Madeline (Madge Bellamy) and Neil (John Harron) travel to Haiti to celebrate their wedding on a plantation owned by their friend, Charles Beaumont (Robert Frazer). The host has designs to seduce the beautiful bride with the help of a mysterious neighbour, mill owner Legendre (Bela Lugosi), who can turn people into obedient zombies by having them drink a Haitian potion and recite mysterious spells. Will Beaumont’s plan work out?
Credited as the first zombie film and produced independently by brothers Victor and Edward Halperin (though shot on sets built at Universal for Frankenstein and The Hunchback of Notre Dame), White Zombie was released in 1932 and starred the icon of early horror films, Hollywood’s first Count Dracula, Bela Lugosi (Dracula, The Black Cat, Plan 9 from Outer Space). The film was made in Hollywood before the advent of the Hays Code, a set of guidelines that banned depictions of nudity, profanity, violence and obscenity. Long thought lost, the picture was rediscovered in the 1960s.
It is not only film-makers that have been inspired by White Zombie. Hard rock musician Rob Zombie named his first band White Zombie after Halperin’s movie.
This screening will be presented together with The Kingdom, episode 4: The Living Dead by Lars von Trier.
- Director ― Victor Halperin
- Writers — Garnett Weston, William B. Seabrook, based on his book The Magic Island
- Genre — horror film, love story
- Production — USA