Revolt of the Zombies (1936) is a loose sequel to White Zombie (1932), the film often credited as the first ever full-length zombie picture.
Like many horror films from 1936, it’s best enjoyed after: blunt force trauma, an irresponsible amount of alcohol, or an apocalypse leaving you underground in a bunker with nothing but films from 1936.
Despite being pretty terrible, we’ve got a nice little premise at play here: using a zombie incantation to win over the one you love….after turning everyone around them into zombies. It’s the Date Rape Drama of ’36, and everyone’s invited.
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Eat My FleshThe backdrop is World War One (that old zombie trick of using times of mass confusion and human carnage to springboard a tale). At the Franco-Austrian Frontier, an Oriental priest has the power to turn men into zombies via incantation.
Years later, Armand Louque (Dean Jagger) discovers part of this incantation while journeying with a company of men in Cambodia. He has fallen in love and proposed to Claire (Dorothy Stone), the daughter of a general on the expedition, but she is already partial to Clifford (Robert Noland), an Englishman among the company. Louque catches onto this and breaks the engagement.
Later, Logue wanders into an ancient temple (as one does) and discovers the rest of the zombie chant on a metal tablet and gains the power to create zombies. FINALLY, he can use the power to zombify Claire, and — you see where this is going — use his power to coerce her into some crazed zombie sex. Alright, not quite, but his powers may be enough to at least work against everyone around Claire and make things sway his way.
A Ghoul By Any Other NameZombies were just beginning to catch on in 1936, and like everything popular in Hollywood, people wanted a piece of that pie. Like ownership of the phrase “living dead” would steer the genre’s course after Night of the Living Dead (1968), the Halperin Brothers (Victor, the director, and Edward, the producer) faced legal trouble with Amusement Securities Corporation, one of the financiers of White Zombie.
The corporation claimed they owned the rights to the word “zombie” in motion picture titles, and they were so not amused that they sent letters to theaters planning on showing the film under threat of… you know, legal stuff. A judge of the New York Supreme Court, in what must have been the slowest legal year of the century, ruled that the Halperin brothers could show their film until a judgment had been made. When all was said and done, Amusement Securities won $11,500, the Halperins couldn’t promote their film as a zombie sequel, and all in all no one fucking cared.
One other cool thing — or the the only cool thing I’ve mentioned — is that Bela Lugosi’s eyes appear whenever someone in the flick is under zombie trance, as is the case in White Zombie. Other than that, remember this one when you’re out at White Zombie Trivia Night next Thursday. You know, at that one bar that totally sucks? Think of me when you get that free shot of Fireball.
Watch Revolt of the Zombies below:
|Buy the film at Amazon.com|
|Buy the film at Amazon.co.uk|
Written by: Ben Mueller