Monday, December 6, 2010

Bowery at Midnight (1942)

Smack dab in the middle of Hollywood's obsession with New York City's Bowery district is Bowery at Midnight. Bela Lugosi is respected family man and phychology professor Frederick Brenner. But by night he leads a double life as kindly soup kitchen operator Karl Wagner. But later at night he leads a triple life as criminal mastermind, also Karl Wagner.

Apparently Bela uses the soup kitchen to recruit criminals to explore his own fascination of crime and murder. When does this man sleep? When one of his students visits the kitchen in order to surprise his hottie fiancee, he is surprised himself to bump into Prof Bela. Bela is eager to further his students education by bumping him off. Wonder how things will work out?

Not much of a movie. The only reason why I watched it was because another Lugosi movie I intended to watch on Netflix streaming was going offline, and the last couple days it was available, Netflix was "performing maintenance" on the title. Well, it's gone now and I never got to see it.

Time to split hairs. What is "horror"? Making the audience feel fear is not enough, otherwise many movies would fit the bill, plus quite a few baseball games. No, there must be an element of evil or the supernatural. Sure, Bela was evil, but if Jimmy Cagney played the role, there would be no doubt that this is a crime drama, not a horror flick. But because Bela plays the staring role, it's horror. No dice, pal. Didn't work for The Bat either.

Now, there is one horror element. According to IMDB, this is a Zombie film. Sure, add some zombies and Bam, you got yourself a bona fide horror film. Problem is, the zombies (if that's what they are), were added into the script as seamlessly as attaching a third arm.

Come to think of it, THAT would be a good horror element. But I speak (type) figuratively. Suddenly (spoilers ...) all of the people Bela killed appear in the basement to seek revenge. Were they really dead? Were they resurrected? Who cares, this movie stinks.

Not a horror film. Not a zombie movie. Barely watchable at the best of times. I feel obligated to give it an AMRU 2.5 because it's better than that Revolt of the Zombies trash.

Hey! Real life criminal and murderer Tom Neal is in it, playing a criminal and murderer! Wow, what casting!

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