White Zombie (1932)
Directed by: Victor Halperin. Written by: Garnett Weston.
Plot: Young woman (Madge Bellamy) is turned into a zombie by a creepy plantation owner with a cool beard (Bela Lugosi). Her fiance (John Harron) must rescue her.
Review: This is one of the earliest zombie movies, and probably one of the best, definitely in the non-ghoul subgenre (the zombies are hypnotized and do the bidding of their evil master rather than being undead flesh-eaters), I was honestly surprised at how good it was considering how little I knew about it. Usually with a movie like this you hear all kinds of stuff about how amazing it is (and then it’s usually kind of disappointing), but I had heard very little about this. Basically all I knew about it was that it starred Lugosi and Rob Zombie’s band was named after it, but other than that, you know, nothing.
Admittedly, it is a little slow in spots, but that’s sort of the style of the time and it makes up for it with really good cinematography which makes you wonder why anyone would want to shoot anything in colour. Very atmospheric, very moody. Very nice.
Some of the acting (Madge Bellamy) was less than good, but she’s a zombie for most of the movie so that works. Although, she acts like a zombie the rest of the time so it’s kind of hard to tell what the fuck happened.
But other than that, the movie kicks spooky ass the whole way through. ((Note: this is another review I started one day and finished several days later - sorry for any loss of direction…)) Lugosi rocks the beard (yes, it qualifies as a bweird, but it is cool) and is mega creepy.
It’s nice and clean and old fashioned which is a good thing. Guy turns chickie into a zombie but he doesn’t, you know, interfere. It’s all wholesome.
And yet there are one or two extremely disturbing scenes. One scene in which one of the zombies working at Lugosi’s mill (or whatever) falls into the grinding machine and is, presumably, turned into hamburger (mmmm). Later, one of the other zombies - a scary looking dude called Chauvin (Frederick Peters) - is advancing towards the hero. The hero shoots him at least once in the chest, we see the bullet wounds and the zombie keeps advancing, until I think he falls off a cliff.
Not that bad by today’s standards obviously, but I remember watching I think Public Enemy around the same time as this and Mr. Blue and I were discussing afterwards and neither of us could remember any shot of actual bullet wounds. It just seemed odd. It was whacked. Very neat-o.
This is a majorly awesome movie.
Favourite Part: There’s this really weird scene where Legendre (Lugosi) is turning this other guy (Robert Frazer?) into a zombie and asking him questions about the process. It’s really creepy and you get this impression that Legendre is, you know, totally fucked.
Other versions: None.
Click here to read my original review (May 18th, 2008)
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