The Corpse Vanishes

The Corpse Vanishes is a 1942 American mystery and horror film starring Bela Lugosi, directed by Wallace Fox, and written by Harvey Gates. Lugosi portrays a mad scientist who injects his aging wife (played by Elizabeth Russell) with fluids from virginal young brides in order to preserve her beauty. Luana Walters as a journalist and Tristram Coffin as a small town doctor investigate and solve the disappearances of the brides.

The Corpse Vanishes
Theatrical poster
Directed byWallace Fox
Produced bySam Katzman
Jack Dietz
Written byScreenplay:
Harvey Gates
Sam Robins
Gerald Schnitzer
StarringBela Lugosi
Luana Walters
Tristram Coffin
Minerva Urecal
Elizabeth Russell
CinematographyArthur Reed
Edited byRobert Golden
Banner Productions
Distributed byMonogram Pictures Corporation
Release date
May 8, 1942 (1942-05-08)
Running time
64 minutes
CountryUnited States

The film was later the subject of a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode in 1989.


On the day of Alice Wentworth's wedding, mad scientist Dr. Lorenz sends the young bride an unusual orchid, the scent of which places the young woman in a state of suspended animation resembling death. He then spirits her body away to the basement laboratory of his isolated mansion and extracts glandular fluid from behind her ears to inject into his vain and aged wife in order to renew her youth and beauty. This is only the latest in a series of brides who appear to die at the altar and whose corpses subsequently vanish en route to the hospital or mortuary, and the police are thoroughly stymied.

A young journalist, Patricia Hunter, investigates the case and discovers it involves an unusual orchid. She is directed to Lorenz, a known expert on orchids, and visits his mansion where she meets with a chilly reception from his wife. She is forced to spend the night when a storm washes out the bridge to town, and discovers horror in the cellar beneath the Lorenz mansion: a crazed old woman and her two sons, one a sadistic dwarf and the other a hulking half-wit, all of whom assist Lorenz in his activities; and a mausoleum in which he keeps the bodies of his bride-victims, not all of whom may be entirely dead yet.

Also staying the night is a neighboring young doctor, who attends Countess Lorenz for other medical issues. When Patricia confides in him what she is investigating and what she has witnessed in the house, he agrees 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, but he outfoxes them, chloroforming Hunter and carrying her to his laboratory to now use her bodily fluids upon his wife. However, during his escape, his dwarf-accomplice is shot and captured by the police. Back at the mansion, Lorenz is stabbed by the crazed old woman, Fagah, who holds Lorenz responsible for her sons' deaths. He strangles her, then collapses and dies. Fagah rallies weakly and stabs the Countess to death. The police, and the young doctor who has led them to the mansion, arrive and Hunter is freed.



Filming started 13 March 1942.[1]


Home media

In 2009, the film was available on DVD.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 showed the movie in the fifth episode of their first season. The movie was considered so bad that when Tom Servo was questioned by Joel if there was anything positive from the movie, he short circuits. The MST3K episode is available in the collectors volume 16.


Bela Lugosi also starred in another 1942 horror film, Bowery at Midnight. In a scene in that film outside a cinema, an advertising poster for The Corpse Vanishes outside the cinema doors features Lugosi's image and name.

Mystery Science Theater 3000

The Corpse Vanishes was featured in episode #105 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 along with Chapter 3 of Radar Men from the Moon, a Commando Cody serial. The episode debuted in December 1989 on the Comedy Channel.[2] MST3K writer Mary Jo Pehl describes the movie as "nonstop boredom and yawns aplenty" and a "low-key quasi-thriller."[3]

Like all the other first-season MST3K episodes, The Corpse Vanishes did not make the Top 100 list of episodes as voted upon by MST3K Season 11 Kickstarter backers.[4] Writer Jim Vogel also took a dim view of the episode, ranking it #184 (out of 191 total MST3K episodes). "It's not the worst movie in the world, although it is very weird," Vogel says, remarking that the low energy level from the riffers makes this an MST3K episode likely to bore the audience.[5]

The MST3K version of The Corpse Vanishes was released on July 20, 2010, by Shout! Factory as part of the Mystery Science Theater Collection, Vol. XVI DVD set along with Warrior of the Lost World (episode #501), Santa Claus (episode #521), and Night of the Blood Beast (episode #701).[6]

See also


  1. Of Local Origin New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 13 Mar 1942: 22.
  2. Episode guide: 105- The Corpse Vanishes (with short: Radar Men from the Moon, Chapter 3: 'Bridge of Death'). Satellite News. Retrieved on 2018-07-12.
  3. Beaulieu, Trace; et al. (1996). The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide (1st ed.). New York: Bantam Books. p. 13. ISBN 9780553377835.
  4. Bring Back Mystery Science Theater 3000 Update #41. Kickstarter. Retrieved on 2018-07-12.
  5. Ranking Every MST3K Episode, From Worst to Best. Vorel, Jim. Paste Magazine. April 13, 2017. Retrieved on 2018-07-12.
  6. MST3K: Volume XVI. Shout! Factory. Retrieved on 2018-07-12.

Mystery Science Theater 3000

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