Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Somebody Needs a Doodle (or Happy Birthday Bela!)

Has Google ever done a Google Doodle celebrating Bela Lugosi's birthday? If not, you'd think with his birthday being barely a week-and-a-half from Halloween, it would be a no-brainer. Whether or not Google chooses to celebrate the master, Monster Kid Radio's Derek is recognizing birthday boy Bela today by running down some of his favorite Lugosi performances in no particular order:

Ygor - Son of Frankenstein/Ghost of Frankenstein. Derek recently revealed that Ygor is one of his favorite Jack Pierce make-up designs, and while Pierce's work is without equal, Lugosi's performance is certainly as responsible for the success of that character. That Ygor was originally written as a much smaller part in Son of Frankenstein is unfathomable at this point. Lugosi steals the show. His Ygor in Ghost of Frankenstein is still enjoyable, even if he is a little cleaned up a little bit.

Dr. Paul Carruthers - The Devil Bat. As much as he's associated with playing vampires (and a very specific vampire at that), Lugosi also shines in the role of the mad scientist. The Devil Bat is one of the best of the poverty row films, and that's almost solely because of Lugosi's varied performance as the scientist driven to guilty revenge.

Dr. Vitus Werdegast - The Black Cat. At first blush, one might think Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff were miscast in this film. Karloff as the villain? Lugosi as the sort of hero? That doesn't make any sense, does it? Oh, it does in this film. It's fascinating to see both of these titans of terror play against type, and it's a shame Lugosi didn't have more opportunities to play characters like this. (Granted, Werdegast does take things a bit too far when he finally has his way with Karloff's Poelzig.)

Von Housen - Vampire Over London (My Son, The Vampire). Is this high art? No. Does Lugosi have an opportunity to disspell the myth that he couldn't handle comedy? Definitely. Additionally, there are shades of mad scientist here as well which always makes Bela watchable.

Count Dracula - Dracula. Is there anything that hasn't already been said about his performance in this groundbreaking film? (Will you be seeing this film when it plays in the theater this month courtesy of Fathom Events? Derek can't wait!)

Clearly there are more films in Lugosi's filmography worthy of extra attention and/or praise. What are some of your favorites?

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