The Corpse Vanishes – 1940s Horror With Bela Lugosi!

The Corpse Vanishes is a 1942 American mystery and horror film starring Bela Lugosi, directed by Wallace Fox, and written by Harvey Gates. Lugosi portrays a mad scientist who injects his aging wife (played by Elizabeth Russell) with fluids from virginal young brides in order to preserve her beauty. Luana Walters as a journalist and Tristram Coffin as a small town doctor investigate and solve the disappearances of the brides. The film bears some resemblance to the real world story of Elizabeth Báthory, a 16th-century Hungarian countess and serial killer who was said to preserve her beauty by bathing in the blood of virginal young women.

The film was later the subject of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode.

On the day of Alice Wentworth’s wedding, mad scientist Dr. Lorenz sends the young bride a poisoned orchid, the scent of which places the young woman in a state of suspended animation. He then spirits her body away to the basement laboratory of his isolated mansion and extracts her bodily fluids to inject into his vain and aged wife in order to renew her youth and beauty.

A young journalist, Patricia Hunter, investigates the case and discovers it involves an unusual orchid. She is directed to Lorenz, a known expert on orchids, and visits his mansion where she meets with a chilly reception. She is forced to spend the night when a storm breaks, and discovers the basement laboratory. In the morning, she hurries back to her newspaper offices.

Hunter and her colleagues make an attempt to trap Lorenz but he outfoxes them, chloroforming Hunter and carrying her to his laboratory to use her bodily fluids upon his wife. During the injection procedure, Lorenz is stabbed by an angry servant woman who holds Lorenz responsible for her sons’ deaths. He strangles her then collapses and dies. The servant rallies weakly and stabs Lorenz‘s wife to death. The police arrive and Hunter is rescued.

Bela Lugosi as Dr. Lorenz, a mad scientist trying to preserve his wife’s youth and beauty by injecting her with fluids removed from the bodies of young virginal brides
Luana Walters as Patricia Hunter, a newspaper reporter investigating the disappearances of the brides
Tristram Coffin as Dr. Foster, a small town physician who aids Hunter during her investigations and eventually marries her
Elizabeth Russell as Dr. Lorenz’s aged wife
Minerva Urecal as Fagah, a crone and Dr. Lorenz’s servant
Angelo Rossitto as Toby, Fagah’s son and a dwarf
Frank Moran as Angel, Fagah’s son and a brutish half-wit
George Eldredge as Mike, Lorenz’s henchman and the driver of his getaway car
Joan Barclay as Alice Wentworth, a bride who becomes Lorenz’s victim
Gwen Kenyon as Peggy, a nightclub cigarette girl who poses as a bride in Hunter’s scheme to trap Lorenz
Kenneth Harlan as Keenan, a newspaper editor and Hunter’s boss
Vince Barnett as Sandy, a newspaper photographer and Hunter’s colleague

About Andrew

Co-founder & lead investigator of Paranormal Encounters. I've experienced the paranormal all my life, having encountered ghosts, angels and demons. I live in a haunted house and when not exploring and researching the unknown, I enjoy single malt Scotch whisky & potato chips (though not necessarily at the same time).