SoH Reviews: White Zombie (1932)

The last review for October!

Not for the year, but for October aka the spooky month. And I wouldn’t say I was putting this movie off but I was putting this movie off. Frankly, there’s a lot of movies on my watchlist that I would love to get through this year, we’ll see.

But this was one of the few left on a dvd set to watch and boy, it was an interesting watch. And the word “interesting” is the best way to describe it.

Spoilers galore, we’re gonna talk about the 1932 film White Zombie!


The plot is very mixed at times. Lugosi plays an evil voodoo master who becomes obsessed with a young woman and eventually turns her into a zombie. And how do we know he’s evil? The intense gaze, the eyebrows and the look of a Lucifer/devil type? But stereotypically looking like he stepped out of the illustrations of Dante’s Inferno. whitezombie_3

The best thing about this film was Bela Lugosi’s performance followed by the costumes that the character Madeline wore.

Lugosi seems to always have this on screen charisma and charm that no matter what role he is in, the character comes off as likeable. It’s the same way in this film as his character “Murder” Legendre, definitely good at bringing on the charm while also being a creeper. And as I mentioned before, he is the highlight in this film when it comes to performances. Everyone else either was stiff or overacted.

And my goodness there was some overacting. Or these stagnant moments of “why are we holding on this scene”? 

The film itself had moments of being slow or boring at times when Lugosi wasn’t on screen and I think that’s what this film lacks. It needed more substance, a concrete plot, perhaps more depictions of what exactly Lengendre wants, how far does his “power” go? No matter how powerful you are, there is a wall and I would have liked to see it. We do see his “zombies” which lack souls and if they are dead, I don’t believe so. They come off as mindless machines, doing hard labor, even Legendre suggests using some of them for plantation work. whitezombie_2


Here are some key mentions of my notes live watching:
“Audio quality”, I had to keep raising the volume up but jump when the vultures screamed.
I laughed at the vulture screaming.
What is this joyful music playing as Madeline faints or “dies”?
The zombies have “names”?
I don’t think this is how voodoo works

I believe the cut I watched was the distributed one, only at 67 minutes. I will be sticking with my original rating of 3 out of 5 stars, just like on Letterboxd. White Zombie stars Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, Joseph Cawthorn, Robert W. Frazer, John Harron, Brandon Hurst, and George Burr MacAnnan and was directed by Victor Halperin.

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