October 24, 2020
1402.) As we move steadily toward Halloween, there isn’t enough holiday-related programming on the tube. My humble effort in this direction is this week’s a show, part two of a series of episodes about the up and (very) down career of Bela Lugosi. In this episode, I move from the mid-Thirties, when he was already firmly established as a star at both the major studios and their “poverty row” counterparts, to the early Forties, when Monogram was his true “home” for a time. The juxtaposition is dizzying – around the time of the beginning of WWII, Bela was playing supporting roles in major-studio productions like Son of Frankenstein (in which he created his second best-loved character, Ygor) and Ninotchka, and he was also starring in ultra-low-budgeted thrillers for Monogram. The latter are a source of fascination, due to the absolute weirdness of their scripts, and the fact that the first entry in this “cycle” of pictures was directed by Joseph H. Lewis, who was able to invigorate any genre film he worked on. Hang on, this will get even weirder in the episodes to come!