as the eye-searing torture device or Chandu's niece (June Lang) at a white slavery auction where she was plainly clad in a slip and nothing else (don't get too excited, the actress was only fifteen at the time).

But it was the thrills that this was here for, and directors Marcel Varnel and William Cameron Menzies (who must have been in charge of those sets) kept this rocketing forward with great pace. If the idea of Bela Lugosi getting his hands on his own, personal death ray sounded irresistible entertainment to you, then this would deliver on the fun without a doubt, and though he was not in this as much as perhaps his fans would have liked him to be, he was certainly making his scenes count, practically rubbing his hands together and smacking his lips with glee at the thought of wiping out half the human race and forcing the rest of it into slavery. In addition, there was comedy relief from the tragically shortlived Herbert Mundin, a Liverpudlian character actor who made a niche for himself in Hollywood: his bits of business with his own, tiny double, generated by Chandu to put him off the demon drink, offer an impression of how wacky this could get. More interesting from a social point of view, the concerns that the masses could be swayed by a charismatic madman was definitely in the air. But mainly, this was a rollicking good time for vintage aficionados.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1573 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: