Friday, October 21, 2016

Horror Countdown 2016: Chandu the Magician (1932)

Chandu the Magician (1932) dir. William Cameron Menzies, Marcel Varnel, Fox Film Corporation

Moving back a bit, we take some time to look at the filmography of Bela Lugosi. Dracula had made him a household world. How could he follow up such a performance? The 1930's version of a super hero film mostly.

Chandu the Magician was a popular radio show (1932 to 1950) focusing on the adventures of Chandu. In reality American born Frank Chandler, Chandu is tasked by his teachers in India to use his mystical abilities to conquer the evil that threatens mankind.

Frank Chandler (Edmund Lowe) has just finished his years of study in India. After studying at the feet of the various yogis, Chandler is now capable of teleporting, astral projecting, as well as being a master hypnotist. Taking the name Chandu, he is ordered to go to Egypt and investigate the doings of a madman named Roxor (Bela Lugosi). It's somewhat personal too, as Roxor has kidnapped Chandu's brother-in-law Robert Regent (Henry B. Walthall). Regent is a scientist working on a death ray. Roxor is aware of Chandu though, so he also has Robert's entire family kidnapped as well as the Egyptian princess Nadji (Irene Ware), who Chandu loves.

Can Chandu save his friends and family?

Not bad, although Chandu is a bit overpowered. Anytime Roxor throws something at the guy he just hypnotizes or teleports away. Any danger that gets introduced is removed fast enough. Lugosi saves the film though, making every scene he's in memorable.

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