6.3/10
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181 user 97 critic

White Zombie (1932)

Passed | | Horror | 4 August 1932 (USA)
Trailer
1:42 | Trailer
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:

Victor Halperin

Writers:

Garnett Weston (story by), Garnett Weston (dialogue by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Bela Lugosi ... 'Murder' Legendre
Madge Bellamy ... Madeline Short Parker
Joseph Cawthorn ... Dr. Bruner
Robert Frazer ... Charles Beaumont
John Harron ... Neil Parker
Brandon Hurst ... Silver
George Burr MacAnnan ... Von Gelder - Zombie
Frederick Peters ... Chauvin - Zombie
Annette Stone ... Maid
John T. Prince ... Ledot - Zombie (as John Printz)
Dan Crimmins ... Pierre - Witch Doctor
Claude Morgan Claude Morgan ... Zombie
John Fergusson John Fergusson ... Zombie
Velma Gresham ... Tall Maid
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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:

She was not dead... not alive. See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film did a lot of shooting on rented space at Unversal Pictures and sets, props, and furniture from such classics as The Cat and the Canary (1927) , Frankenstein (1931) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) can be spotted by astute film fans.. 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?
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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 »

Alternate Versions

The scene is which the zombie is crushed by the grinder, after falling into the chute in the factory, is missing from most available prints. See more »

Connections

Followed by Revolt of the Zombies (1936) See more »

Soundtracks

Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride)
(uncredited)
from "Lohengrin"
Music by Richard Wagner (1850)
Played on an organ for the wedding
See more »

User Reviews

A lost classic that has finally been found.
4 October 2001 | by reptilicusSee all my reviews

WHITE ZOMBIE is one of those rare early talkies where everything fits just right. Rumours have circulated for years that Bela Lugosi himself actually directed part, if not all, of the movie. Having seen all of the movies made by the Halperin Brothers in the 30's this is deffinitely the best, but DID Bela direct it? There is a quality in this film lacking from all other Halperin films. In many scenes the technique seems to have been borrowed from German silent films and Bela did work with Edgar Ulmer in Germany early in his career. Also notice that WHITE ZOMBIE is essentially a silent film with key scenes performed with a minimum of dialogue . . .or none at all; a standout moment is when Legendre (Bela Lugosi) traps the soul of Madeline (Madge Bellamy) by carving, and then melting, a wax image in her likeness. All without a single word being said. Another key sequence is a montage of scenes set against the haunting spiritual "Listen To The Lambs" performed by an offscreen chorus. Notice also the scene where Neil (John Harron, brother of former silent film star Robert Harron) and Dr. Bruner (Joseph Cawthorn) are talking. The camera starts out behind Harron's back and moves out. It moves in a circle around the room while the men talk and finally goes back behind Harron to end the scene; deffinitely an Expressionist Germanic touch! Granted the film has its flaws, Joseph Cawthorn's character is supposed to be to be a Christian missionary but he has a noticably Yiddish accent. Also for a film that is set in Haiti there is an uncomfortable lack of black characters. Clarence Muse as the coach driver is the only one in the movie! Two other alleged native Haitians are white actors in blackface! Madge Bellamy's bee-stung lips and eye makeup also belong back in a silent film. Weighed against the film as a whole however, these inadequacies are slight. The cast is quite good. Robert Fraser met up with Lionel Atwill in THE VAMPIRE BAT (1934). Clarence Muse met up with Bela again in THE INVISIBLE GHOST (1944). One of the zombies is played by George Burr McAnnan who had played the puritannical leader of the farm community that ostracises unwed mother Lillian Gish in WAY DOWN EAST (1920). Also look for Brandon Hurst as a creepy looking butler. He had played the evil Jehan Frollo opposite Lon Chaney's Quasimodo in THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1923). By all means see this movie! It is well worth your time. So did Bela direct it? Alas we may never know. Then again, in an interview given in the early 1970's Clarence Muse said he clearly recalled Bela directing a few scenes. So maybe . . .


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 August 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

White Zombie See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Roan restoration) | (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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