Sunday, May 18, 2008

White Zombie

White Zombie (1932)

Directed by: Victor Halperin
Written by: Garnett Weston
Starring: Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, Robert Frazer, John Harron, Joseph Cawthorn, Brandon Hurst, Frederick Peters

Known as 'the first zombie film', although I'd venture to suggest that The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari is sort of a 'zombie' film, to use the term very generally. Not that it really matters.

Structurally very similar to Dracula - a young woman is bewitched and turned into a zombie by a creepy older man. Her finacé must then rescue her with the help of the Van Helsing character.

Lugosi does the same kind of stuff too - staring at the camera and generally acting creepy and menacing.

The print I watched was pretty crappy (I think there may have been a 'restored' version of this film, but this isn't it - mind you, it only cost about three bucks), and the sound and picture kept jumping, however, the movie was actually pretty good.

Some of the scenes were, admittedly, kind of boring. One shot of the actors standing around talking lasted for about ten minutes, but other bits were really well done - there's one scene at the mill where a zombie falls into this grinding machine, freaked me out; another scene where a bunch of people just walk off a cliff.

There are a couple of long scenes with no dialogue whatsoever which sort of reminded me that the use of sound in a movie was still a relatively new idea at the time and most filmmakers were used the silent format.

The cinematography was really good, all full of black and white goodness. The pace was a little slow, although it didn't really bother me that much. A lot of the acting wasn't great either, but again, I was okay with it.

And a few of the actors playing zombies were really awesome, really freaky looking. There's this one dude, Chauvin. Woah. Towards the end of the movie, he gets shot and keeps on coming, but they actually show the bullet hole in his chest which struck Mr. Blue and I as really unusual for the time.

Anyway, I thought it was really well done and they could probably do a really nifty remake some day. Maybe. Actually, you know what, fuck remakes. Leave shit alone.


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