Voodoo Man (1944)
For this Monogram low budget special we get three well known boogie men showing up for the film’s rapidly paced 60 minutes. One of them a horror film Icon.
If you are at all familiar with Monogram’s output then the names of producer Sam Katzman and director William “One Shot” Beaudine should be household names in your viewing world. They both had a hand in numerous Bowery Boys films and by extension some of Bela’s films as well through the poverty row studio.
This one starts out like so many modern horror films today that feature a chainsaw. A young lady stops at a gas station for directions only to be given false ones putting her in harms way. George Zucco delivers the false set of directions and John Carradine turns up to grab the young lady. Her destination? Bela’s mansion off the beaten path where he plans on using her in a voodoo ritual. The purpose is some soul swapping scheme to bring life back to his catatonic wife. George Zucco in a truly embarrassing get up leads the chanting.
The experiments haven’t been working to well as Bela has a whole collection of young girls that are in zombie states. Fortunately for them they have an edgy and disheveled Carradine to stroke their hair and tell them how pretty they are.
When a second woman disappears, Hollywood scriptwriter Tod Andrews begins to solve the disappearances and leads the local sheriff out to Bela’s to do some poking around. This affords Bela the opportunity to get a little cagey to hide his voodoo operation.
When Bela’s recent captive Louise Currie wanders off Andrews pieces the mystery together and we’re treated to one final voodoo display featuring Zucco chanting to Carradine’s wonderful playing of the drum while Bela goes for the soul transfer. It should come as no surprise that things don’t work out as planned.
Our trio of leads would also appear together in the “classic” Return of the Ape Man which was also released in 1944. While Bela was primarily in poverty row pics by this time, both Zucco and Carradine would still get character parts in “A” budget films from the major studios. Our film’s director would re-team with Mr. Carradine years later for the classic in title only, Billy the Kid vs. Dracula.
For an in joke at the closing of this Beaudine effort we get Andrews handing in a script of the proceedings with the suggestion to his producer, “Why don’t you get that actor Bela Lugosi. It’s right up his alley.”