A deluge of horror features was piled higher and higher by Bela Lugosi in his post-Dracula high. He and other contemporaries spent much of their later careers chasing the initial success that had awarded them with the role of a lifetime as a great monster of literature. Boris Karloff at least fared somewhat better than Lugosi, who by the time The Dark Eyes of London was dumped on him had been assigned to the B-Movie merry-go-round after Paramount changed their production focus. It left Lugosi as a man whose name value would swiftly diminish, but could be capitalised on in the few years it had left to bulk up some smaller features that weren’t going to be remembered all that well. Case in point, The Dark Eyes of London, which has aged poorly and been remembered by few.
Drugs will ravage the heart and tear at the mental fibre of man, but nobody was hit so desperately hard as Bela Lugosi. Here, he meets a gorilla from Brooklyn. A six-day shoot crafts barely eighty minutes of footage. Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla is exactly what it says on the tin, and it is a remarkable pointer for the trajectory of the eponymous leading man. Lugosi, not the gorilla. Only one year on from this and he found himself brushing shoulders with addiction and Ed Wood. Both are poison to any career, but the problems started much earlier for Lugosi, earlier than his anonymous narration of Glen or Glenda.
Literature has taught us that, usually, when scientists are mentally dispossessed, they are gracious enough to go mad on a hidden island. H.G. Wells kicked that trend off, where a mad doctor secludes himself before asking for outsiders to enter. Good on Dr. Moreau, and if there were more like him and the talented, ruined mind he displays in Island of Lost Souls, then the world would likely be a safer place. Slam them onto a tropical island like Tom Hanks in Cast Away and see how they fare. If they develop weapons of some kind, then we should worry. But doubts are looming over their ability to do so when stuck on an island all alone. At least, Earle C. Kenton and his direction here make sure we are worried.
As if Edinburgh were not scary enough, The Body Snatcher depicts the dark and deceitful world of grave robbing. A literal body snatcher, John Gray (Boris Karloff) treats himself to the freshly buried corpses, turning a profit here or there when he finds the mettle necessary to hand them in to the highest bidder. Who can blame him? The economy was tough back then, maybe as tough as it is now. He spins a few quid here or there eliciting immoral acts, digging up the dead and flogging them to the nearest doctor. How very Victorian of Gray to do so. But it is more than light treachery, The Body Snatcher depicts a man in the throes of complete psychosis, hacking away at buried bodies.