Today’s episode of televised horror comes from the UK.
First broadcast on October 11th, 1980, the fifth episode of Hammer’s House of Horror was entitled The House That Bled To Death. It’s about a family who buys and moves into a house that has a sordid past. The family plans to fix the house up and then sell it for a profit. The house has other plans.
(Incidentally, The House That Bled To Death would have been a great title for one of Lucio Fuci’s later films.)
Today’s horror movie is an early take on one of the most iconic of all monsters. First released in 1936, Revolt of the Zombies tells the story of what happens when the French discover that the secret to creating zombies is located in Cambodia. Naturally, they organize an expedition to track down that secret and destroy it.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the French and zombies, nothing is ever simple…
Revolt of the Zombies was directed by Victor Halperin, who had previously directed the atmospheric classic White Zombie. Unfortunately, Revolt of the Zombies is hardly a classic. However, I still find the movie interesting as an example of what a Hollywood zombie film looked like before George Romero revolutionized the genre with Night of the Living Dead. The zombies in Revolt of the Zombies are not the undead cannibals that we’ve all been conditioned to expect. Instead, they’re closer to the original zombies: brainwashed servants without a will of their own.
One final note: the eyes that are frequently superimposed over the action belong to Bela Lugosi.
Decade of last.fm scrobbling countdown:
22. Стары Ольса (Stary Olsa, 1,257 plays)
Top track (111 plays): Танцы (Dances), from Келіх кола (Loving Cup, 2000)
Featured track: Дрыгула, from Дрыгула (2009)
I don’t know of too many bands from Belarus, but the one I’m most familiar with is amazing. It’s a bit fitting that Stary Olsa should be my first entry in this on-going series to appear within the fall season, because I actually featured both “Dances” and “Drygula” this time last year. Of course it has nothing to do with horror, but it’s firmly rooted in the traditions from which our Halloween has derived–those of a misty past dominated by perceptions and beliefs not yet subsumed by European Christian standards. I don’t know whether the songs Stary Olsa play are themselves of ancient origin, but their instrumentation certainly is, and the songs they have crafted, whether traditional or original, are convincingly and memorably medieval. You’ll hear none of that western adherence to formula here; playing slightly out of tune or hitting a wrong note is a positive property of the music I like best. It comes to life with an earthiness that strives not for order and rationality, but for a taste of those unpredictable, wild-eyed expressions that highlight the more authentic human experiences of joy and sorrow. A lot of the best folk music abandons modern society’s notions of how these feelings ought to be expressed in exchange for a more direct connection. Stary Olsa certainly aren’t unique in this regard, but they do it better than most any other ensemble I’ve heard.