Public Domain Movies

The Corpse Vanishes (1942) Starring Bela Lugosi

The Corpse Vanishes: Film Review

The Corpse Vanishes is a black and white horror film from 1942, starring Bela Lugosi.

Lugosi plays Dr Lorenz, a brilliant scientist with an aged and sickly (and more than a little mad) wife. Lorenz’ wife, the Countess, might be getting on in years, but she looks a lot younger than she should. However, there is a price to pay for her vitality and she is not the one who must keep paying it. In an effort to keep his lady-love young and lovely(ish), Lorenz must keep abducting young women and extracting glandular fluid from them. The fluid is then used as the main ingredient in the potion that keeps a spring in the Countess’ step.

The Countess’ looks might be deceptive most of the time but, sadly, she is mad all of the time — the bats in her belfry might not be growing old gracefully, but they are still there.

The Corpse Vanishes - Film Poster with Bela Lugosi
The Corpse Vanishes Film Poster Featuring Bela Lugosi

For some strange reason that is never explained, the Dr only kidnaps brides on their wedding days. Lorenz sends each of his victims an orchid, which the brides believe is from their soon-to-be-hubby. ‘Wear it next to your heart’ the accompanying note instructs them, and they do.

Something stinks about the orchids though. Before the young ladies can get the words ‘I do’ out of their mouths they faint to the carpet and appear to be dead. Then, posing as people from the coroner’s office, Lorenz’ henchmen pick up the bodies and carry them out to their getaway hearse, which is conveniently parked outside. Once Lorenz has the brides safely in his lab he revives them and gets busy with his needles (and he ain’t knitting, folks).

The Corpse Vanishes has much in common with many other Bela Lugosi films. Once again Lugosi’s character seems to be a dab-hand at hypnotizing people, once again he is a mad scientist, and there is also a nosy female reporter thrown into the mix for a little added sex appeal.

Obviously, at the time, these things must have been considered to be essential ingredients for horror flicks. But if these are the ingredients, then the icing on the cake, for me anyway, had to be seeing Lorenz and the Countess lying side by side in his and hers coffins. “I find a coffin much more comfortable than a bed,” Lorenz tells the nosy female reporter, when she questions him. “Many people do so my dear.” The reporter looks less than convinced and who can blame her?

Additional Information

Director: Wallace Fox


Bela Lugosi … Dr. Lorenz
Luana Walters … Patricia Hunter, Reporter
Tristram Coffin … Dr. Foster
Elizabeth Russell … Countess Lorenz
Minerva Urecal … Fagah
Angelo Rossitto … Toby (as Angelo)
Joan Barclay … Alice Wentworth
Kenneth Harlan … Keenan
Gwen Kenyon … Peggy Woods
Vince Barnett … Sandy, Photographer
Frank Moran … Angel
George Eldredge … Mike