Cultpix Radio Ep.55 - Bela Lugosi 140 Years Old (Still Undead)
Manage episode 346330714 series 2909958
Django and Nudo are joined by Kitty Lash at Castle Cultpix to reminisce about the greatest screen Dracula of all time, Bela Lugosi. It all started in Lyon, where Django and Smut where attending the MIFC convention, where they met the Hungarian Film Institute, who promised them the oldest known silent film footage of Bela Lugosi on the day he would have turned 140.
We start off with a clip from "The Phantom Creeps" (1939), the 12-part cinema serial where Bela plays a mad inventor planning on releasing an army of robots to rule the world - “It can make me the most powerful man in the world.”
In this interview Bela talks about being born in Hungary but now being an American, as well as how playing Dracula depresses him. He had to leave post-war Hungary for starting an actors' union and remained politically active, but also an American patriot. Here he is encouraging people to donate blood during World War Two. Yet because of his accent he not only played Central European bloodsuckers but also Nazi's, for example in "Black Dragons" (1941), a quickie thriller in the style of "The Manchurian Candidate".
He did win recognition as "one of the finest actors to come out of Europe," in this 1951 interview, where he talks about being typecast and the kind of roles he had back in Hungary. He also gave this very candid interview after he was in rehab in 1955 to deal with opioid and alcohol addiction. Yet his son Bela George Lugosi Jr has spoken about addiction being “the biggest misconception about his father” and a “focus on negative aspects” of his life.
Part of the reason for this is Tim Burton's film "Ed Wood" (1994), which imagines how Ed Wood first met Bela Lugosi. Johnny Depp's Ed Wood is in awe of Bela, though he himself feels he is a has-been. “Now, no one gives two fucks for Bela.” Marin Landau discusses the process of becoming Bela, a role that won him an Oscar, and his admiration for him. “In junk movies he was BRILLIANT."
Bela did get to play comedy in one of our favourite films, “Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla” (1951), with nightclub comedians Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo in roles approximating Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
We end up with a mashup of the classic punk-goth song “Bela Lugosi's Dead”, both the original Bauhaus version and the Nouvelle Vague version.
We also have our longest ever Spotify playlist (6h23m), with more cover versions than you can shake a wooden stake at, but also many other tracks about or name checking Bela Lugosi.