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White Zombie (1932)

Cast: Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, Joseph Cawthorn, more...
Director: Victor Halperin
    see all cast/crew...
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Genre: Horror, Zombies, Killer Critters, Classic Horror, Classic Horror, Pre-Code, Precode
Running Time: 66 min.
Languages: English
    see additional details...

System Requirements

It is altogether typical of Bela Lugosi's lousy business judgement that he accepted one of his finest film roles for a mere $500 dollars. In the haunting low-budgeter White Zombie, Lugosi stars as Murder Legendre, a shadowy character who exercises supernatural powers over the natives in his Haitian domain. Coveting beautiful Madge Bellamy as his bride, wealthy Robert Frazier is refused her hand in marriage. He enters into an unholy agreement with Lugosi, whereby Madge will fall ill and die, then be resurrected as a zombie-and, implicitly, Frazier's love-slave. This is accomplished, but Lugosi, relishing the hold he has over Frazier, refuses to release Madge's soul. She is ultimately rescued from Living Death by her faithful beau Robert Harron and missionary Joseph Cawthorn (heretofore merely the comedy relief). Few talkie horror films have ever so expertly captured the "feel" of the silent cinema as White Zombie; the film's ethereal, ghostlike ambience enables the audiences to accept even the most ludicrous of plot twists. The producers, Victor and Edward Halperin, use the film's tiny budget to their advantage, evocatively suggesting the horrors that they haven't the financial wherewithal to show on screen. Lugosi is superb throughout, making the most of such seemingly innocuous lines as "Well, well, we understand one another better, now." Long ignored or shunted aside as insignificant, White Zombie can hold its own with any of the like-vintage Universal horror classics. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Special Features:

  • 1952 Trailer in sepia tone
  • A commentary by Lugosi scholar Gary Don Rhodes, author of White Zombie: Anatomy Of A Horror Film
  • Bela Lugosi in a 1932 Intimate Interviews short
  • A segment from the early Fifties television program Ship's Reporter, featuring another Lugosi interview

GreenCine Member Reviews

Great Quality DVD by zeroplusone January 8, 2006 - 1:10 AM PST
Although this is far from the greatest film you'll ever see, it is definately worth watching, if only because it was the first zombie movie.

If you're interested in watching White Zombie, this DVD is your best bet. That is, if you actually want to be able to hear the dialog.

A Necromantic Fairy Tale by mdraine March 1, 2003 - 11:49 AM PST
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
Mythical imagery abounds in White Zombie, one of the most perversely macabre films of the early sound era. Despite a low budget, White Zombie is a far more visually sophisticated film than the previous year's Lugosi vehicle, Dracula. Bela Lugosi revels in the role of a sorcerer who fixes his hypnotic gaze on the young innocent Madge Bellamy. The transfer reveals previously obscured textures and detail, such as the star-filter gleam in Lugosi's eye as he mesmerizes an adversary, or the clover/cruciform pattern on Madge Bellamy's gown, mirroring the stone lattice that vignettes her as she descends a palatial staircase. The optional commentary by film historian Gary Don Rhodes is worth a listen. --Michael Draine

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.85)
60 Votes
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