Monday, September 17, 2012
Black Dragons (1942)
Who's in it?: Bela Lugosi; Joan Barclay (The Corpse Vanishes); George Pembroke (Invisible Ghost); Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger)
What's it about?: One by one, Lugosi kills off a secret cabal of U.S. fifth columnists during WWII. Clayton Moore investigates the murders.
How is it?: It's not a horror movie, but gets into the 50 Horror Classics collection simply for having Lugosi in it. Most of the film is an interesting spy thriller. Lugosi moves into the home of one of the columnists (Pembroke) and uses it as his base of operations while he murders the others, leaving their bodies on the steps of the Japanese embassy with Japanese daggers in their hands. Barclay plays Pembroke's niece, who also lives in Pembroke's house and seems more interested in Lugosi's character than she is in Moore's G-Man who has the hots for her.
Unfortunately, the movie drives completely off the rails in the last few minutes as Lugosi's motivations are revealed. SPOILER: He's actually a former Nazi plastic surgeon who transformed Japanese spies (the titular Black Dragons) into U.S. industrialists so that they could become the fifth columnists. They betrayed him though and locked him in prison, but just HAPPENED to put him in a cell with a guy who looks exactly like Lugosi and was being released the next day. No bonus points for figuring out how Lugosi escaped. The movie was doing so well up to that point and would have been Good if only it hadn't tried for a shocking revelation.