Saturday, October 25, 2014

Horrors of October - White Zombie (#25)

White Zombie (1932)

A soon-to-wed couple vacationing in Haiti come into contact with a voodoo priest (Bela Lugosi), who wishes to add the pure-white bride to his collection/army of "the living dead". Though more well known nowadays as the inspiration for the name of the 90s metal band fronted by Rob Zombie, WHITE ZOMBIE was the first full-blown horror movie to explore and utilize the concept of a zombie. Here, the undead creature is still associated with its roots in voodoo and supernatural beliefs, acting more as an unexpressive goon/toy for Lugosi instead of the later popular view of a rotting cannibal. For the most part, the movie draws a lot of scares and creeps from its unsettling sights. The best of director Victor Halperin's ideas are the recurring image of Lugosi's intense stare, which certainly makes a grand entrance into the picture, and a ghastly human-like screech from a vulture. Also, since the movie came out before the strict enforcement of the Hays Code, it matches the haunting sets and dark lighting with twisted sexual themes and grim violence. But not everything truly works in this horror classic, such as the severely lackluster main protagonist and the all-around bad acting (excluding Lugosi of course!). It also suffers from moments where you can't exactly figure out what's going on, like when Lugosi just stands there doing his finger thingy in front of his opponents, even though he has no zombies left to throw at them. However, the biggest issue with watching the film was its public domain print, which contained several jump cuts that ruined several important and impressively shot scenes. Still, if you really want to watch the grandfather of the zombie genre and see one of the icons of horror in a different sinister role, look no further than this.


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