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On the Franco-Austrian Frontier during WW I, an oriental priest, chaplain of a French colonial regiment, is condemned to life imprisonment because he possesses the power of turning men into zombies. As the priest,in his prison cell, is preparing to burn the parchment containing the location of the secret formula, Colonel Mazovia kills the priest and takes the partially-burned parchment. Fade to after the war to an expedition of representatives from all the Allied countries (only those with colonial interests it appears) being sent to Cambodia to find and destroy forever the Secret of the Zombies. The group includes Colonel Mazovia (somewhat akin to sending the fox to guard the hen house); a student of dead languages, Armand Louque; Englishman Clifford Grayson; and General Duval and his daughter Claire. Armand falls in love with Claire, who accepts his proposal of marriage in order to spite Clifford whom she really loves. Later, when Claire, following an accident, runs to Cliff for ... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
This film is something like a sequel of "White Zombie", since it is made by the same man (Halperin) and features zombies. Halperin, the George A. Romero of his day, fails to deliver with this one, though.
We have a man who can control the minds of people in Cambodia, and a search to destroy the source of his power so the zombies can be sent free. Also, a love interest for the evil man.
Where this film really excels is in the imagery. The Cambodian temples and dancers are very nice and the zombie look very powerful in their large numbers. Unfortunately, we don't really get to see much of the zombies in action and the love story seems to play a much too large role for a horror film (though this has a valid plot reason later on).
I would have loved to see some 1930s zombies attack helpless city folk, but this film just did not deliver. And no strong villain (like Bela Lugosi) was waiting to do battle against our heroes. And the use of Lugosi's eyes? A nice effect, but misleading as he is never in the film... why not recreate this with the new actor's eyes? Overall, a film that could be a great one with a little script re-working and could someday be a powerful remake (especially if they keep it in the same post-war time frame). Heck, if they can fix up "The Hills Have Eyes" then this film has hope.
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