The following is my review of White Zombie with Bela Lugosi. This film was the first ever of it’s kind to introduce us to the topic of Zombie’s…and the perfect vehicle for it’s lead actor following his success as Dracula the previous year…
Starring: Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, Joseph Cawthorn
Directed by: Victor Halperin
Ratings: Internet Movie Data Base; 6.5/10 …Rotten Tomatoes; 89%
Our rating; 8/10
White Zombie (1932). A young couple are on their way to be married at the home of a wealthy plantation owner in Haiti. Their host (Monsieur Beaumont), who has invited them along, has some sinister plans for the bride-to-be however and enlists the help of zombie master, “Murder Legendre” (Bela Lugosi) to make the woman all his own.
Yet Murder has some plans of his own for Monsieur Beaumont and his new mistress.
It’s up to the girl’s unfortunate fiancé with the aid of a kind and learned priest to hasten to her rescue at the cliff-side castle of the fiendish “Murder”. Once there they must confront the evil and cunning ruler of zombies and his collection of zombie slaves.
While the picture and sound quality are fairly poor, the sets, scenes and scenery, dialogue and music all add up to make this movie immensely interesting and atmospheric.
A lot of the scenes will stay with you long after you’ve watched it.
The burial in the road for example. Our first introduction to “Zombies” and the way the coach driver declares their approach. The mindless goings on at the sugar mill. Lugosi’s discourse on the slaves who were once his enemies. And, of coarse, the entire ordeal at the castle.
A much welcomed side to this movie is it’s music. An element which was not yet used anywhere near it’s potential to that point. It’s also nice to notice how it is created for the movie and not merely borrowed from somewhere else. It really ends up fitting with and illustrating the emotion of some of the scenes.
Themes of Voodoo are creatively used through the movie and the whole plot taking place in Haiti (“land of the voodoo”), rightly adds to it’s atmosphere.
A fantastic original and imaginative film that makes the absolute most of it’s small budget. The subject material was completely new for moviegoers then and it’s not only Lugosi but also his freakish zombie crew which are highly memorable.
…While not gaining a hugely favourable critical response at the time of release, this highly underrated piece has gone on to become something of a cult classic!
Any thoughts on this review of White Zombie with Bela Lugosi? Please go ahead and post your comments in the space below. Thanks for reading. ∼ Jamie