Hey, Bela Lugosi's not evil in this one!
H. Bala | Carson - hey, we have an IKEA store! - CA USA | 07/15/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This black and white 1935 release is short at 66 minutes but is a ton of fun for the nostalgia buffs. For those grown-ups still nurturing an inner child, and who hearken back to a time when cliffhanger serials ruled the cinema, this one's right up the alley. Chandu on the Magic Island tells a strange tale of the occult and the battle between White and Black magic.
Bela Lugosi, more famed for portraying Count Dracula, reprises the role of turban-wearing Frank Chandler, better known as the White Magic sorcerer Chandu. In this one, Chandu must prevent harm from befalling the beautiful Egyptian Princess Nadji, who has been targeted as sacrifice by the depraved feline-worshiping Ubasti cult from the mysterious isle of Lemuria. Then, the stakes go up even higher when Chandu's sister, niece and nephew are kidnapped. Now, trapped in the vast, endless tunnels of Lemuria, Chandu finds his powers diminished. Will his magic be enough to win the day?
This is a nice change of pace for Lugosi, who has been pigeon-holed into portraying sinister characters for much of his film career. Here, he gets a chance to flex his "good guy" muscles, and acquits himself quite well, proving to be a charming and credible protagonist and even an adequate romantic figure. Still, there were moments where I expected him to burst out with a comment about his "chil-dren of the night."
A word to the wise: if the film seems abrupt and disjointed in certain areas, it's probably because of this: in 1934, a 12-part serial titled The Return of Chandu was released, later being edited and broken up into the 2 sequential cinematic pictures The Return of Chandu and this one, Chandu on the Magic Island. Still, while some scenes seem choppy, the exotic action sequences and a sense of high adventure remain intact. So sit back, relax, and sip from this mug of nostalgia.
Good stuff but the theater serial version is much better!
Patrick W. Crabtree | Lucasville, OH USA | 07/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the 1935 Feature Film which evolved from the heavy-handed editing of the following 1934 theater serial (broken down into 12 separate chapters), now available on two separate DVDs:
The Return of Chandu the Magician, Vol. 1
The Return of Chandu the Magician, Vol. 2
This Lugosi feature somewhat pales in comparison to that fine old serial version which runs a full 3 hours and 32 minutes -- the feature film version runs for only 65 minutes!
The SERIAL version is terrific (the movie is pretty good too but I prefer viewing the uncut version of the film) with Lugosi playing Frank Chandler, aka Chandu the Magician, as he battles on with the evil High Priest Vindhyan on the South Seas Island of Lemuria.
It is on this island where Chandu's fiancée, the Egyptian Princess Nadji (played by the lovely Maria Alba) is being held captive until Chandu can rescue her. You'll love seeing the special effects as Chandu "vanishes" into thin air -- it really freaks out his adversaries too!
The film is, of course, shot in black-and-white and the aspect is full-screen. It was directed by Ray Taylor. This is one of the few Bela Lugosi films where the great old Master of Horror plays "the good guy," which he pulls off very nicely. It's a great change from his typical and well-known vampire appearances but it's still a fine performance. I was reminded a little of Lugosi's role in The Bowery Boys (The East End Kids) entry, "Spooks Run Wild" but this film is less of a romp than "Spooks".
For a rainy Saturday afternoon of pure theater nostalgia, grab either this one or the serial version ASAP! Tons of fun -- my highest recommendation!"
Bastardized version: Return of Chandu
Edward Rasen Jr. | Maui | 08/16/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Chandu on the Magic Island is a poorly edited, bastardized 65-minute version of chapters 7-12 from Return Of Chandu serial. Some edits are atrocious and there are audio drop-outs and glitches. While this feature film version does include the serial ending, it begins without the storyline for the first six chapters.
I am a Bela fan but, found this bastardized film disappointing, especially with the substandard print used for the Alpha Video release. While, the source print is better than many used for other Alpha releases, it is soft, dark in some scenes, has missing frames, and many hits and glitches. The source print was fair at best, neither bad or good.
If you like Bela then I recommend the VCI Entertainment version for Return Of Chandu. This truncated version is not worth your time or money and Alpha Video is not totally responsible for the disappointment. Even a pristine source print would be less enjoyable than the original cliff-hanger serial.
"15 Frightful Horror Films ... Bela Lugosi ... Passport Vide
J. Lovins | Missouri-USA | 10/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Passport Video presents "The Bela Lugosi Box - 15 Frightful Films" (1942) --- (Dolby digitally remastered) --- Béla Lugosi was the stage name of actor Béla Ferenc Dezs Blaskó (October 20, 1882 - August 16, 1956) --- Lugosi was born in Lugos, Hungary, at the time part of Austria-Hungary (now Lugoj, Romania), the youngest of four children of a baker --- best known for his portrayal of "Dracula" in the American Broadway stage production, and subsequent film, of Bram Stoker's classic vampire story.
Late in his life, he again received star billing in movies when filmmaker Edward D. Wood, Jr., a fan of Lugosi, found him living in obscurity and near-poverty and offered him roles in his films, such as "GLEN OR GLENDA?" (1953) (in which his role made no more sense than the rest of the movie) and as a Dr. Frankenstein-like mad scientist in "BRIDE OF THE MONSTER" (1955), during post-production of the latter, Lugosi entered treatment for his addiction, and the premier of the film was ostensibly intended to help pay for his treatment expenses. The extras on an early DVD release of "PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE" (1959) include an impromptu interview with Lugosi upon his exit from the treatment center, which provide some rare personal insights into the man --- this was one of Lugosi's most infamous roles was released after he was dead. Ed Wood (Director) features footage of Lugosi interspersed with a double --- Wood had taken a few minutes of silent footage of Lugosi, in his Dracula cape, for a planned vampire picture but was unable to find financing for the project --- Wood later conceived of Plan 9, Wood wrote the script to incorporate the Lugosi footage and hired his wife's chiropractor to double for Lugosi in additional shots --- notice however the "double" is thinner than Lugosi, and covers the lower half of his face with his cape in every shot --- Leonard Maltin (Famous Film Critic) was quoted - "Lugosi died during production, and it shows."
Lugosi died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956 while lying in bed in his Los Angeles home. He was 73 --- Bela Lugosi was buried wearing one of the many capes from the Dracula stageplay, as per the request of his son and fifth wife, in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California --- Contrary to popular belief, Lugosi never requested to be buried in his famous cloak; Bela Lugosi, Jr. has confirmed on numerous occasions that he and his mother, Lillian, arrived at their decision independently.
1. Bela Lugosi (aka: Béla Ferenc Dezsõ Blaskó)
Date of birth: 20 October 1882 - Lugos, Austria-Hungary. [now Lugoj, Romania]
Date of death: 16 August 1956 - Los Angeles, California
2. Edward D. Wood Jr. (Director, Writer and Producer)
Date of birth: 10 October 1924 - Poughkeepsie, New York
Date of death: 10 December 1978 - North Hollywood, California
This collection of "The Bela Lugosi Box - 15 Frightful Films" (1942) --- still has the magic that we remember from those bygone years --- but as long as we have the labels and networks who play and show these wonderful films of yesteryear, they will never be forgotten ... Plus the half-hour tribute "100 Years of Horror: Bela Lugosi", hosted by Christopher Lee --- and a great job by Passport Video for this release --- looking forward to more of the same from the '20s and '50s vintage...order your copy now from Amazon or Passport Video, stay tuned once again for more remarkable films from the vaults of classic television and Hollywood during the Golden Era of Entertaiment.
Total Time: 1034 mins on DVD ~ Passport Video #5260 ~ (9/05/2006)"