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White Zombie
White Zombie
Actors: Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, Joseph Cawthorn, Robert Frazer, John Harron
Director: Victor Halperin
Genres: Horror, Television, Cult Movies
UR     2001     1hr 9min

Bela Lugosi followed up his star-making role in Dracula with this ambitious low-budget horror film from the Halperin brothers, who effectively transplanted the misty gothic mood of the Universal horror films to their pover...  more »

     

Movie Details

Actors: Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, Joseph Cawthorn, Robert Frazer, John Harron
Director: Victor Halperin
Creators: Arthur Martinelli, Harold McLernon, Edward Halperin, Phil Goldstone, Garnett Weston
Genres: Horror, Television, Cult Movies
Sub-Genres: Horror, Television, Horror
Studio: K-Tel Entertainment
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 07/03/2001
Original Release Date: 08/04/1932
Theatrical Release Date: 08/04/1932
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 1hr 9min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

"White Zombie" Never Looked Better
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 08/12/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The DVD release of "White Zombie" does justice to one of the great horror films of the 1930s, not to mention one of Bela Lugosi's finest hours. It looks and sounds terrific. In addition, the supplemental Lugosi interviews are a nice touch. If you never have seen "White Zombie," you're missing one of the most atmospheric and stylish horror films ever made. Transferred from a stunning 35mm print, the Roan Group has done wonders in its restoration of the Lugosi classic."
Yes it is a strange film, isn't it ?
E. Parsons | 06/14/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Between the introduction of sound and the imposition of the Hollywood Code, some of the most inventive movies ever seen were produced and 'White Zombie' is a prime example. On paper, the plot is pretty basic. However it is the ultra-strange premise - zombies roaming around the Haiti countryside working as slaves for a power-mad Bela Lugosi - that makes the film so unique. It doesn't have the polished feel of the classic Universal horrors such as 'The Mummy' or 'Frankenstein' but it lacks nothing in imagination. The movie also benefits from good direction and excellent set designs. A lot of credit must go to the 'Roan Group' for the production of this DVD. We get the obligatory trailer and commentary but the real bonus is the picture quality. You will not find a better print of 'White Zombie' anywhere. Do not make the mistake of thinking 'White Zombie' is a museum piece only of interest to film buffs because of its age. The selling point of this DVD is that above all 'White Zombie' is highly entertaining, so don't just watch it - enjoy it!"
Exquisite presentation.
Birthe Jrgensen | Odense, Denmark | 10/31/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This may sound strange, but as a big Lugosi fan I never thought very highly of "White Zombie"...until now. I now realize why it was never that high on my favorite list of Bela stuff; I couldn't see the damn picture on my other versions clearly enough for all the dirt and darkness. This DVD from the Roan Group is, in one word, superb. It's been cleaned up, and it's like a whole new experience for me to watch it now. (I think it actually looks better than those much more expensive special editions of Hitchcock's "The 39 Steps" and "The Lady vanishes".) Lugosi's performance is good, and it's certainly a nice part for him, but among all his great roles I don't think it's his best. -However, I do appreciate it more now that I can finally see it !. (My fave of his is 1935's "The Raven".) There's a wonderful dream-like quality throughout, and some very atmospheric set-pieces, like the eerie mill. One scene in particular stands out; the conversation between the old man and our completely inept hero. The scene is 5 minutes long, and there isn't a single cut in it which I guess is highly unusual for a horror film, but a brave move. The only problem I have with "W.Z." is the constant use of music. -There's music in nearly every scene, and apparently the film-makers wanted their movie to be somewhat in the style of old silent films, but I feel it would've been even more effective with less. The excellent talk by Gary Don Rhodes is informative about cast & production, just as these commentary tracks are supposed to be. This DVD is the one and only version of "White Zombie" to have."
Reasonable If Not Best Remaster of a Seldom-Seen Horror Clas
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 06/30/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The term "Zombie" and the concepts it conveyed did not really enter American conciousness until the publication of William B. Seabrook's THE MAGIC ISLAND in 1929--but once established, it fired popular imagination, producing everything from a host of pulp fiction shorts to a fairly lethal mixture of rum and tropical juices. Released in 1932, THE WHITE ZOMBIE is generally considered to be the first motion picture on the subject--and it would pretty much set pop culture ideas about zombies, voodoo, and Hati for decades to come.

The film is interesting in several respects, not least of which is the fact that it an independent production, something rare indeed for a film of its era. Unfortunately, this fact also gave rise to a series of legal battles between writer Kenneth S. Webb and producers Edward and Victor Halperin. What with one thing or another the film itself was considered lost from about 1935 until it resurfaced in 1960, when it once more touched off another legal battle between the same parties and their estates. In consequence, and although it has indeed turned up at special screenings and on the late-late show, the film has never really been widely seen since its 1932 debut--and most of the prints available were pretty dire. This was certainly the case when I saw the film in a "big screen" film festival in the late 1970s: the sound was poor, the visuals worse, and it was very difficult to tell what all the fuss was about.

Fortunately for fans of 1930s horror, THE WHITE ZOMBIE is now available in numerous DVD versions--but it is very much a case of "buyer beware," for most of them are extremely dire. Roan Group has released an exceptional restoration of the film; PC Treasures has a reasonable budget release in tandem with the cult classic CARNIVAL OF SOULS. The Timeless Classics edition falls somewhere between the two: the age of the elements show and it isn't a patch on the Roan edition, but its a darn sight better than most.

As for the film itself, even by 1932 standards THE WHITE ZOMBIE was not a "screamer" in the same sense as DRACULA or FRANKENSTEIN were; it is instead lyric, at times poetic in nature, disturbing in the same manner of an Edgar Allen Poe poem. The story is quite simple: Madeline Short (Madge Bellamy) and Neil Parker (John Harron) have come to Hati--and en route have met estate owner Charles Beaumont (Robert Frazer.) Beaumont falls in love with Madeline; unable to convince her to leave Parker, he goes to zombie master 'Murder' Legendre (Bela Lugosi), who works his evil spell upon her. But Beaumont soon finds himself at odds with Legendre, and Parker, with the aid of missionary Dr. Bruner (Joseph Cawthorne) has set out to rescue Madeline at all costs.

The cast is quite fine, and many critics consider that this is really Lugosi's best performance of the early 1930s, surpassing his more famous turn in DRACULA. Indeed, he is a remarkable presence in the film, ugly and sinister and yet at times--it is difficult to describe--one sees the unexpectedly attractiveness of the man in both physical and psychological terms. It is a memorable performance. But the big thing about THE WHITE ZOMBIE isn't so much the story or the performances as "how the thing is done."

The cinematography is simple, but it has a misty quality, and one is always aware of the texture of black and white; shadows are important in the film, and the overall look is quite unlike anything to come out of Hollywood up to that point--and even today it remains largely unique. There is an elegance to the way the scenes are staged and photographed that rarely occurs in any film of any era.

Modern viewers without significant interest in films of this period are likely to find THE WHITE ZOMBIE mannered and a bit slow--but if you have an interest in early sound films, and even more so in horror films of the 1930s, THE WHITE ZOMBIE is an essential in your collection.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer"