Click here to return to the main site.

Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Voodoo Man (1944)
(2019 Reissue)


Starring: Bela Lugosi, John Carradine and George Zucco
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £14.99


Certificate: 12
Release Date: 24 June 2019

Film screenwriter Ralph Dawson is asked by his boss for another manuscript, but he’s about to get married and due some leave. A friend of his wife-to-be is lured off the road by a bogus detour sign, and kidnapped by the henchmen of Doctor Richard Marlowe. The doctor’s wife has been dead for a number of years, and seeks to revive her by transferring the essence of a live woman into her using the power of Voodoo. There have been several failures; these women remain hypnotised and captive. Dawson and his fiancé try to find their friend with the help of the local sheriff but she, too, is captured. This time the subject could prove compatible for Marlowe, so the race is on to find Dawson’s betrothed before the ceremony can be completed...

This is the Voodoo Man’s debut release on Blu-ray and DVD. It’s always great to get the chance to enjoy these old films. This one from 1943 was penned by Robert Charles, but is said to be heavily borrowed from Andrew Colvin’s Tiger Man, which the film company purchased earlier the same year. It’s very much a product of its time; horror and thrillers from the 1930s and 1940s seemed to follow a similar pattern, so it’s easy to realise how they evolved into the sci-fi monster B-movies in the 1950s. The filming schedule was very tight, taking place over only seven days. In the same manner, the plot is played-out very concisely. There is no padding here, as the running time is only 62 minutes.

Of course, the main draw is Bela Lugosi in the role of Doctor Marlowe. He certainly made an impressive impact in Universal’s Dracula, but also every part thereafter was a re-enactment of that character. Here, he has the power of hypnotism over people – particularly the women victims. Close-ups of his eyes mirror that moment in Dracula. He may be called Voodoo Man, but in actuality it is another man performing the ceremonies, waving his arms about in every relevant scene and chanting a string of nonsense. Outside of his own house, Lugosi’s Marlowe is the perfect charming gentleman, although he does give away so many clues that you would have to be a complete fool not to suspect him from the beginning. The film also stars John Carradine and George Zucco. There is something about this era – also repeated for a time in some 1970s movies – which obviously felt obliged to incorporate a silly or mentally challenged character as light relief. This materialises as a slow-on-the-uptake sheriff, a lazy and complaining deputy, and two Igor-like dogsbodies to Marlowe.

I like the way this ends-up being a film within a film, when Dawson presents his new screenplay (what we have just witnessed) to his boss, and suggests the actor Bela Lugosi for the lead. The picture quality on this old film is simply amazing. I do think the initial RRP is far too high for what amounts to an hour-long film with no special features, but the price will drop. I recommend that vintage film collectors wait awhile before adding this to their viewing library. It’s not a classic, by any means, but it’s worth a look.


Ty Power

Buy this item online