6.4/10
7,769
166 user 97 critic

White Zombie (1932)

Passed | | Horror | 4 August 1932 (USA)
A young man turns to a witch doctor to lure the woman he loves away from her fiancé, but instead turns her into a zombie slave.

Director:

Writers:

(story by), (dialogue by)
Reviews

Watch Now

With Prime Video

WATCH NOW
ON DISC

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Certificate: Passed Crime | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A mad scientist seeks to mingle human blood with that of an ape, and resorts to kidnapping women for his experiments.

Director: Robert Florey
Stars: Bela Lugosi, Sidney Fox, Leon Ames
The Black Cat (1934)
Adventure | Crime | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

American honeymooners in Hungary become trapped in the home of a Satan-worshiping priest when the bride is taken there for medical help following a road accident.

Director: Edgar G. Ulmer
Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, David Manners
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An obsessed scientist conducts profane experiments in evolution, eventually establishing himself as the self-styled demigod to a race of mutated, half-human abominations.

Director: Erle C. Kenton
Stars: Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi, Richard Arlen
The Raven (1935)
Crime | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A brilliant surgeon obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe saves the life of a beautiful dancer and goes mad when he can't have her.

Director: Lew Landers
Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lester Matthews
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

The town's leading citizen becomes a homicidal maniac after his wife deserts him.

Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Stars: Bela Lugosi, Polly Ann Young, John McGuire
Drama | Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A Canadian nurse is hired to care for the wife of a sugar plantation owner, who has been acting strangely, on a Caribbean island.

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Frances Dee, Tom Conway, James Ellison
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A ruthless doctor and his young prize student find themselves continually harassed by their murderous supplier of illegal cadavers.

Director: Robert Wise
Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Henry Daniell
Comedy | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Seeking shelter from a storm, five travelers are in for a bizarre and terrifying night when they stumble upon the Femm family estate.

Director: James Whale
Stars: Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton
Certificate: Passed Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

When a nobleman is murdered, a professor of the occult blames vampires; but not all is what it seems.

Director: Tod Browning
Stars: Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela Lugosi
Dracula (1931)
Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The ancient vampire Count Dracula arrives in England and begins to prey upon the virtuous young Mina.

Director: Tod Browning
Stars: Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

When corpses drained of blood begin to show up in a European village, vampirism is suspected to be responsible.

Director: Frank R. Strayer
Stars: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Melvyn Douglas
Adventure | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.2/10 X  

An international expedition is sent into Cambodia to destroy an ancient formula that turns men into zombies.

Director: Victor Halperin
Stars: Dorothy Stone, Dean Jagger, Roy D'Arcy
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
... 'Murder' Legendre
... Madeline Short Parker
... Dr. Bruner
... Charles Beaumont
... Neil Parker
... Silver
... Von Gelder - Zombie (as George Burr MacAnnan)
... Chauvin - Zombie
... Maid
... Ledot - Zombie (as John Printz)
... Pierre - Witch Doctor
Claude Morgan ... Zombie
John Fergusson ... Zombie
... Tall Maid
Edit

Storyline

Young couple Madeleine and Neil are coaxed by acquaintance Monsieur Beaumont to get married on his Haitian plantation. Beaumont's motives are purely selfish as he makes every attempt to convince the beautiful young girl to run away with him. For help Beaumont turns to the devious Legendre, a man who runs his mill by mind controlling people he has turned into zombies. After Beaumont uses Legendre's zombie potion on Madeleine, he is dissatisfied with her emotionless being and wants her to be changed back. Legendre has no intention of doing this and he drugs Beaumont as well to add to his zombie collection. Meanwhile, grieving 'widower' Neil is convinced by a local priest that Madeleine may still be alive and he seeks her out. Written by Gary Jackson <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

With These Zombie Eyes he rendered her powerless - With This Zombie Grip he made her perform his every desire! See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 August 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Im Bann des weissen Zombies  »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$50,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Roan restoration) | (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

According to friends of Bela Lugosi, the actor always regretted that he had taken the role of "Murder" Legendre for only $800 while the film was quite successful at the box office for the Halperin brothers. Speculation on the exact amount the actor was paid generally ranges from $400 to $900 after Lugosi turned down a percentage of the film in favor of a flat salary. An associate of the actor claimed $5000 was deposited into his account. Lugosi became bitter about his decision and always felt underpaid whatever the amount ultimately was. In later years when the subject of the unexpected box office surprise was broached, he would scratch his palm and ask where the money was. See more »

Goofs

Even though the movie is set in Haiti you can see steam coming from the mouths as if it was cold. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Neil Parker: Looks like a burial.
Madeline: In the road?
See more »

Crazy Credits

A huge percentage of this film's credited crew have their names simply listed under the heading "Art and Technical" with no further identification of job. See more »

Connections

Edited into Zombie Evolution (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Cavatina
(uncredited)
Music by Carl Bohm
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
An underrated masterpiece...

One of the most important names in the history of the horror genre is without a doubt, Bela Lugosi, the Hungarian actor who in 1931 became an icon after playing the legendary Count Dracula in Tod Browning's adaptation of the film. Thanks to the powerful presence he gave to the elegant vampire, Lugosi became instantly famous and a major star for Universal Studios. Sadly, due to his heavy accent Lugosi wouldn't have much luck in finding roles for him, and eventually became type-casted as the obvious choice for playing sinister and classy villains in horror films, a problem that would take him from making movies for big studios to acting in low-budget independent films. However, the fact that such movies weren't big productions didn't mean that they were bad films, and this 1932 film is probably the best proof of that, as "White Zombie" is a classic as important as any film done by Universal in those years.

In "White Zombie", Neil Parker (John Harron) and his fianceé Madeline (Madge Bellamy) are traveling to a plantation located in Haiti to celebrate their wedding. Charles Beaumont (Robert Frazer), the owner of the plantation, invited the couple to his house after meeting them on a cruise ship during one of his travels, and not only he offered his plantation for the party, he has also offered Neil a highly profitable job in the island. However, there is a sinister purpose behind Beaumont's apparent good nature and friendly attitude: he is madly in love with Madeleine and plans to separate the couple before the wedding. To do this, he has asked the help of a man named Legendre (Bela Lugosi), a Voodoo sorcerer with the ability to create and control zombie slaves. But the zombie master has his own plans for the trio's souls.

Written by Garnett Weston, "White Zombie" is a very dark and atmospheric tale of horror and suspense partially inspired by the writings of traveler W.B. Seabrook, whose 1929 book, "The Magic Island", introduced Voodoo to American audiences. Of course, Weston's movie is a highly fictionalized account of Voodoo, but it was probably the first movie to introduce zombies to the horror genre. With a story that mixes romance, horror and melodrama, "White Zombie" is essentially a Faustian tragedy with a Voodoo setting, where a man's forbidden desire brings damnation to him and those around him. There is not really a lot of character development through the film, but that actually helps as "White Zombie" is more about the nightmarish experience of the three characters facing Legendre's sinister machinations than about their relationships.

The film's highlight is certainly Victor Halperin's directing, which in its cinematography (by Arthur Martinelli) shows a lot of influence from the German expressionist movement of the 20s and gives the movie an ominous surreal atmosphere. Due to the film's scarce use of dialogs, it would be easy to believe that Halperin wasn't interested in sound technology (new at the time), however, he does give an interesting use to sound in this film by using atmospheric sounds and Xavier Cugat's score to enhance the film's eerie ambiance. It is clear that Halperin was working on a very low-budget (sets were rented from Universal Studios), but his inventive use of camera effects together with Martinelli's beautiful cinematography truly give the film a special nightmarish look similar to Browning's "Dracula" or Dreyer's "Vampyr - Der Traum Des Allan Grey".

The acting is for the most part effective, although several members of the main cast give average performances that tend to diminish the power of the film a bit. John Harron is one of them, delivering a really weak performance as Neil, a shame as his character is essentially the story's protagonist. Robetr Frazer is a bit better as Charles Beaumont, although like Harron, he could had done a better job than the average performance he gave. Still, Madge Bellamy is remarkable as Madeleine, and is specially dreamy after falling under Legendre's spell. Now, if Bellamy is excellent in her role, Bela Lugosi is simply perfect as the macabre zombie master Legendre. Taking what he did in "Dracula" one step beyond, Lugosi appears here in what is probably one of the best performances of his career, literally becoming this embodiment of evil with his strong presence and sinister elegance.

Like the previously mentioned film "Vampyr", Victor Halperin's "White Zombie" seems to be a literal bridge between silent films and the sound era, as it keeps a lot of the silent style of film-making including the highly expressive acting and the expressionist visual design. Together with the movie's extremely slow pace, those elements enhance the whole surrealist vibe that surrounds the movie, making it look almost as the representation of a nightmare. However, this is a double edged sword, as certainly those elements may disappoint those expecting something more graphic and action-packed (it is nothing like the modern zombie films of Romero and Fulci), or at least, something similar to Universal's "Frankenstein"'s series. Don't get me wrong, this is still Gothic horror at its best, but it's definitely on a more serious tone than most Universal films.

"White Zombie" is a difficult film to watch, but certainly one that's very rewarding in the end. Its silent style feels definitely dated, but oddly, this only adds to that surreal atmosphere that Halperin was aiming for when making the film. Sadly, director Victor Halperin would never reach the mastery of this work, as if this was the movie he was destined to make. A very underrated classic of horror, "White Zombie" is another of the films that prove that there was more in Bela Lugosi than "Dracula", and it's a film that can proudly stand next to the Universal classics despite its modest and humble origins. 8/10


5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 166 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed