The Return Of The Vampire

The Return Of The Vampire (1943)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Bela Lugosi, Roland Varno, Frieda Inescort, Matt Willis
Extras: Trailers

After his 1930 silver screen appearance as Dracula, Bela Lugosi kept playing vampires for a very long time. In 1943, he put on the black cape once again for Lew Landers’ film ’The Return Of The Vampire,’ in which he plays Armand Tesla, another ageless undead with a preference for human blood. This time he returns to take revenge on a family that was responsible for his temporary destruction years earlier. With the help of a werewolf he carefully devises and executes a plan to destroy them all.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment is releasing ’The Return Of The Vampire’ in its original fullscreen presentation here. Unfortunately the studio did not do much restoration or notable clean-up on the film, and the result is a presentation that is showing quite a number of speckles and dust marks. Fortunately the print itself is in fairly good shape and no serious jumps or registration errors are evident. The black and white print has good contrast and never looks faded. Blacks are solid and whites are well balanced. The gradients in between are nicely presented, considering the movie’s considerable age.

The audio on the DVD comes as a monaural Dolby Digital track. Given its technical limitations, the track is surprisingly clear and free of defects. No background noise or hiss is noticeable and the elements are always clear and understandable. Slight distortion and a narrow frequency response mark the track, which is typical for films of the era.

Other than two trailers for other films the DVD contains no extras at all, not even a filmography or biography on the cast and crew members.

’The Return Of The Vampire’ is certainly not one of the greatest vampire films of old, but it serves as a good example how filmmakers at the time reused their formulas to create atmospheric horror films that entertain. Too bad Columbia had no extras to add to this release, but overall it is a solid film in a solid presentation that all fans of Bela Lugosi will enjoy, no doubt. I am certainly glad to have this film in my collection as it is another fine addition to the classic 30s/40s horror film releases that are all too sparse.