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Robert S. Clay Jr. | St. Louis, MO., USA | 11/18/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
""King of the Zombies," a poverty row flick from 1941, is pretty low brow, by anybody's standards. The film is a comedy-thriller about zombies, graveyards, hypnotism, voodoo, foreign agents, and espionage. The best two characters are manservant Jefferson "Jeff" Jackson (Mantan Moreland) and kitchen maid Samantha (Marguerite Whitten). From the perspective of contemporary sensibilities, some viewers may have a problem with Moreland's style of ethnic based comedy relief. Taken within the context of the movie, however, Moreland is hilarious, especially in his comic exchanges with the savvy, sassy, sexy, and utterly delighful Samantha. After three men crash on a remote tropical island, mysterious things begin to happen. Their sinister host, Dr. Sangre (Henry Victor) is obviously up to no good with his spooky servants, his mesmerized wife, and the army of zombies he is building through voodoo rituals and strange rites. There's some World War II nonsense about foreign agents threatening the defense plans of the U.S. Navy. The servants all say, "Yes, Master!" to Dr. Sangre. It's enough to make one yearn for Bela Lugosi. The best scenes are between Jeff and Samantha; especially after Jeff is hynotized into believing he is a zombie. The "zombie squad reporting for dinner" segment is laugh-out-loud funny! Jeff and Samantha are great as a comedy team, and they are given adequate screen time. Jeff can be considered the main character by the film's end. He is the catalyst that sets some of the critical plot developments in motion. The rest of the cast is pretty insipid. Ditto for the plot. The action builds to a very dull climax. The movie's low brow humor is its redeeming quality. It's the same type of fun we've had from such various types as the East Side Kids in "Spooks Run Wild" and Abbott and Costello in their encounters with Frankenstein, etc. Adjust your expectations accordingly."
Get Zombified With Laughter!
Jack Burgess | Tampa, Fl USA | 08/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When it comes to Poverty Row horror classics of the 1940s, King
of The Zombies has to rank right at #1, personally that is.
Yet King of The Zombies is not really "horror", it is actually
a comedy with Mantan Moreland as the TRUE STAR of this picture.
The Roan Archive DVD edition of this film is beautifully
restored to crystal clarity. Other DVD versions of this film
I have seen were either too dark or the source material was of
a bad VHS transfer to disc variety. Now, enjoy the film."
Dull vintage horror movie, but Mantan MORLAND is fun
Manfred Zeichmann | Austria | 03/02/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Although I am not a fan of vintage horror films I purchased KING OF THE ZOMBIES because of a very favorable review in a German movie magazine.
The plot has an US secret agent, a pilot and their black servant crashland on a small Caribbean island. It turns out that the island is ruled by a German expatriot, who has kidnapped an American general and uses black magic Voodoo Mumbo Jumbo to get some military secrets out of the unfortunate high ranking officer. Of course the zombies of the title are not the flesh-eating ghouls of today's splatter films, but the living dead of Voodoo magic, will-less slaves of the Nazi, who uses them for his sinister plans. Will our heroes succeed in thwarting the Nazi's evil plan? Well, I do not want to give it away, so watch for yourself...
Despite the unusual storyline involving espionage, a sinister Nazi, Voodoo and zombies, I found KING OF THE ZOMBIES rather dull and talky. (I am aware that fans of vintage horror will have a different view and likely rate it higher than I did.)
Despite the brief running time of a little over an hour it drags in places. However black actor Mantan MORLAND was fun and his many funny lines will make you laugh throughout. While I am usually not into comedy, I found his performance a real joy to behold. Be aware that KING OF THE ZOMBIES shows his age. This is evident not only in the choice of the baddie as a German (owing to the propagandistic needs of the time), but also in a few of MORLAND's jokes, which are of a racial nature (like commenting his appearance, when he looks into a mirror, "the tropics sure gives a man a colour"). Don't watch, if you dislike such jokes. However there is no doubt that MORLAND was a great actor. Were it not for him, this film would have been a complete waste of my time. I also liked actor Victor HENRY, who played the baddie. As usual in these films the heroes are bland and boring.
The DVD is a bare-bones release, with no extras whatsoever. And don't expect picture quality to be as good as of a recent blockbuster movie. This is only natural given the film's age."
MANTAN MAKES THIS FUN MONOGRAM FARCE GO
Tim Janson | Michigan | 12/06/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"During WWII, a Govt, Agent Bill summers (John Archer) is searching for an admiral whose plan went down somewhere in the Caribbean. He's accompanied by the search plane pilot "Mac" (Dick Purcell) and his servant Jeff Jackson(Mantan Moreland).
While searching, their own plane goes down and crashes into a cemetary on an island. They are taken into the residence by Dutch Dr. Sangre who claims to have fled there from the Nazis. He's accompanied by his wife who walks around in a trance-like state.
Not only that, but there's several black zombies skulking about the creepy house that only Jeff ever seems to encounter. It's soon revealed that Dr. Sangre is a nazi conspirator who has the Admiral captured and is using a voodoo priestess to try and get sensitive military info out of him.
Along the way Jeff get's "Zombie-fied" by the doctor in the movie's funniest bit. This film really seemed to be a vehicle for Lugosi in the role of the mad doctor Sangre but Henry Victor does an admirable job.
Mantan steals the show with his one-liners and really brings some life to the film. Purcell is ok as the pilot but Archer is REALLY wooden as the would-be hero.
Yes it is a bit racially stereotyped as Jeff his told that he cannot stay in a guest room and must instead stay with the other black servants. But instead of running it down lets rememeber the era that the film was made in. No one should much feel sorry for Mantan Moreland as he steals virtually every scene he's in.
The film is no gem but has some fairly atmospheric creepiness and better than average Monogram film.
Zombie Film with Humor
Richard A. Augustine | Hobart, IN USA | 03/17/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I thought the movie was entertaining and humorous. It was a typical zombie movie of the era (Caribbean Island with old house,and a sinster character controlling the zombies) with a plus--humor provided by Mantan Morland (he also starred in some Charlie Chan movies)."