The horrors of war are compounded in Columbia Picture’s 1943 film THE RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE. Bombs dropping on London in the blitz uncovered the coffin of the Armand Tesla, a 200-year-old Hungarian vampire. With the help of his werewolf slave, Tesla is out for blood in a classic tale of revenge against the family who trapped him underground for 2 decades.
Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray release of THE RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE brings life into a celebrated classic. With high definition picture quality, contemporary audiences can enjoy this classic film like never before. A major highlight of this film is the performance of Bela Lugosi as Armand Tesla. Bela Lugosi from the 1931 Dracula fame brings another meaning to the return of the vampire. His performance as the sinister Tesla is memorable and noteworthy. As a famous vampire actor, Lugosi does not disappoint in his role as Tesla.
In addition to a vampire, this film also highlights a werewolf. Tesla’s werewolf assistant, played by Matt Willis, makes a compelling counterpart. It is interesting for audiences to see a vampire and werewolf collaborating together in a film. Audiences may enjoy reflecting on the vampire and werewolf lore that was included in the narrative. The vampire appears to have special abilities that were specifically chosen for the film that are somewhat different than how contemporary films portray vampires. The hierarchy between the vampire as the master and the werewolf as a servant is also interesting. In terms of production of the monsters, a major highlight is the high quality of werewolf makeup. There is a scene where the audience observes the werewolf changing that is particularly impressive.
Overall, although the film has aged and can feel somewhat slow, it will likely be enjoyed by most horror fans. The film delivers a classic vampire narrative with solid production. Contemporary audiences can expect to enjoy RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE as a reflection of how depictions of the vampire have shifted in film.