“He is a beast, an animal. And some day I shall have to destroy him.”
It’s Alice Wentworth's (Joan Barclay) wedding day. The young bride-to-be receives a beautiful orchid. When she smells it, she falls down apparently dead. Her dead body is kidnapped. She is not the first bride to die on her wedding day, or to have her body stolen.
Patricia Hunter (Luana Walters) is a reported assigned to the society page. Her assignment is to attend weddings of famous people and write fluff pieces about them. At Alice’s wedding the newspaper’s photographer picks up the orchid and gives it to Hunter. Hunter notices the unusual scent and being a reporter does a little research on it. She finds out that all the young women who died at the altar were wearing orchids such as this one. To find out more she is directed to the leading authority on orchids, Dr. Lorenz (Bela Lugosi). She tries to visit Dr. Lorenz but ends up walking a good part of the way until she is picked up by Dr. Foster (Tristram Coffin). Dr. Foster is working with Dr. Lorenz to find a cure for Dr. Lorenz’s wife the countess Lorenz (Elizabeth Russell).
A thunderstorm comes up and washes out the bridge to town. Hunter is forced to stay the night. The countess is not happy to have Hunter in her house. During the night an ogre type man comes into her room. Hunter wakes up and screams sending the man scurrying. Hunter finds a hidden panel that takes her to the cellar. She wanders around and finds Dr. Lorenz’s secret laboratory and finds two women in what looks like a morgue. Then she finds the body of the ogre that was in her room. She faints. When she wakes up, she is in her bed, and it is morning.
Unbeknownst to Dr. Foster, crazy Dr. Lorenz has been putting brides in a state of suspended animation resembling death. He extracts glandular fluid from behind their ears. He injects the fluid into his wife in order to renew her youth and beauty.
Patricia convinces Dr. Foster to help her. She leaves the next day for the city and, with her editor, develops a plan to trap Lorenz with a staged wedding and plenty of police protection.
“The Corpse Vanishes” was released in 1942. It was directed by Wallace Fox and produced by Monogram Pictures. Monogram Pictures put out a lot of “B” movie stuff. It was one of the smaller studios that were collectively referred to as Poverty Row. Monogram was known for movies with lots of action on a shoe-string budget.
The movie is fast paced and a bit crazy. Bela is as sinister and as creepy as ever. His character is vicious and sadistic. His wife, the countess, is just as evil and vain. The other characters that live in the isolated mansion are freakish in one way or another. The reporter is fast talking and snarky. Dr. Foster is handsome and charming. The cast of characters are over the top caricatures of what you would expect in a horror movie. Even the title of the movie is dark and mysterious. The whole thing is a hoot. I’ve watched it several times and it’s been a blast every time.