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The Return of the Vampire (1943) – Episode 43 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“You’re a fool, Andreas! A complete, utter fool! Your fate is to be what you are — as mine is to be what I am… your Master!”  It’s always best to know your place, and who could resist the commanding voice of Bela Lugosi, right? Join this episode’s Grue Crew — Joseph Perry, Chad Hunt, and Jeff Mohr (Whitney Collazo was on special assignment, but should be back next episode) — as they chase down the hidden 1940s gem,  The Return of the Vampire.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 43 —  The Return of the Vampire  (1943)

Remember that classic sequel to Tod Browning’s  Dracula  (1931)? The one featuring  Bela Lugosi’s second appearance as Dracula? Well, this is it, except this is not a Universal Picture and Lugosi doesn’t play Dracula. Instead,  The Return of the Vampire  is a Columbia Picture and the names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

Directed by dependable journeyman  Lew Landers, and written by  Griffin Jay  from an idea by  Kurt Neumann,  The Return of the Vampire  features the legendary vampire, Armand Tesla. Really. His name is Tesla. Lugosi does double duty as Tesla and Dr. Hugo Bruckner, the famous vampire expert. The film also features an unexpectedly articulate, talking werewolf, whose lines are ably enunciated by  Matt Willis. The hero of the story is Lady Jane Ainsley (Frieda Inescort), a very smart, take-charge scientist who out matches Sir Frederick Fleet (Miles Mander), the Scotland Yard Inspector on the case. The focus of Tesla’s efforts is the young and beautiful Nicki Saunders, played by the impressive and versatile  Nina Foch. The cast is rounded out with some comic relief from two gravediggers (those guys are always funny) and a couple of detectives reporting to Sir Frederick Fleet.

Despite its relatively low budget,  The Return of the Vampire  has an impressive cast and crew and the Grue Crew all agreed it is far better than one might have expected at first. Joseph saw this as youngster and the final scene has stuck with him for  all  the decades that have passed. The werewolf looked more like a dog to Chad, but even so, he appreciated the character and the genuine arc he had. Jeff, on the other hand, was really impressed with the quantity and quality of the fog in the graveyard. At any rate, this episode’s Grue Crew strongly recommends  The Return of the Vampire  as somewhat of a hidden gem of the 1940s.

The Decades of Horror: The Classic Era Grue Crew plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule will be  Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein  (1948), the runaway winner of our latest Patreon Poll. Yay! More Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., and Jane Randolph and our first film with Glenn Strange!

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the films we love. Send us an email or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcast, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you so much for listening!

Jeff Mohr
Jeff lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long-time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an Old Boy. Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk. Jeff has written for Horrornews.net and SQ Horror Magazine. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is a co-host of the Decades of Horror podcasts - The Classic Era, 1970s, and 1980s - and the Gruesome Magazine Podcast.