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Category Archives: Movie Reviews 1930s

From the DVD case: Devil’s Island escapee Paul Lavond (Lionel Barrymore) poses as a shop proprietress and uses secrets of miniaturization to turn humans into elusive minions who inflict revenge on all who sent him to prison. Tod Browning (Freaks) directs. Maureen O’Sullivan co-stars.

Mark says: The Devil-Doll begins with a ludicrous premise: Paul Levond escapes prison after 17 years vowing to get revenge on the three former partners who framed him. Lavond’s fellow escapee, Marcel, is a scientist who leads Levond to his laboratory. Marcel and his wife, Malita, have been working on an experiment to shrink living creatures. Marcel’s wants to shrink every creature in the world as a way to combat overpopulation. Marcel believes if he can shrink everything down to 1/6 its size, the world will have six times the food on which to live. The drawback is that the shrunken subjects (only dogs, so far) lose their own wills and have to be guided by mind control, effectively turning them into slaves. While Marcel is attempting to miniaturize his servant, Lachna (Grace Ford), he falls ill and dies. However, the experiment is a success and Malita vows to carry on her husband’s work. Malita begs Levond to assist her in this venture. Levond realizes he can use Malita and her miniature people in his plot for revenge, and moves the operation to Paris, where his former partners are still enjoying their wealthy lifestyles. Because Lavond is a wanted man, he takes on the guise of “Madame Mandilip,” an elderly woman and kindly doll shop owner.

Despite this preposterous setup, The Devil-Doll is an enjoyable and capable film. Tod Browning (Dracula, Freaks) proves a competent director, and the cast is formidable. Lionel Barrymore (Mark of the Vampire) is superb in the duel roles of Paul Lavond and Madame Mandilip. I had the pleasure of seeing this movie without the foreknowledge of Lionel Barrymore’s cross-dressing scenes. I was completely taken off guard when he appeared in a wig, earrings, and frock,  speaking in a timbre similar to that of Aunt Bea’s from The Andy Griffith Show. Admittedly, this has a comedic effect, and proves somewhat distracting at first. I mean, here’s the great Lionel Barrymore, crotchety Mr. Potter from It’s A Wonderful Life, shuffling about in a shawl and chapeau. However, and this is a testament to Barrymore’s acting, as the movie progresses, his scenes as “Madame Mandilip” become less and less of an issue. Barrymore makes a surprisingly believable old woman, and before long, we are drawn back into the story. Of course, there are still moments when his appearance elicits a chuckle. These moments usually occur when Barrymore is in full or partial drag but speaks in the decidedly masculine voice of Paul Lavond.

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Herny Hull as the Werewolf of LondonFrom the video case: Botonist Wilfred Glendon (Henry Hull) travels to Tibet in search of a rare flower, the “Marifasa Lupina,” which blooms only in moonlight. Despite warnings that the region is dangerous, Glendon continues his quest until finally locating the exotic flower, but not before he has to defend himself from an attack by a howling monster.

Back in London, Glendon is visited by the enigmatic Dr. Yogami (Warner Oland), who tells him a current rash of murders is the work of two werewolves. Yogami also claims that the only antidote is the blooming Marifasa flower, which keeps the werewolves from harming the ones they love. Glendon scoffs at Yogami’s stories, until the next full moon! (1935, b&w)

Mark says: Universal’s Werewolf of London has gotten a bad rap for a couple of reasons. For viewers of the time, it was too similar to 1931’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde starring Fredric March. For modern fans, it is inevitably compared to the superior The Wolf Man with Lon Chaney, Jr. Either way, Werewolf of London, Hollywood’s first werewolf flick, isn’t getting the individualized attention it deserves. I’m not saying this is a great movie, or that it should even be included with Universal’s other monster classics, but it does have some interesting facets.

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The Monster Walks

From the DVD case: People in an old dark house on a stormy night are menaced by a killer ape. (1932, b&w)

Mark says: If I had to describe The Monster Walks in one word, it would be cliché. The events of the film take place during a dark and stormy night in an eerie mansion. The rich master has died suspiciously and the family is gathered for the reading of the will. The house is full of unsavory characters, including an old, invalid uncle, and two creepy house servants. There’s also a fearsome ape locked in the basement, which has a renowned hatred for the deceased’s daughter.

In addition to all of this, the mansion is full of hidden passages and paintings that move so eyes can peer through. Of course, the young daughter inherits everything. If she should die, all the money goes to the repugnant old uncle. Any of this sound familiar? I had a feeling it would.

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The Vampire Bat

From the DVD case: Thousands of monstrous bats fill the night sky of a terrified village, while residents are murdered in their beds, drained of all their blood. As the killings increase, rumors of a vampire in their midst send the townspeople into a frenzy of panic, as even the most respected scientist of the community seems convinced by the evidence. Only one investigator refuses to believe the superstitious tales and argues that a maniac must be at the root of the killings. A mob gathers to hunt down the suspected vampire and drive a stake through his heart, yet the exorcism fails to end the horrific slayings. (1933,b&w)

Mark says: This film starts off as a detective mystery, turns into a vampire story, and ultimately ends up as a piece of science fiction. It’s certainly not a horror classic, but it is fine low budget entertainment. Filmed on borrowed sets of Universal horror films (e.g. The Old, Dark House), it boasts a strong cast of Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, and Dwight Frye.

Poor Dwight Frye (Frankenstein, Dracula) is once again cast as the town loony. His love for bats (he carries them around in his coat and pets them) makes him a prime suspect when the murders begin.

Fay Wray plays the beautiful love interest, Ruth Bertin. This is not a juicy role for her, but her presence onscreen certainly helps the picture. However, it is not a role that will make you forget her as the heroine of King Kong.

Lionel Atwill is the deliciously evil Dr. Otto von Niemann, and Melvyn Douglas plays the skeptical detective, Karl Brettschneider.

The major flaw of this film is the ending, which is disappointing, to say the least. The movie holds together fairly well until Dr. Otto von Niemann’s plot becomes clear. After that, the picture loses so much credibility that you are hardly concerned with the outcome.

Another thing about horror films of this time, is that directors often include some character for comedy relief. In The Vampire Bat, the comedic relief comes in the form of Maude Eburn, as the hypochondriac aunt, Gussie Schnappmann. It’s as if the filmmakers of that era thought the horror was so great that the audience would need some type of tension release to survive the film. Generally, I find this type of characterization, at best, distracting, and at worst, detrimental to the overall atmosphere of the film.

This movie would have rated higher with me if the ending had been stronger. It’s an enjoyable film, but I wouldn’t buy it unless I found it in a bargain bin.

Directed by Frank Strayer.

Special Note: The film transfer on the dvd I own (Alpha Video) is uneven and very dark in places. The sound quality certainly could use some improvement, too.

Scene to watch for: Dwight Frye climbs a lamp post to snatch a bat from its perch. Meanwhile, a mob of townspeople are hiding, just yards away, watching the spectacle as if they can’t be seen.

Line to listen for: “Vampires are at large, I tell you! Vampires!”

Bonus: Watch The Vampire Bat free at the Internet Archive.

Mark’s Rating: ! ! ½ out of 5.

IMDB Link

Frankenstein

From the DVD case: Boris Karloff stars as the screen’s most memorable monster in what many consider to be the greatest horror film ever made. Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) dares to tamper with life and death by creating a human monster (Karloff) out of lifeless body parts. It’s director James Whale’s adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel blended with Karloff’s compassionate portrayal of a creature groping for identity that makes Frankenstein a masterpiece not only of the genre, but for all time. (1931, b&w)

Mark says: This is it, the granddaddy of all monster films. I can’t remember the first time I saw Frankenstein, but I do know it left an indelible mark on me, as it has for countless others.

Director James Whale (Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man) not only gave us a great monster flick, but he gave us a work of art, too. Each time I watch Frankenstein I’m in awe of the sets and the direction. That opening scene at the graveyard has to be one of my favorite opening shots of any horror film.

Colin Clive does a fantastic job as Dr. Henry Frankenstein, a scientist obsessed with his work, and mad with the idea of creating life. Dwight Frye (Dracula, The Vampire Bat) plays the lunatic hunchback, Fritz (I’ll forgive you if you call him Igor, though.) He hobbles around, shimmies up poles, mutters and gives us what has become the archetypal mad scientist’s assistant.

And let’s not forget Mae Clarke as Henry’s fiancée, Elizabeth. She’s graceful, devoted, prophetic, and everything else a man or monster could ask for. Edward Van Sloan plays Henry’s former professor, Dr. Waldman. He is not as powerful in this role as he was as Dr. Van Helsing in Dracula, but he works well as the voice of reason.

Two characters that I find slightly annoying are John Boles as Henry’s friend, Victor Moritz (some friend, he hits on Elizabeth every chance he gets) and Henry’s father, played by Frederick Kerr. Kerr’s character, huffing and growling, is especially abrasive, and obviously used for comedy relief. These two are only minor annoyances and do not significantly disrupt the film.

Of course, it is that big, beautiful monster played by Boris Karloff that makes this movie so wonderful. I was genuinely frightened of Frankenstein’s monster as a kid (I’m told that kids today are not fazed by Karloff’s portrayal), but what was more amazing, was that I felt empathy for this brute.

Here’s this poor creature, slapped together and dragged into the world of the living by no request of his own, tormented endlessly by a wretched little bully, hounded by mobs, and then rejected by his own creator. Maybe that wasn’t exactly my story, but it certainly felt like it at times.

The scene with Little Maria (Marilyn Harris) is particularly heart-wrenching. The monster finally finds an oasis in this hostile world, and then ends up killing her. Talk about King Midas in reverse.

Speaking of Marilyn Harris, she does an excellent job at playing dead. The scene where her father carries her to the burgomeister is decidedly macabre.

There’s nothing I’m going to say about this film that hasn’t been said a thousand times already. I just want it on the record that it means a lot to me, too.

I don’t think anyone will be surprised with my rating.

Scene to watch for: The manner in which Henry Frankenstein lands on that windmill blade doesn’t look too healthy.

Line to listen for: “The neck’s broken. The brain is useless. We must find another brain!”

Note: I recommend the Frankenstein Legacy Collection from Universal to those of you interested in this film.

Supplemental viewing: The 1998 film, Gods and Monsters starring Ian McKellen, explores the latter days of director James Whale.

Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! ! ! out of 5.

IMDB Link

From the DVD case: Although there have been numerous screen versions of Bram Stoker’s classic tale, none is more enduring than the 1931 original. The ominous portrayal of Could Dracula by Bela Lugosi, combined with horror specialist director Tod Browning, help to create the film’s eerie mood. Dracula remains a masterpiece not only of the genre, but for all time. (1931, b&w)

Mark says: The audience that viewed Dracula for the first time in 1931 had some advantages going in that we don’t have the privilege of today. First, they were not yet numb to onscreen blood and violence, and therefore could appreciate the subtlety of the film.

Less importantly, they did not have the foreknowledge of Lugosi’s later films. It is difficult to watch Dracula without thinking of Mr. Lugosi in the roles that would eventually diminish his stature as a serious actor. Dracula isn’t quite so frightening when you’re thinking of him as Dr. Eric Vornoff from Ed Wood’s Bride of the Monster.

But don’t get me wrong, Dracula is a great film. I love the fantastic sets, especially the Transylvania scenes and the shots of Carfax Abbey. The story also remains intriguing even after all these years. The acting seems stagy by today’s standards, but it lends to the ancient atmosphere.

Of interest is the lack of music in Dracula. At some points you perceive an unsettling silence. If you purchase the Dracula Legacy Collection you can listen to the movie with a score composed by Phillip Glass.While the music is beautiful (performed by the Kronos Quartet) it has a tendency to overpower the film.I actually prefer the original score (or lack of score) over the Phillip Glass treatment.

Dwight Fry (Frankenstein, The Vampire Bat) is wonderfully entertaining as Renfield. It’s not easy to forget Renfield’s laugh after hearing it. Mr. Fry portrayed a lunatic so well that he would be typecast as a madman for the remainder of his career.

Edward Van Sloan (Frankenstein, The Mummy) is powerful and wise as Prof. Abraham Van Helsing. I much prefer this 1931 version of Van Helsing over the newer, “hip” version portrayed in Stephen Sommers movie Van Helsing. Of course, I prefer watching reruns of Scooby-Doo over the Stephen Sommers’s film.

Helen Chandler and Frances Dade play Mina Seward and Lucy Weston, respectively. No complaints here, except that some of Mina’s scenes with Jonathan Harker (David Manners) seem awkward, overly-dramatic and at times, comical.

Of course, this is Bela Lugosi’s picture, and he does bring an exotic element to the story. When people do imitations of Dracula, you are far more likely to hear a Lugosi inflection in the voice than a Christopher Lee. Lugosi’s Dracula is certainly the most iconic.

Lugosi can be genuinely eerie, especially when he arrives as the coachman to pick up Renfield at the Borgo Pass. Other times, he is less effective. When Dracula speaks to Dr. Seward (Herbert Bunston) in the balcony, the doctor seems to tower over the Count. Lugosi looks almost ridiculous in comparison.

My least favorite character in the film is Martin the orderly (Charles K. Gerrard)who is used for comedy relief. He might be appropriate for an Abbott and Costello picture, but he is extremely distracting here.

Overall, this is a wonderfully entertaining and atmospheric film, and it gets extra points for its historical significance.

Dracula is directed by Tod Browning (Freaks, Mark of the Vampire).

Scene to watch for: Dracula’s castle seems to have an armadillo problem.

Line to listen for: “Isn’t this a strange conversation, for people who aren’t crazy?”

Special Note: I highly recommend Universal’s Dracula The Legacy Collection.

Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! ! ½ out of 5.

IMDB Link

From the video case: King Kong teems with memorable moments: a movie-making expedition on a fantastic isle filled with dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures; the giant simian’s lovestruck obsession with the film shoot’s blond starlet (Fay Wray); Kong’s capture; his Manhattan rampage; and the fateful finale atop the Empire State Building where Kong cradles his palm-sized beloved and swats at machine-gunning airplanes. “It was beauty killed the beast.” But in these and other great scenes, Kong lives forever. (1933, b&w)

Mark says: For King Kong fans, it is hard to talk about the 1933 original without sounding overly extravagant in our praise. However, this picture is such a ground-breaker, and done so well, that it absolutely deserves the gushing acclamation that is often heaped upon it.

The star of the picture is an 18-inch (or sometimes, 24-inch) puppet, spectacularly animated by stop-motion master Willis O’Brien (The Lost World, The Black Scorpion).Not only does O’Brien bring Kong to life, but he gives the great ape character and pathos. We get caught up in Kong’s plight, and it is not too surprising to find that many of us, upon first viewing, had an emotional reaction to Kong’s tragic fate. I’ll admit that today’s CGI effects can be impressive, but not once have they made me cry.

Of course, Kong’s animation does have its imperfections.The most noticeable is that his fur sometimes moves in an unnatural manner. This was caused by O’Brien’s handling of the puppet.As O’Brien moved Kong one tiny motion at a time, his fingers would leave slight impressions on the fur. This wasn’t apparent during the stop-motion process, but when the footage was assembled as animation, the fur’s motion sometimes looked awkward.Early viewers attributed the strange motion to wind, but modern devotees know better.Still, this imperfection is not overly distracting, and is certainly forgivable considering the movie was released in 1933 and O’Brien was a pioneering talent in the field.

I like what Ray Harryhausen (who directly credits King Kong as his own inspiration for entering a career in stop-motion animation) says concerning the aesthetic charm of Kong.Harryhausen states in the 2005 DVD commentary of the film that Kong’s look is not so real that it compromises the fantasy element of the movie.Even today, nearly 75 years later, Kong is utterly fascinating to watch. A pretty neat trick.

The heroine of the film is Ann Darrow, played beautifully by one of the earliest scream queens, Fay Wray (Doctor X, Mystery of the Wax Museum).Fay keeps the film interesting while we’re waiting for Kong’s arrival. She is so enchanting in the role that we have no problem believing Kong’s fascination with her.

Robert Armstrong (Mighty Joe Young) plays film producer, Carl Denham. Denham is a reckless adventurer who will risk anything to bring back a quality film. I used to think that Armstrong’s portrayal was a little too over-the-top, but after watching a documentary on Merian C. Cooper, who Denham’s character is based on,I now believe Armstrong’s characterization is not far off the mark. Merian C. Cooper is the real life producer, co-writer, and director of King Kong.The documentary of his life is included with the 2005 DVD Special Edition, and is well worth a look. A truly incredible man.

Bruce Cabot is Jack Driscoll, Fay Wray’s love interest. Cabot’s character is based on co-director, Ernest B. Schoedsack. Unfortunately, I find Cabot’s portrayal lacking. A more convincing actor in this role would have improved on an already great film.

Also look for Frank Reicher (House of Frankenstein, The Mummy’s Ghost) in the role of Capt. Englehorn.

Although the acting and dialog can seem dated, it also lends to a documentary feel. I think one of Peter Jackson’s wisest decisions regarding his remake was keeping it a period piece. Kong existing outside of that time period (as Dino De Laurentiis’ 1976 version attests to) just doesn’t seem right.

King Kong also features some fantastic original music by Max Steiner, and breakthrough sound effects by Murray Spivack.

Entire books have been written on this film, and so my little review does not give it or its creators justice.But take my word on this: King Kong is a deeply satisfying movie.It is not only a wonderful film for its genre, but it is a great accomplishment in cinematic history, period.

Scene to watch for: Kong, realizing the woman he has pulled from her bed is not Fay Wray, drops her to her death.

Line to listen for: “Oh no, it wasn’t the airplanes. It was beauty killed the beast.”

Trivia: Directors Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack pilot the plane that sends Kong to his demise.

Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! ! ! out of 5.

IMDB Link

Doctor X Fay Wray

From the video case: When the moon is full, murder stalks the streets in this classic chiller directed by Michael Curtiz (Casablanca). An investigative reporter traces the trail of corpses to the suspicious Dr. Xavier and his medical college, where grisly experiments are being performed. In a tiny laboratory at the college, a one-armed scientist teetering on the brink of madness researches cannibalism and the creation of limbs from synthetic flesh. The result is a man-monster on the prowl for human flesh to use in the scientist’s increasingly bizarre experiments. (1932, color)

Mark says: Doctor X is not the most significant horror/mystery to come out of the 1930s, but it does possess enough interesting facets to make it worth your time.

The most notable feature is the use of the two-strip Techinicolor system. (The Technicolor we came to know was a three-strip system, allowing for a much broader spectrum.) Producers enlisted the talents of Natalie Kalmus to create an incredibly effective muted color scheme, which lends to the mysterious atmosphere of the picture.

Reinforcing the creepy ambiance are the fantastic sets of Anton Grot. It would be hard to over-estimate how much Grot’s elaborate, moody sets add to the distinct flavor of the film. These sets coupled with the color scheme make for some fascinating visuals.

Speaking of fascinating visuals, I would be remiss not to mention make-up artist, Max Factor, for creating a particularly grotesque, “synthetic flesh” monster. Even by today’s standards, I find the creature repulsive.

Doctor X stars Lionel Atwill (Man Made Monster, Mark of the Vampire) and Fay Wray (King Kong, The Vampire Bat) as Dr. Jerry Xavier and his daughter, Joanne Xavier. Both give convincing performances and Fay Wray throws in a few trademark screams to give the picture extra chills.

On the down side, the film’s hero, Lee Tracy (as Daily World Reporter, Lee Taylor), is so clownish that we are constantly distracted by his antics. It wouldn’t be so bad if he wise-cracked now and then, but in every scene he goes for the laugh, which makes him an extremely grating character. (I am often told I suffer from the same characteristic.) A running gag throughout the film is Lee’s use of a simple hand-buzzer. Sometimes he uses it as a practical joke, and sometimes he forgets he’s wearing the thing and shocks someone unintentionally. A real laugh riot, to be sure, but it gets old surprisingly quickly (like after the first time).

The doctors at Xavier’s medical academy are somewhat cartoonish. One of them is a one-armed man (Dr. Wells), another wears an eye monocle (Dr. Rowitz), yet another is confined to a wheelchair (Dr. Duke), and all of them are suspiciously bizarre. The academy even houses a dark and peculiar butler (played by George Rosener). Everyone at the academy is a suspect in the “Moon Killer” murders, including Dr. Xavier himself.

The plot, while full of holes, is entertaining in a comic book sort of way. The theme of cannibalism gives the movie an uneasy edge, which must have been more unnerving in 1932. However, I don’t want to elaborate any more on the story as not to spoil the mystery (the video box description already gives away too much.)

Though Doctor X is disappointing on some levels, its overall eerie feel and strong performances by Fay Wray and Lionel Atwill make it a worthwhile morsel for B film enthusiasts.

Based on a play by Howard W. Comstock and Allen C. Miller.

Directed by Michael Curtiz (Mystery of the Wax Museum).

Scene to watch for: In an uncharacteristically bright setting for the film, Fay Wray and Lee Tracy take time off from their gloomy surroundings to sunbathe.

Line to listen for: “Professor Duke, don’t criticize Joanne for her state of undress.”

Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! out of 5.

IMDB Link

White Zombie

From the DVD case: This genuinely eerie thriller is the ultimate zombie movie. Sinister Lugosi is the master of hordes of walking dead who work a sugar plantation in Haiti. (1932, b&w)

Mark says: If for nothing else, White Zombie deserves your attention for being the first zombie film ever produced (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari doesn’t count; Cesare was a “somnambulist”).

White Zombie was independently produced by two minor silent film makers, Edward and Victor Halperin, with Victor Halperin (Revolt of the Zombies) actually directing the picture.

The Halperins were not fans of “talkies,”and wanted to create a film reminiscent of the silent movies of the previous decade. Using a script by Garnett Weston, the brothers produced a horror movie which relies heavily on strong Expressionistic visuals and stylized acting. The dialog is minimal.

Because of these elements, White Zombie seems older than it actually is, but the overall result is quite effective. If you can get past the dated feel of the film, White Zombie is an eerie bit of work. Much credit is due to the cinematography of Arthur Martinelli, who keeps us captivated visually even during segments where the story lags.

The DVD description featured above does not describe the film’s plot adequately. So let me elaborate further:

White Zombie castRobert Frazer (The Vampire Bat) plays Charles Beaumont, a wealthy traveler who finds himself enamored by the charms of pretty Miss Madeleine Short (Madge Bellamy). Unfortunately, for Mr. Beaumont, Madeleine is already engaged to Neil Parker (John Harron). In a devious plot, Mr. Beaumont offers Madeleine and Neil the use of his plantation on Haiti as a location for their nuptials. To sweeten the deal, Mr. Beaumont makes Neil a lucrative job offer. The couple immediately accepts the generous proposal.

However, Beaumont’s true intention is to lure Madeleine away from Neil. When he can’t accomplish this through smooth talk, he turns to evil zombie master, Murder Legendre (what a great name!) played by horror icon, Bela Lugosi (Dracula, The Devil Bat). Legendre has already incorporated many of the islanders (most of them his enemies) into his zombie brigade of sugar mill workers. He is all too happy to help Beaumont obtain his human prize.

Without me giving too much away, Beaumont finds that a zombie lover is not much fun. He also discovers that Legendre has his own desires regarding Madeleine and is not above using his hypnotic zombie skills to acquire the object of his affections. Beaumont is certainly an unscrupulous fellow, but he is a saint compared to the evil madness of Legendre.

The acting, for the most part, is poor to adequate. Harron’s portrayal of Neil Parker is especially embarrassing to watch. Of all the performances, his seems the most dated. Frazer’s performance is not much better, but he redeems himself during scenes where he suffers an excruciating transformation into one of the living dead.

White Zombie BellamyMadge Bellamy as Madeleine isn’t given a lot to do. She does make for a pretty love interest (in a China doll sort of way) but is less convincing as a zombie. Still, her features are unusual enough to captivate us, and her acting does not distract us from the dreamlike quality of the picture. Madeleine is the “white zombie” to which the film title refers.

But Lugosi is the real star of this movie. Sometimes I am overly harsh in regards to Bela’s performances, but he really shines in this role. He seems to relish his lines, and his delivery is more subtle and sinister than in his later works. Of course, this was still the early 1930s, and he had yet to be beaten down by the long string of terrible roles he would later subject himself to.

Speaking of terrible film roles, Ed Wood would later have Lugosi reprise his zombie-calling, hand-clutching-hand maneuvers in Bride of the Monster. (Also, White Zombie is the film Lugosi and Wood are watching in Tim Burton’s psuedo-biography, Ed Wood.)White Zombie hand trick

If some of the sets look familiar, that’s because many were borrowed from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), King of Kings (1927), Frankenstein (1931), and Dracula (1931). Universal’s own Jack Pierce served as make-up artist. This all adds to the great appearance and mood of the film.

Long time readers know my pet peeve regarding comedy relief roles in atmospheric horror films. I am overjoyed to report that White Zombie does not feature any such distraction.

Scene to watch for: Legendre (Lugosi) casually carves away at a wax figure as Beaumont (Frazer) agonizingly slips further and further into the zombie state.

Line to listen for: “They are not men, monsieur. They are dead bodies!”

Wikipedia entry: White Zombie

Bonus: Watch White Zombie for free at the Internet Archive.

Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! ½ out of 5.

IMDB Link

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