Between 1941 and 1944, Bela Lugosi starred in a series of low-budget films released by Monogram Pictures. To many viewers at the time and during the decades that followed, the “Monogram Nine” were overacted and underproduced, illogical and incoherent. But their increasing age has recast such condemnations into appropriate praise: in the 21st century, they seem so different not only from modern cinema, but also from Classical Hollywood, enough so as to make the aforementioned deficits into advantages. The entries in the Monogram Nine are bizarre and strange, populated by crazy, larger-than-life characters who exist in wacky, alternative worlds. In nine films, the improbable chases the impossible. This book, in turn, chases them.
“Gary Rhodes has become my favorite nonfiction author, while the subject of some of his writings, Bela Lugosi, has long been one of my favorite actors. Now Gary has teamed up with co-author Robert Guffey to present, for the first time, a collection of in-depth and insightful essays evaluating those lesser ‘classics’ that comprise the so-called ‘Monogram Nine.’ If you are a Lugosi fan and also a fan of old ‘B’ horror films, you will love this book.”
– Donald F. Glut, filmmaker, Marvel Comics writer, and author of The Empire Strikes Back novelization
“An extraordinary volume. Rhodes and Guffey refract these films through the lens of surrealism, detailed genre study, auteurist-informed close readings, star studies, and vigorous historicism to name a few of the kaleidoscope of methods employed. This book provides a breakthrough model for serious work on films that have to date received very little scholarly attention.”
– Michael Lee, Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma), editor at the journal Horror Studies
"BELA LUGOSI AND THE MONOGRAM NINE, by Gary Rhodes and Robert Guffey, critically and wonderfully examines a series of no-budget films made by no-budget Monogram Studios in the 1940s featuring Lugosi that are among the most wonderfully odd cinematic follies ever made--surrealistic, straight from the subconscious, sometimes stupid, at moments seeming to spring from the mind of Bunuel, and in the next, an idea Ed Wood would have discarded as too unbelievable. But, movies always unlike any others, and at their best seeming like fever dreams through which Lugosi calmly walks in evening clothes carrying a flaming blowtorch. I highly recommend this book."
--JACK WOMACK, author of RANDOM ACTS OF SENSELESS VIOLENCE, LET'S PUT THE FUTURE BEHIND US, and ELVISSEY
Review by James L. Neibaur