Shadow of Chinatown (1936)

Written by talisencrw on April 19, 2016

Bela Lugosi is one of my favourites of the first stage of horror presences (not including silent cinema), but compared to his contemporaries (Boris Karloff, Vincent Price and Lon Chaney Jr.), he had more than his share of turkeys. The atmospheric, Hungarian-born, quite charismatic actor starred in one of them here, in this 'Charlie Chan'-knockoff serial. I tend to love them, but this is a minor, 70-minute editing of the 15-episode, 281-minute edition. It has decent supporting players, in Joan Barclay and Bruce Bennett, a woman trying to become an exciting news reporter, rather than simply the newspaper's society column editor, and her boss, respectively, who end up, predictably enough, romantically entangled as they try to discover what and who's behind raids threatening competitor merchants in San Francisco's Chinatown from the business interests of Lugosi's employer, the gorgeous Dragon Lady (Luana Walters). Lugosi gives your money's worth as the despicable and ruthless villain.

My copy came from my legendary Mill Creek 50-pack 'Nightmare Worlds', and if you enjoy serials, Lugosi or 30's detective films such as the 'Charlie Chan' series, it's a decent poor-boy's version and worth a watch. I would prefer to see the full version, but that's just me. If you're just marginally interested in them or prefer Lugosi in his more horrific fare, this may prove boring for you, and I would suggest that instead, you stick to his better-known projects with more money behind them and better directors--they offer you much more meat to sink you ahem teeth into.