The first Zombie movie and what an opening entry.
Of course this is before the gut devouring shambling zombies, but traditional haitian zombies and one I feel we need to see more of. If ever I was to make a zombie movie it would be voodoo zombies, though even in this film they call them the living dead. So the story follows a couple in Haiti who are about to be wed, but their host for the wedding is smitten by the bride and enlists the help of the zombie lord, played outstandingly by Bela Lugosi, leading the husband and a local preacher to try to break the hypnosis and rescue the girl. For a film made in 1932 it actually has a ton of ambition and really more modern techniques employed throughout it. We get split screens, screen wipes, a scene shot in one long continuous take and ends exactly where the scene began, framing through objects, it really is a very fine looking film and not just because I found a really damn good print for free on YouTube by Cult Cinema Classics. Yes this is one of those public domain movies and the fact you can get it in such great quality and the movie is barely over an hour long, you have precisely nothing to lose. I feel this is Bela Lugosi's most devilish, creepy, and evil performance and I treasure him in Dracula, and while the menace is undoubtedly there in that movie there is just something here that strikes me. I still stand by my claim that eyes can be the most terrifying thing in the world and Bela firmly proves that here. He's on top performance and you can tell he is relishing every moment. Never to shy away from the rest of the cast, I think the couple does fine and while John Harron is very much the straight laced dashing young hero he does bring a bit to the part, and Madge Bellamy is the epitome of what I think women looked like in the roaring 20s and the early 30s, I actually quite liked the preacher who is a more light hearted character but comes through in the end. It's great to finally see it after so many years of seeing it through different films, shows, and even music. I doubt it's any surprise Rob Zombie named his first band after this film, and he just has a lot of appreciation for cult horror from the early days of cinema which I in turn appreciate. It is well worth seeing, one stop short of classic but it has it's abundance of fans and I'll gladly be one. Join in and get hypnotized, zombified, and creepified by this film. 4 stars, 7.5/10, and it's tradition at this point to review at least one black and white horror movie but considering this is the last full week of October, and a good chunk of this month has been non-horror related stuff, stay tuned throughout the week for even more classical noir thrillers.
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