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White Zombie More at IMDbPro »

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White Zombie (1932)

Author: Shavonna Croley from United States
20 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Okay so this film...definitely was bizarre. It had an interesting out look on what zombies are and what they could do. I honestly expecting the main characters running from crazy blood-thirsty zombies but this definitely wasn't the case. I found it odd that the villain of the film had zombies working for him. The weird hand gesture through me off and it annoyed me a little. How can one control an ample amount of people with one movement? But than again look at government ha. But on a serious note, it was different to see scenes have double layers with it was time for a new. The amount of light on the characters seemed a bit extreme. I say this because in some parts I couldn't see the details in their faces which made it difficult to tell what they were feeling in that moment. I thought the acting was horrible...sorry. The man with the bushy eyebrows and the weird facial hair freaked me out. His long stares too, I think it will be forever in my head at night...I'm going to need a night light.

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Good old horror fun.

Author: punishmentpark from Netherlands
16 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm not sure if Bela Lugosi used the gesture with both hands (the 'zombie grip' as can be seen on the poster) in other films as well, but I immediately recognized it from Tim Burton's 'Ed Wood', where Martin Landau imitated Lugosi wonderfully. To stay with the latter, his performance is also wonderful here, though I didn't really experience it as véry creepy^. And that pretty much goes for the whole film, with that silly last line ("Excuse me, have you got a match?") to underline that.

Still, there is a lot to be enjoyed: wonderful black and white shots of castle rooms, Haiti by night and the castle itself on the rocks by the sea, appropriately creepy characters (though, again, they are hardly scary) and a zombie story which unfolds quite nicely. There were quite a few parts with a little too much uninteresting dialogue, but some scenes, like when Neil sits in a bar and sees the ghost of his beloved Madeline everywhere, are simply spot on.

Yes, a good time was had by all - I mean me - though it's not a perfect classic in my book. A good 7 out of 10.

^ And yes, there áre horror oldies that do still pull off being truly creepy for me, for instance the unparalleled, ten years older 'Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens'.

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Not a Masterpiece But a Solid B Movie

Author: Nancy_Grease from Canada
16 July 2014

Victor Halperin's White Zombie; once considered a lost film, has gained a following over the years with many considering it to be on par with those Universal monster classics made about the time of it's production. Many of the sets, props and costumes for White Zombie were in fact from the Universal lots where this was filmed. But in my estimation, White Zombie falls short of the mark when compared to films like Frankenstein, Dracula or The Mummy. Despite being the first 'zombie' film there's nothing fresh about the concept or presentation. The acting is particularly stale. Bela Lugosi plays the villainous Legendre who uses voodoo to enslave those around him. Halperin followed this up with a loose sequel; Revolt of the Zombies.

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Elegant evil...

Author: poe426 from USA
14 March 2014

WHITE ZOMBIE opens with a rousing title sequence unlike anything you're likely to see in a 1932 feature film: music and singing underscore title letters as they are emblazoned across the screen. Cut to a carriage trundling along a Haitian road 'round midnight. On board are a couple, Neil and his fiancé Madeline, en route to the opulent home of a newfound friend, the wealthy (but ultimately mysterious) Beaumont. They come to a crossroads where a burial is taking place. From the surrounding darkness appears Murder Legendre (Bela Lugosi), leading a group of zombies "who work in the sugar mill." Legendre snatches a scarf from the unsuspecting Madeline for later use. After putting the couple up for the night, Beaumont is chauffeured to the sugar mill by a zombie; there, he sees a zombie topple into a grinder and get ground to bits without so much as a pause by his fellow "workers." Beaumont wants Madeline for himself. "The cost is heavy," warns Legendre- but things are set in motion anyway, at Beaumont's behest, and he tries to woo the "white zombie," the now helpless Madeline. Will Neil manage to save his fiancé, or will Legendre get away with his own nefarious plans...? There are a number of noteworthy things about WHITE ZOMBIE. For one thing, it's Lugosi's best performance ever; for another, it's a visually innovative film: the opening title sequence is great, and there are a number of visual effects (including "page turning" and superimposed shots one atop another that are unique to this film), including an interesting sequence where Neil and Madeline seem to psychically communicate with one another. The movie is always interesting, for one reason or another, and it boasts some excellent camera-work. Outstanding filmmaking.

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"Excuse me - have you got a match?"

Author: bakers4 from United States
9 March 2014

This one is a pure delight, in particular for uniquely grown up audience tastes in vintage horror - a genre that has more often staked its appeal on content appealing to less mature sensibilities. As a youngster I was always enthralled by the Lon Chaney and FRANKENSTEIN tradition - where sensational masterpieces of creative monster makeup are the real stars. As a child I wasn't enamored of WHITE ZOMBIE because it just doesn't follow that formula, perhaps foreshadowing the 1940's Val Lewton approach to horror film. But having gotten a little older, watching through adult eyes - once a fan of horror films, always one - I have to give this film highest marks for so many compelling aspects, all working together like clockwork.

There's a gritty depth of darkness on one hand, that really delivers. Lugosi is in top form, with one of his creepiest characterizations ever. When he's made his voodoo doll and zombified our doe-eyed ingenue (what perfect casting) - its like he's just had some sick psychosexual climax. A unique moment of sheer evil, brilliantly played. The mental breakdown of the grief-stricken groom is really something. And When he discovers his 'deceased' bride's tomb empty, her remains missing, his scream of anguished desperation is gut-wrenching in sound. Likewise, the scene with our zombified beauty at the piano playing Liszt, as Mr Beaumont helplessly tries to court her - consumed with guilt and horror at what he's had done to her, in his obsession and desire - is a chill of horrifying beauty. The entire film offers a tapestry of such little perfect stitches, all working together to great effect.

And on the flip side, WHITE ZOMBIE also has a certain warmth and subtle humor that enhances the horrifying impact by delightfully understated comic relief. The main element here is Dr Bruner, our 'Dr Van Helsing' character, who lends expert aid and assistance to the groom beset - by expertly advising, sorting fact from fiction about zombies, and what to do. He affects a socially awkward, amiably bumbling characterization, uniquely entertaining and witty. Asked by our young engaged couple (unnerved after a scary encounter on the road), if he believes in zombies, his character is indelibly established by his comically equivocal reply: "Oh, no! Uh, well - I don't know!" Almost Monty Python-like (Is it true you dressed her as a witch? "NO, NO, no - uh, yes, yes. A bit."

The film's protagonists (our young couple, and the dubious Mr Beaumont) stand as 'ordinary people' - across from a dynamic opposition of concentrated good and evil, in the characters of Bruner, and Lugosi's evil sorcerer. There's a depth of story and themes here, along with all the basic elements - great casting, acting, cinematography, narrative style etc - that makes WHITE ZOMBIE a film to love, more and more with each viewing.

I also have to admire some intelligently educated 'myth busting' story appeal - e.g. Bruner finding clues to what's going on in Haitian law (referencing 'use of drugs that cause lethargic coma, or lifeless sleep'). The obscurity of the line between supernatural and natural masquerading as such (a la some SCOOBY DO caper) is among the intriguing aspects in this film, ahead of its time too (a la "Serpent and the Rainbow"). Again, this is sophisticated stuff for a horror film, and a treat for Lugosi fans - among his best performances.

Having seen pics from this film in monster magazines as a child (e.g. 'Chauvin' the zombified former executioner, etc) - no way could I have foreseen what an impression WHITE ZOMBIE would make on me years later - on my 'inner horror-film-fan child.' Two thumbs up for this one, and a resounding recommendation for discriminating viewers. Fittingly, this film has quite a cauldron of mixed ingredients that work together, casting quite a spell. One to fall under with pleasure.

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zombie wife

Author: kai ringler from United States
26 January 2014

A recently married couple while vacationing stop and accept a rich man's offer to stay in his luxury mansion. Little do they know that he is up to no good.. He takes a fancy to the man's wife, and tries to convince her that she should be with him instead. After this doesn't work, he enlists the help of a "madman" played by Bela Lugosi, he turns her into a Zombie. Well after awhile the rich guy doesn't like her appearance and wants her changed back to the way she was immediately, well our madman is going to have none of that, he wants to keep her the way she is so he can keep her a zombie along with countless others that he has turned into zombies. very interesting "b" movie , not bad at all , I would watch it again,, this was made shortly after Dracula..

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Truly a chilling film, elegantly slow and delightfully sinister.

Author: mark.waltz from United States
16 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Now I know where Eddie Munster got his widow's peak; He must have watched this as a toddler and decided to emulate his Uncle Dracula who remained behind in Transylvania while Grandpa, Herman and Lily moved to America. Actually, Bela Lugosi isn't Dracula here, but he might as well be. He's a voodoo master who has taken his enemies lives over, turned them into zombies and made them his slaves. When he is contacted by a man who is coveting somebody else's wife, Lugosi simply turns her (Madge Bellamy) into one of the living dead by waving her scarf over an open flame. She keels over, is buried and given one of the most somber funerals ever on screen. Soon, the body is dug up, and Bellamy (looking very much like a silent movie heroine even though this is a talkie!) sits quietly as the hero desperately tries to get over her apparent death, discovering the truth almost too late.

A spooky vulture follows Lugosi wherever he goes, and the faces of these dead zombies will instill themselves in your memory as their sinister close-ups continue with truly creepy music. Somber photography as well as slow editing and pacing make this seem like something that the Germans had done with "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" and "Noserferatu" while Universal's Gothic thrillers definitely had their own unique style. There's something to be said for the independent studios. While obviously made on a lower budget than those at Universal, this is almost even more memorable because of the artistic triumph that the film's creative team didn't even realize they had done. The ending is one of the most chilling in history and may leave you with nightmares!

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Creaky But Freaky

Author: LeonLouisRicci from United States
15 November 2013

This one is Ripe with History. For Years it was a lost Film and its Reputation was based on Fuzzy Memories and Nostalgia. When the Movie was Rediscovered in the 1960's its was Unfortunately a Damaged and Decaying Print. So there were many Disappointed Horror Movie Fans that met the Chance to finally View it and then were almost Speechless in Their Let Down.

But some more Invested Audience Members were not so Quick to Shout Out its Dated Tenants and Bad Image Quality. They Saw beneath the Physical Aging of the Celluloid and Placed a more Contextual Forgiving.

The Movie has been Restored and Released by the Roan Group on Blu-Ray and although there still Remains some Lacking in the Source Material it is at the Very Least Presentable and Quite Acceptable. So Beware Watching any other Public Domain Cheapies and for Honest Results make an Effort to get the Best.

The Film has many Remarkable Flourishes for an Independent, Extremely Low-Budget Effort and is Imaginative, Artsy, and Effectively Creepy even Today. Its Expressionism is Welcome and there is Enough Voodoo and Zombies that make this an Undeniable Classic. It is the First Zombie Movie, it Stars Cult Favorite Bela Lugosi and although somewhat Creaky it is Freaky.

An Artifact of its Time to be Sure and its Lack of Money is Glaring, the Film is Nonetheless a Satisfying and Possibly an Exhilarating Experience for the Willing. When Dissected there is more here than Meets those Free-Floating Eyes.

The Metal Band "White Zombie" (Rob Zombie's first Band) so honored the Movie.

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Not really sure what to make of this movie,

Author: atinder from United Kingdom
28 September 2013

I started my Halloween Challenge on 21st of September 2013, Instead of doing normal 31 on days, I decided to do 40 days instead, I trying to clean out as many movies as I can never stop growing watch list.

and last night on Day 6 I saw the movie White Zombie (1932)

This was my first watch, I heard decent comment about it.

Well, I am not to sure what to make of this movie, it's very odd movie, I did not find creepy or scary at all.

I could not get into this movie at all, those eyes starting scenes may be creepy back then but I could not help but burst out laughing.

I found most of the movie really funny,

Not sure what to rate it the moment, I just give 5 out of 10 for now

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They are not men, Monsieur. They are dead bodies.

Author: Ben Larson from Leesburg, FL
2 October 2012

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first film where zombies were mentioned.

Madge Bellamy is the object of desire, not only from her new husband (Neil), but the wealthy plantation owner, and, oh, no, the head of the zombies! She is doomed, I say doomed! Bela Lugosi is 'Murder' Legendre, the zombie head who desires the beautiful woman and uses his evil to get her. With his evil eyes and bushy unibrow, he makes a formidable monster.

But, Neil wins the day with the help of Dr. Bruner, and he and Madge live happily ever after.

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