White Zombie (1932)

68, 70 or 73 mins | Horror | 4 August 1932

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HISTORY

A modern source includes the following credits: Asst to prod , Sidney Marcus; Orig mus , Guy Bevier Williams, Xavier Cugat; Addl mus , Nathaniel Dett, Gaston Borch, Hugo Riesenfeld, Leo Kempenski, Hen Herkan, H. Maurice Jacquet; Op cam , J. Arthur Feindel ; and Asst cam , Charles Bohny and Enzo Martinelli. Modern sources provide the following additional information about the production: Kenneth Webb, author of the play Zombie (New York, Feb 1932) sued the Halperins for the movie rights to the film, but the Halperins won the case. The film cost approximately $50,000 to produce, was funded by the New York firm Amusement Securities Corp., and was filmed at RKO Pathé and Universal Studios. According to actor Clarence Muse, some scenes were rewritten in part by Bela Lugosi, and he helped direct some retakes. Muse also noted that although another actor was originally hired to play the coach driver, Muse replaced him. Some footage of the previous actor's work was used in the film, however, that actor has not been identified. Modern sources note that Halperin Productions' 1936 sequel Revolt of the Zombies (see above) contained some footage from this ... More Less

A modern source includes the following credits: Asst to prod , Sidney Marcus; Orig mus , Guy Bevier Williams, Xavier Cugat; Addl mus , Nathaniel Dett, Gaston Borch, Hugo Riesenfeld, Leo Kempenski, Hen Herkan, H. Maurice Jacquet; Op cam , J. Arthur Feindel ; and Asst cam , Charles Bohny and Enzo Martinelli. Modern sources provide the following additional information about the production: Kenneth Webb, author of the play Zombie (New York, Feb 1932) sued the Halperins for the movie rights to the film, but the Halperins won the case. The film cost approximately $50,000 to produce, was funded by the New York firm Amusement Securities Corp., and was filmed at RKO Pathé and Universal Studios. According to actor Clarence Muse, some scenes were rewritten in part by Bela Lugosi, and he helped direct some retakes. Muse also noted that although another actor was originally hired to play the coach driver, Muse replaced him. Some footage of the previous actor's work was used in the film, however, that actor has not been identified. Modern sources note that Halperin Productions' 1936 sequel Revolt of the Zombies (see above) contained some footage from this film. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Feb 88
pp. 34-40.
Film Daily
29 Jul 32
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald
6 Aug 32
p. 36.
New York Times
29 Jul 32
p. 18.
Photoplay
1 Sep 32
p. 110.
Time
8 Aug 32
p. 18.
Variety
2 Aug 32
p. 15.
DETAILS
Release Date:
4 August 1932
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Corp.
Copyright Date:
1 August 1932
Copyright Number:
LP3357
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Photophone Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
68, 70 or 73
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

On their arrival in Haiti, Neil Parker and Madeleine Short, a young couple, take a coach that passes a funeral in which the body is being buried in the road. That night, they are followed by several eerie figures who, their coachman informs them, are zombies. He explains that the dead are buried in the road in hopes that the many passers-by will prevent the body from being exhumed and turned into a zombie. As their coach passes him while he is standing in the road, "Murder" Legendre, owner of the local sugar mill that employs the zombies, snatches Madeleine's scarf. Neil and Madeleine arrive at the home of the wealthy Charles Beaumont, whose desire for Madeleine prompts him to ask Murder for supernatural assistance, although he has invited her and Neil to be married in his house. Because Murder looked deeply into Madeleine's eyes while she was in the coach, he knows her love for Neil is true and unwavering, and his only solution for Charles is to transform Madeleine into a zombie. Charles is horrified by this alternative, but takes the potion given to him by Murder. During the wedding ceremony, Charles entreats Madeleine to leave Neil, but to no avail. Shortly after the wedding, Madeleine, having been given the potion, apparently drops dead and is buried, only to be disinterred by Murder and Charles and brought back to life as a zombie. Neil, who in a distraught and drunken state sees apparitions of Madeleine, seeks the assistance of a missionary, Dr. Bruner. Bruner consults with a witch doctor who is the only man known to have left Murder's fortress alive. The ... +


On their arrival in Haiti, Neil Parker and Madeleine Short, a young couple, take a coach that passes a funeral in which the body is being buried in the road. That night, they are followed by several eerie figures who, their coachman informs them, are zombies. He explains that the dead are buried in the road in hopes that the many passers-by will prevent the body from being exhumed and turned into a zombie. As their coach passes him while he is standing in the road, "Murder" Legendre, owner of the local sugar mill that employs the zombies, snatches Madeleine's scarf. Neil and Madeleine arrive at the home of the wealthy Charles Beaumont, whose desire for Madeleine prompts him to ask Murder for supernatural assistance, although he has invited her and Neil to be married in his house. Because Murder looked deeply into Madeleine's eyes while she was in the coach, he knows her love for Neil is true and unwavering, and his only solution for Charles is to transform Madeleine into a zombie. Charles is horrified by this alternative, but takes the potion given to him by Murder. During the wedding ceremony, Charles entreats Madeleine to leave Neil, but to no avail. Shortly after the wedding, Madeleine, having been given the potion, apparently drops dead and is buried, only to be disinterred by Murder and Charles and brought back to life as a zombie. Neil, who in a distraught and drunken state sees apparitions of Madeleine, seeks the assistance of a missionary, Dr. Bruner. Bruner consults with a witch doctor who is the only man known to have left Murder's fortress alive. The doctor, however, refuses to become involved. Neil and Bruner then journey to Murder's castle and camp on the beach below the cliffs. As Neil suffers from a tropical fever, Bruner approaches the castle alone, but later, images of Madeleine awaken Neil and he, too, enters the castle. Charles, meanwhile, regrets Madeleine's transformation and begs Murder to return her to life, but Murder has his own ideas for Madeleine, who is completely under his control, and refuses. Charles realizes to his horror that he, too, has been tainted by the potion and is slowly being transformed into a zombie. When Neil enters the fortress, Murder senses his presence, and after Neil collapses, Murder silently orders Madeleine to kill him. Unaware of her own actions, Madeleine approaches Neil with a knife, but Bruner grabs her hand from behind a curtain, and she drops the instrument and walks away. Neil awakens and follows Madeleine to the cliff, and Murder commands his zombies to kill Neil. Bullets do not stop the zombies, but when Bruner knocks Murder out, the zombies topple off the cliff to their deaths. Murder awakens and eludes Neil and Bruner until Charles, who has recovered some of his motor capabilities, pushes Murder off a cliff. The fall kills Murder, and Charles is unable to regain his balance and falls to his death as well. Murder's death releases Madeleine from her stupor and she is restored to Neil. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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