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The Return of Chandu
The Return of Chandu the Magician / Chandu on Magic Island

USA 1934
produced by
Sol Lesser, Frank Melford (supervising) for Principal Pictures
directed by Ray Taylor
starring Bela Lugosi, Maria Alba, Clara Kimball Young, Lucien Prival, Deane Benton, Phyllis Ludwig, Cyril Armbrister, Murdock MacQuarrie, Wilfred Lucas, Josef Swickard, Jack Clark, Bryan Washburn, Peggy Montgomery, Elias Lazaroff, Dick Botillier, Frazer Acosta, Harry Walker, Charles Meacham, Isobel LeMall, Don Brodie, Edward Peil sr, Henry Hall, Beatrice Roberts, Iron Eyes Cody, Elias Schaffer, Merrill McCormick, Gloria Holden
screenplay by Barry Barrington, based on a radioplay by Harry A. Earnshaw, Vera M. Oldham, R.R. Morgan, musical director Abe Meyer

serial
Chandu the Magician

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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It's a social gathering in her honour at Dorothy Regent's (Clara Kimball Young) place, but still Princess Nadji (Maria Alba) fears for her life, as the cult of Ubasti & their highpriest Vindhyan (Lucien Prival), are behind her & want to sacrifice her to give new life to their goddess. But fortunately, Nadji has Chandu the Magician at her side, who soon enough foils a plan to poison her, & when Nadji soon afterwards is abducted, he can free her using his magic powers. But unfortunately, the saved Nadji is in a deep trance not even Chandu can wake her up from ... but to keep her out of the cult's reach, he takes her on a yacht trip, along with Dorothy Regent & her kids Bob (Deane Benton) & Betty (Phyllis Ludwig) - bad idea actually, as Vindhyan has already sneaked aboard the yacht, & soon enough has kidnapped Nadji again.

However, Chandu & Bob can track Vindhyan down, & n a secret temple engage him in a fight that ends in Vindhyan's death. Nadji meanwhile has awakened from her trance & now seems to be saved from the cult of Ubasti for good ...

... or so everyone thinks, as another highpriest of Ubasti, Vitras (Jack Clark) is already on her trail, & soon has her abducted to Lemuria, a mysterious island in the Pacific, inhabited by cannibalistic savages 6 the cultists of Ubasti alike.

Chando, Dorothy Regent & her kids Bob & Betty try to follow Nadji to Lemuria, but first their ship is wrecked, then they are attacked by Lemuria's savages, & soon enough, Dorothy, Bob & Betty become prisoners of the cultists, only Chandu escapes but soon finds himself in a labyrinth with all his magic powers gone. However, he finds help in Tyba (Josef Swickard), a White Yogi & former ruler of Lemuria, who like Chandu wants to fight the cult. Tyba gets him not only out of the labyrinth, but also helps him withstand many a danger, free Dorothy, Bob & Betty, & finally save the Princess, even if she was forced to denounce Chandu & will in to be sacrificed earlier on.

In the end, Chandu can break the power of the cult by switching the body of their dead goddess for Nadji, & with his magic power restored, he destroys the cult of Ubasti & Lemuria goes up in a volcanic eruption.

Chandu, Nadji, Dorothy, Bob & Betty are saved however, & Chandu & Nadji even might marry soon ...

 



in 1932, Fox Film made the popular radio drama about the adventures of magician Chandu into the film Chandu the Magician, starring Edmund Lowe in the title role & Bela Lugosi as the villain. However, when the film didn't prove to be the expected success, options for more Chandu-adventures were handed down to  the smaller production outfit Principal & its head Sol Lesser, who produced this serial in 1934, dropping Edmund Lowe from the cast but keeping Bela Lugosi, but this time around giving him the role of the good guy - which Lugosi does quite well, by the way, mainly because he is so convincing when doing magic.

The serial as a whole is a bit uneven, it does great considering colourful sets (especially the temple of Ubasti, dominated by a giant cat idol, is impressive), & does feature some imaginative torture scenes (even if some, like a swinging pendulum [Edgar Allan Poe's Pit and the Pendulum] are borrowed from elsewhere), but in action & pacing, the serial leaves much to be desired, & in general a hero who resorts to magic to solve most of his problems can at times be quite annoying (& boring as well), as it takes the suspense out of the story.

The first four episodes of the serial (which end with the death of high priest Vindhyan) were condensed into a feature film (also titled The Return of Chandu) - which works quite well as they tell a self-contained story. Later episodes 5 to 12 were condensed into a feature (Chandu on Magic Island) as well, which works not quite as well, since the material was trimmed to about half the length.

Film afficionados by the way might recognize the great wall on Lemuria from King Kong.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
starring
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry

 

directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

now streaming at

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
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Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
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