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(Review originally written at 29 July 2005)

Zombie movies from the '30's and '40's are quite different from the zombie movies most people know from the '70's till present time. In the '30's and '40's, zombies and voodoo kind of rituals always walked hand in hand. As a result of this zombie movies from the '30's and '40's have a certain creepy atmosphere and scary voodoo sound effects.

"White Zombie" is the very first (still excising) zombie movie ever made. The zombies look extremely good and creepy thanks to the charismatic actors that perform them. Don't underestimate this people, acting with just your body and mostly face is also a form of tough acting. I think that it is thanks to the fine casting of the zombies that most of the scene's with them in it, work really well.

Bela Lugosi is totally fantastic as sort of witch doctor and 'king of the zombies'. He plays one scary monsieur. I even tend to say that this is his best villain role he has ever portrayed, yes even better as Count Dracula. Lugosi was always at his best in roles like these and just like in "Dracula" he is once more acting very well with also both his hands and face, especially his typical horror-like-eyes make him one legendary villain. For the Lugosi fans this is an absolute must see!

The story is very intriguing and sad and its told in a beautiful way. Especially the ending was fantastic and actually also quite tense.

Unfortunately time has not been kind on this movie. The movie had been lost for many years until the '60's after acquiring the rights to distribute the movie, the quality was already beyond restoration, so now days we can never watch this movie in its full glory. The movie has the grainy and visual look of movies from the 1920's and at times small chunks of sound and music are missing.

The cinematography is absolutely fantastic and the experimental editing provides some unique and extremely well looking sequences. It reminded me of some of Brian De Palma's early work. There is one unique and brilliant scene that I can't even describe. It features a split screen but the scene is constructed more complex than I make it sound. Really something you have to see for yourself.

OK maybe the beginning of the movie isn't that good and memorable and quite standard and typical for the horror genre in the '30's but the last half hour or so is really unique, excellent, tense and just a shear delight to watch, mainly thanks to Bela Lugosi's his character 'Murder' Legendre (what a brilliant name by the way) and the story in which once more love conquers all.

By the way this is the movie Ed Wood and Bela Lugosi were watching together in the movie "Ed Wood". Most people think that it was a Dracula movie with Lugosi but it in fact is this movie they're watching.

A really unique little forgotten horror masterpiece, that's worth seeing already alone for its movie historical value and Lugosi's fantastic, passioned villain role.

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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