Every year on October 20th I celebrate Bela Lugosi’s birthday. I love Bela. I love him as Dracula, I love him in Ed Wood Movies and I pretty much love everything in between.
The things I don’t love, I at least just let pass by me with a chuckle, the way you would let a good friend get away with, say, eating the last piece of cheesecake. “Oh Bela,” I laugh, “what were you thinking!?” (I say that mostly when I see Bela Lugosi meets a Brooklyn Gorilla – ugh!) Hey, but they can’t all be gems can they?
My favorite Bela Lugosi is of course Dracula,
And I have a fondness for all roles he played at Universal.
But my second favorite Lugosi movie is the underrated “White Zombie” The movie is so atmospheric and eerie, I just love it!
Looking for some different Lugosi films to watch this October? Here are a few more that I love, but don’t see much of:
The Island of Lost Souls. This movie is based on the AMAZING book by H.G. Wells. If you haven’t read it, do your brain a favor and do so as soon as possible! You’ll thank me later.
I believed they named the movie “Island of Lost Souls” due to some licensing problems . . . I could be wrong, but I really think that is why the name is different. Now there was a remake of this story in 1977 with Burt Lancaster and Michael York starring in it. I remember liking it as a kid, but watch it after you’ve watched this one. There is also a version made in 1996 with Marlon Brando playing Dr. Moreau and Val Kilmer – but no, don’t. Just . . . don’t. No.
The Island of Lost Souls stars Charles Laughton as Dr. Moreau, “An obsessed scientist conducts profane experiments in evolution, eventually establishing himself as the self-styled demigod to a race of mutated, half-human abominations.”
What could go wrong? Am I right? When creating the character of Dr. Moreau for the novel, H. G. Wells was inspired by the ongoing trials of Oscar Wilde. He saw both the man and the character as genius outcasts.
Bela Lugosi plays a half- man, half- beast being called the “Sayer of the Law” who recites Dr. Moreau’s teachings to the other Beast People.
Island of Lost Souls’ monster faces were crafted by the legendary makeup artist Wally Westmore, then head of Paramount’s makeup department, though he is uncredited in the film. Westmore, whose most celebrated work to that point had been in the Oscar-winning Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring Fredric March, would go on to do makeup for more than three hundred films.
A few of my other Lugosi recommendations are, “The Devil Bat, The Raven . . . oh there are so many good ones!
Whatever movie you decide to watch, raise a glass of . . . . wine . . . in honor of Bela today. I’m going to be eating some traditional goulash and wishing Bela a Happy Birthday!