A Quickie on a Quickie: KING OF THE ZOMBIES (Monogram 1941)


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KING OF THE ZOMBIES is a 1941 Monogram horror quickie that does not star Bela Lugosi. Apparently, the great Hungarian actor was too busy at the time. I don’t see how, it’s not like he was making A-list epics that year.  Looking at his 1941 output, Lugosi starred in the studio’s THE INVISIBLE GHOST, SPOOKS RUN WILD with the East Side Kids, and had small roles in Universal’s THE BLACK CAT and THE WOLF MAN . That’s what, about 4-5 weeks worth of work? Anyway, the part of zombie master Dr. Sangre was taken by Henry Victor, best known as strongman Hercules in Tod Browning’s FREAKS.

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What KING OF THE ZOMBIES does have is black comic actor Mantan Moreland . In fact, I’m pretty sure if it wasn’t for Mantan, this film would’ve been lomg forgotten. I know many people today find his pop-eyed, mangled English, “feets do yo stuff” scairdy-cat schtick offensive and…

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Halloween Havoc!: BLACK MOON (Columbia 1934)


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I thought I’d seen, or at least heard of, all the horror films made during the 1930’s. I was wrong. BLACK MOON was new to me when I viewed it recently as part of TCM’S Summer Under the Stars salute to KING KONG’s  main squeeze, Fay Wray. It’s a voodoo tale also starring square-jawed Jack Holt and Pre-Code favorite Dorothy Burgess . The director is Roy William Neill, who would later work with genre giants Karloff (THE BLACK ROOM), Lugosi and Chaney (FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN), and helm eleven of the Universal Sherlock Holmes films with Basil Rathbone.

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The film open with the pounding of jungle drums, and we see Nita Lane (Burgess) is the one pounding them in her luxurious home. Nita grew up on the Caribbean isle of San Christopher, where her parents were murdered during a native uprising. Hubby Stephen (Holt) is against Nita returning to the…

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The Daily Grindhouse: Revenge of the Zombies (dir by Steve Sekely)


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Last night, the Late Night Movie Crew and I watched the 1943 film, Revenge of the Zombies.

Revenge of the Zombies deals with the mysterious Dr. von Aldermann (John Carradine), who has a house on the Louisiana bayous and who is involved in weird, 1940s-style scientific experiments.  As is evident from his name (but not particularly from Carradine’s disinterested performance), von Aldermann is from Germany and his experiments are designed to create an army of zombies who will destroy American from within for the benefit for the Third Reich.  This is a pretty big deal and von Aldermann isn’t particularly subtle about his schemes but, as the film’s begins, nobody has figured out what’s going on.

I guess you can get away with anything on the bayous.

Von Aldermann’s wife Lila (Veda Ann Borg) has recently died but, thanks to the mad scientist, she’s still walking around Louisiana and leading an army of zombies.  Lila’s brother (Robert Lowery) shows up with a private investigator (Mauritz Hugo) and yet another mad scientist (Barry Macollum)  and they eventually figure out that something weird is happening.  With the help of von Aldermann’s secretary (Gale Storm), they try to thwart von Aldermann’s plans and keep the world safe for democracy.

There are a few good points about Revenge of the Zombies.  For one thing, the film is only 61 minutes long so the suffering is short.  As with any low-budget John Carradine horror film, Revenge of the Zombies is fun to watch with a group of snarky friends.  Historically, this film is significant for being one of the first zombie movies.  It’s always interesting to see how non-threatening zombies were in the days before George Romero and The Walking Dead.

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And then there’s the character of Jeff (Mantan Moreland), who is a chauffeur and who provides most of the film’s comic relief. It’s always difficult for contemporary audiences to deal with the racial attitudes displayed in the films and literature of the past.  On the one hand, Jeff is written as a complete and total stereotype and, as you listen to his dialogue, you’re painfully aware of the fact that the goal was to get audiences to laugh at him as opposed to with him.  On the other hand, Moreland is literally the only actor in the film who actually gives a good performance.  Even when delivering the most cringe-worthy of dialogue, Moreland does so with a conviction and commitment that holds your interest.  As you watch Revenge of the Zombies, you really don’t care what happens to most of the bland and interchangeable characters.  But you really do want Jeff to survive.

And, ultimately, you do take some comfort in that.  Moreland was given a role that, as written, was very demeaning but, in the end, Jeff is the only character that you care about.

As for the rest of Revenge of the Zombies, it’s short, it’s pretty bad but it’s not terrible, and you can watch it below!