Thursday, 25 September 2014

Dark Eyes of London (1939)

In Bowery at Midnight, Bela Lugosi plays an apparent philanthropist who maintains two identities and is secretly a murderous mastermind.  In this film, he plays an apparent philanthropist who ... well, I'm sure you can guess the rest.

The similarities between the two films were probably what led to them being paired together.  Here, they form part of a 10-pack, but they were originally a "two movies on one DVD" deal, as evidenced by the cover picture on the back of this boxed set:

Honestly, I think that matching the two movies together, at least in this order, does this film (which you can also find under the title The Human Monster) a disservice.  For one thing, it was filmed three years earlier; for another, it's based on a story by Edgar Wallace.  In the early years of the 20th century, Wallace was an extremely successful mystery writer, though these days he is probably best remembered for writing King Kong.  What that means is that this film actually has a solid core to work from, with the result that we get a movie which, if it's not good enough for me to recommend it, at least makes some kind of sense.

Here, for instance, Lugosi's dual identities actually assist him in his nefarious deeds, instead of being a glaring Achilles Heel in his plans.  What a concept!

Now this is not to say that the film lacks flaws: Lugosi's plan requires his victims all die by the same method, and for them all to be insured by his insurance company, which unsurprisingly draws the suspicions of Scotland Yard.

But you know, it's not random zombies out of nowhere and people recovering from being dead, so it's certainly a step up from the last Lugosi film I watched.

Overall, I didn't mind this, but there's not enough to it that I'd give it a recommendation to anyone who wasn't an aficionado of Edgar Wallace's works.

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