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White Zombie More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

New Classic Kino Version for 2013!

Author: morgie55 from United States
19 February 2013

I picked up "White Zombie" from Kino Classics since they boasted a newly cleaned version from the original negatives. Bela Lugosi, fresh from his hits "Dracula" and "Murder at the Rue Morgue" amongst others, he puts a fresh face on the then-new class of mystery films.

Madeline is about to be married to her fiancé Neil. She met this guy on a boat who turns out to be a rich fella who happens to own a spooky castle in the Mountains of Haiti, a land filled with zombies and such. This guy Beaumont falls for her and does not want her to go through with the marriage. He gets the help of a zombie master, Legendre, who has other plans. He already has an army of zombies working the sugar plantation. Why not a cute girl who wears veils? Why not indeed! The story is slow-paced, but is filled with the occasional shocker. The zombies in this film are not of the "Romero" clan, but are actually living people, who through hypnosis and drugs, find themselves under the thrall of Legendre. Legendre's motives are not that clear, except perhaps he just likes to play games and wants to create horror just because he can.

I also enjoyed the character of Dr. Bruner, played well by Joseph Cawthorn. He plays the wise man to the naïve fiancé, Neil, who is grieving over the death of his new wife. Except, as the good doctor expounds, "she's not dead!" The sugar plantation plant with the zombies in tow, the clear sounds and clearly contrasted black & white, make a great film. The only real complaint is that vulture: quite a screech! DVD: The DVD has an interesting interview with Lugosi at his house, which is scripted and makes for some fun yet insight into Lugosi at the height of his career. There is a gallery of colored movie lobby cards and the usual language and chapter features. I especially enjoyed comparing the "Raw" version to the cleaned-up version of the film.

Bottom Line: Great horror for the time, has some corny moments, but overall a great product by Kino Classics. Definitely recommended, especially for the Lugosi fan.

Cast Bela Lugosi - 'Murder' Legendre Madge Bellamy - Madeline Short Parker Joseph Cawthorn - Dr. Bruner Robert Frazer - Charles Beaumont John Harron - Neil Parker

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12 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Better than you would expect it to be.....

Author: gazzo-2 from United States
31 October 2004

....not exactly a lost masterpiece, but more than worthy of viewing.

I agree w/ some of the others here--it's basically a silent movie w/ added dialogue here and there-check out the wild over-acting on the part of the Zombies(lurch around w/ bug eyes etc), Bela(just a bit) and the two lead guys the lover and the obsessive. They're basically '20's actors held over from what I saw, overly mannered etc.

I enjoyed the china doll look of the blonde, thought that the wipes/dissolves/matte shots were innovative for 1932, and agree that the tone is indeed quite effective and eerie. All those shots of the hillside graveyard w/ the zombies lurching along its top are nicely done.

What was w/ having just the one black actor and then a couple more in blackface? I don't get it. It's not like you can't tell....

Bela is fine here--a few too many 2" closeups but not a bad performance, as always he can project the evil as few ever could. I liked the zombies-as-mill-workers part, that certainly stands out.

Overall, if you are a Bela fan or like '30's horror flix, do check it out. It's slowish and dated as hell, but you won't be let down if you keep it's era/genre in mind as you watch.

*** outta ****

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13 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Angels of death creep and groan.

Author: Michael O'Keefe from Muskogee OK
24 August 2004

This is a horror classic. A wealthy traveler(Robert Frazer)is smitten by a lovely young woman(Madge Bellamy)on a cruise ship and invites her and her fianc(John Harron)to hold their nuptials at his plantation home on the island of Haiti. Harron is promised a high paying job to insure a visit. Frazer's darkest intentions are to lure Bellamy away from her fianc; and enters an alliance with an island zombie master(Bela Lugosi) to win the possession of the young woman...alive or dead. Bellamy suddenly falls ill and dies only to be resurrected as...yes, a zombie...and Frazer's love slave. A strange and bizarre finale determines the captivating, but mesmerized beauty's fate. Incredible otherworldly atmosphere and the eerie, haunting Lugosi insures a high quality black and white thriller.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

I love the old Universal horror films, but this is a lesser one

Author: secondtake from United States
20 July 2015

White Zombie (1932)

This is the perfect example of the direction of Bela Lugosi's career after "Dracula" the year before. The sets, the creaky acting, and even the plot (with zombies) is all canned horror stuff. What made "Dracula" work was partly that it was first, and that the story is so classic. Here we have a more routine series of events with some familiar necessities—the innocent woman becoming a zombie, the innocent man trying to find a way out of the mess, and Lugosi and the knowing and powerful man behind all the evil. They even drink suspicious looking fluids from goblets—though it's not blood this time.

And frankly the production values are even lower than for "Dracula," despite a year going by. What does still work well is the mood, and the gloom, and the dark drama. That's the best of it, and that's steady all through.

One great aspect here is the setting—Haiti. At least in some scenes. So there are primitive drums and weird rural customs alongside impossibly large Gothic interiors (straight from the Dracula mode). I can't say I liked the movie, but I enjoyed parts of it, and liked comparing it to other Universal efforts from this important period for that studio. Lugo himself is always a trip, too, and so enjoy that, too.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Not Your Grandchildren's Zombies

Author: Cd1083 from New York
9 May 2015

I took the time before watching White Zombie to read enough about the film to understand that this was not a film I was going to recognize. It's not George A. Romero, nor is it Sam Raimi. White Zombie is something else all together and I can't say that I enjoyed it even with that expectation.

My general rule of thumb is that the shorter a film, the less leeway I give it in terms of excitement. If a film is going to run at less than an hour and a half, it needs to be efficient with it's time, while a longer film is allowed to create more suspense and setup and run parallel story lines at the same time in order to fill up the time. When a film barely surpasses the hour mark, it better do something to keep my attention. White Zombie did not.

There is certainly going to be those viewers who enjoy this film for the pure reason that it's a 'cult classic.' It's not well acted, it's not presented visually in even an adequate manner and overall the plot is dull as dirt. The medium in which the film was presented may certainly play a factor in my enjoyment as a bright lit Sunday afternoon may not do the film justice, but even with that in consideration the ebb and flow of the film presented a difficult pill to swallow…and stay away through.

Where the film does receive some credit from me is with Bela Lugosi's casting. He is the lone bright spot in this film and provides some sliver of hope that I'll find more to enjoy with this film with repeat viewings. The dark setting and low contrast makes it difficult to appreciate much of the subtle I'm sure this film offers that I was unable to pickup on the first couple go around.

I really wanted to enjoy White Zombie for the simple reason that there is obviously something to it. Legendary filmmakers have been drawn to it and it's been credited as being the granddaddy of zombie films even though it has very little to do with what we think of in our zombie genre. The rules of the modern zombie world simply don't exist here and that makes it difficult for anybody without the appropriate context to appreciate what it has to offer.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Great At Times. Sleep Worth At Others.

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
25 March 2015

White Zombie (1932)

*** (out of 4)

Young couple Neil (John Harron) and Madeleine (Madge Bellamy) meet a man on a cruise who offers them his mansion to get married in. As soon as they arrive they realize things really aren't normal due to some zombie like people walking around. They eventually meet the man turning these people into zombies, Legendre (Bela Lugosi) who plans on turning the woman.

WHITE ZOMBIE is a film that horror fans usually end up in a heated debate about. Some people love every second of the film while others have a hard time reaching the end credits because they fall asleep. To me this film could easily be called an incredibly flawed masterpiece and I think it proves that you don't have to be a great director to create something special. I say this because director Victor Halperin has created some incredibly great moments here but when you take a look at his other films like SUPERNATURAL, REVOLT OF THE ZOMBIES and TORTURE SHIP, there's none of the "talent" on display that you see here. In fact, I think it would be very fair to say that WHITE ZOMBIE is good simply by luck.

What I love about the film is its creepy and rather surreal atmosphere. Right from the opening shot you can just feel the darkness of the area and there's no question that you really do feel as if you're in this location and it's a place you'd want to get out of as quick as possible. There are some terrific moments scattered throughout this film but I think one could argue that the opening sequence right up to when we first see Lugosi, is among the best moments in any horror film from this period. There are other great moments including the drum beat that is used throughout the picture and there are some beautiful matte shots of the castle, which are quite haunting.

Another great thing going for the film is the performance of Lugosi. Who knows where the truth and the myth goes but after not getting the monster role in FRANKENSTEIN you have to wonder why Lugosi wanted to do such a low-budget film. Again, there are countless theories out there but this role certainly isn't the "sexy" role that Dracula was. Lugosi is quite evil here and he manages to do it without every going over-the-top but instead he stays pretty calm and collective throughout. He's given a terrific look and there's no question that the actor knows how to use his eyes to display coldness. The supporting players really aren't all that memorable but each of them are good enough for what they're asked to do.

There are many flaws to be found in WHITE ZOMBIE. The film moves at a snail's pace and while this might help the atmosphere, after a while the movie really begins to drag. In fact, I've seen this movie countless times and I always feel like I've accomplished something great when I can make it through in one sitting without falling asleep. Another flaw can be. It's hard to bash the direction for some at times silly looking stuff when you're at the same time praising him for the atmosphere he brings to the picture. WHITE ZOMBIE really is a hard film to judge but it remains an important part of horror history and there are enough strengths to make it worth viewing.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Bored- To Death!

Author: john-hogan23 from Albany, New York
25 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In 1932 the American people were introduced to the Zombie, a simple reanimated corpse that would go on to become the most famous and popular monster across all of film, television, and video games. A monster so ingrained in pop culture that they even have their own specific apocalypse. A monster so horrifying that the governor of Kansas has actually declared October to be "zombie preparedness month." So if you're like me, you've wondered how the zombie had grown to claim its crown as the king of monsters. Was it because of a simple concept? Probably. Was it because of a plausible premise? No. Did it have a groundbreaking and excellent foray into film? Absolutely not.

White Zombie is the 1932 film debut of the Zombie. Knowing this, you would probably expect a lot from the film. If this is true for you, you will be disappointed. In reality White Zombie is a low budget, grainy, crackling mess of a film that was shot over the course of 11 days on used sets with recycled props. The star of the film is the disgustingly low quality of both the video and audio. It looks and sounds like it was made in the early 20's, and it is just incredibly hard to get over that. The overall quality of the film is done no favors by a cast of dangerously cheesy actors, all of whom seem to be about as enthusiastic about the film as the viewer. Add all of this together and its 69 minute run time will feel like an absolute eternity. It actually took me three attempts to finish this film, all of which ended in a nap so immense that my 69 minute investment would twist and deform into a mass of terrible boredom powerful enough to consume the entirety of my afternoons.

There was only really one thing I enjoyed in the film, and that was its portrayal of the zombies themselves. Instead of the necrophagous, non-sentient sack of decay that we've become accustomed to we're presented with a semi-conscious, lumbering mind- slave sort of creature, conjured to do the bidding of some type of necromancer. I loved this. I thought it was a great concept and much better than the modern zombie. Its just too bad the rest of the film was trash.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Very Eerie, Spooky, Surreal & Dream like Fairy tale

Author: gullwing592003 from United States
2 December 2010

This is one of the few 1930's horror movies that still scary & frightening & chilling even today. White Zombie tries from the first moments to make your hair stand up even the opening credits over the burial scene in the road is unsettling, disturbingly unusual for a film in 1932. The "White" flashes on the screen horizontally & "Zombie" is flashed on the screen one letter at a time shooting upwards on the screen against the pounding pulsating native drumbeat. And then the chanting ritual begins. Bela Lugosi's presence is first evident when his hypnotic eyes are superimposed gigantically over the scene of the young couple played by John Harron & Madge Bellamy riding in a stagecoach witnessing a Haitian burial in the road to prevent it from being unearthed & turned into a Zombie.

Bela Lugosi looks devilish & diabolical & just radiates with charismatic evil. A voodoo zombie master & plantation owner Murder Legendre & his "special" zombie servants are also a sight for sore eyes. Talkies were still very new in the early '30's & unlike the big budget Universal horror films of that time like "Dracula", "Frankenstein", "The Mummy", "Invisible Man", etc. White Zombie was more innovative & experimental in the way that it combines elements of silent film style acting, an imposing musical soundtrack score, minimal dialog, Germanic expressionism & striking visuals & artwork. The Universal horror classics also had a dreamlike surreal & Gothic romanticism but not as extreme as "White Zombie".

"White Zombie" is in a class by itself, an independent film directed & produced by Victor & Edward Halperin. The film looks very experimental & fresh & intentional or not the experiment works & makes "White Zombie" stand out & memorable. It's a low budget film that looks & resembles a major quality film, I read that the Halperin brothers used some of the sets from Universal's "Dracula" such as Lugosi's castle.

"White Zombie" is arguably just as good as "Dracula" with Bela Lugosi in top form in both films giving magnificent performances. Joseph Cawthorn as the old missionary is almost as good as Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing. I've lost count how many times I've seen this film as "White Zombie" is right up there with all the classic Universal horror films of the '30's. It's the definitive horror film that introduced "Zombies the living dead, corpses taken from their graves & made to work in the sugar mill" & that reminds me, the sugar mill plantation scene showing the zombies working long hours & all that is heard is the loud roaring & grinding crushing oars, it is an unforgettable scene & it's filmmaking at it's finest.

This film did reasonably well at the box office in 1932 & it's success inspired other "Zombie" movies even though most of them were not as good. But Zombies didn't make another significant impact again until George A. Romero brought "Night Of The Living Dead" to the screen in 1968 & it was also made on a shoestring budget with unknown actors that stayed "unknown". But White Zombie had a major stage & film star Bela Lugosi & he really shines in this one. After "Dracula" he did "Murders In The Rue Morgue" & the end of the movie after Lugosi & Robert Frazier fall off the cliff & the young couple are reunited Madeline says to Neil "I dreamed", this film ends like a fairy tale. And they lived happily ever after.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Lugosi at his best!

Author: sfstendebach from United States
31 October 2010

This IS my favorite Bela Lugosi movie. I Personally think it is even better that Dracula.

Bela Stars as a mad witch doctor who creates an army of zombies. When a young couple comes to his village, a wealthy citizen pays Lugosi to make the girl fall in love with him. What Lugosi does is add her to his army. There is an awesome chase scene at the end.

Without a doubt Lugosi makes this film. It is the way he stares at the camera, or the way he moves his hands. It is very haunting. The only reason someone would not like this film is that the pace is a little slow. Fans of modern horror films may find it a tad boring, but it is truly one of my all time favorites.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

This movie holds up.

Author: jtownsend01 from Richmond, Virginia
4 March 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you don't mind the technical limits of a movie from 1932, "White Zombie" is a great way to spend an hour and six minutes. I watched it for free on IMDb. While the 4:3 aspect ratio and the overacting that was so prevalent in the early movie days (all the actors were exclusively stage trained) were a little distracting, I could easily put them out of my mind or even appreciate their quaintness. Bela Lugosi is exceptional! With his slow, steady movements and those gazing, hypnotic eyes, he was made for movies. Anyone with an interest in film history should watch White Zombie. Think of all the zombie movies that have followed and how few of them live up to it, regardless of their big budget Hollywood bells, whistles and breasts. I was also impressed by the simplicity of the plot. Today's zombies are the result of some government lab test or virus gone wrong. White Zombie's incentives for reanimation are simple: lust and greed. I enjoyed White Zombie and I think you will too.

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