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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Revolt of the Zombies: 1936

   Although, "White Zombie" was a rather disappointing experience, I can still hope that its sequel will do something right.  Right?  Actually no, because Bela Lugosi does not star in this picture..... well he does, but just his eyes.  In fact, the stare is just stock footage from the first film so I'm not sure if that really counts.  Anyway, this film stars  Dean Jagger and Dorothy Stone.  

   It was also directed by the Halperin brothers, the same people that directed its predecessor.  So, supposedly this film takes place during World War I where the natives are showing the Americans that they can create zombie armies to fight in the war.  They also show off how the zombies can get shot and actually have a bullet wound, whereas in, "White Zombie", there were no bullet wounds inflicted on zombies.  The characters certainly have allot more personality than before and it might be able to help with Lugosi not being in this film.  Also if you've seen this film already than you may be able to agree with me saying that the villain is so easily found that its made a mockery for the fact that they conceal him being a villain by making him close to the good guys in the beginning.  

   If you look at the scene where all the officers are in one room talking, there is one person in particular that stands out.  So let us analyze this character shall we?  Black hat, black suite, cane, goatee, mustache, and sinister grin.....I would be crazy not to check this guy out as a villain.(Here's a quick note:  If you ever see a character in a movie that has all of these traits, then he/she is the villain)  This movie also follows the same trend of having two men after one women.  Congratulations!  You have successfully pinpointed the first feature length film to ever involve an Edward/ Bella/ Jacob situation.  Please don't ask me how I know about stuff like that.  I can now say that without a doubt that there has been no action of any kind for an entire half hour, and that's saying allot considering that the run time for this film is an hour and two minuets.

   However it does utilize some of the time to put in some character development and I am actually surprised because, "White Zombie" had very little character development when it was released.  I almost forgot that this film had zombies in it.  In fact, I almost forgot that this was even a horror film because nothing has happened!  However close to forty minuets in we do see the first zombie created but they change how that actually happens.  In,"White Zombie", Lugosi hypnotizes his victims and does a hand gesture, but in,"Revolt of the Zombies", one of the men mixes chemicals together, puts it under a fire until smoke rises, and blows the smoke to his assistant.  

   This is fine, I suppose except you can clearly see that the smoke envelops the man and not the assistant!  Actually, its not quite sure which is the real villain.  It seems as though every man wants to kill each other. However, the plot does focus on the secret of summoning zombies, and not a rivalry based on love.  During the climax there is a revolt.....but not of zombies!  Its only when the victims loose there, um, zombification, that they start to run a muck.   

In conclusion:  This movie was all around disappointing.  All the aspects that made the first movie good aren't present in the sequel.  There is no Bela Lugosi to steal the show, very little pay off once again and no action at all!  I didn't think that this film could be worse than its predisesor but it managed to pull it off.  Almost ninety percent of the run time was made up of dialog and half the time most things were unexplained concepts that worked with zombies in this film but not in the other.  Where the movie faulted was when the whole movie was spent hyping up the zombies to be something worth waiting and hour to see when there really wasn't enough screen time to pay any thing off with the time left and what was left in the climax was just used clumsily.  This movie can be summed up with one word:  disappointing.  But by all means your welcome to see for yourself.  If you have different opinions about this film, please explain why there would be any in the comment section below.

3 stars  

Live the life surreal,

           Next Review:  Psycho 1960     

Monday, June 27, 2011

White Zombie: 1932

   This film was made during the worst part of the depression by  Victor Halperin and produced by an independent studio.  It was later released by United Artists. The film is called,"White Zombie" and happens to be one of the first (if not the first) zombie movie.  It stars Bela Lugosi as Murder Legendre, a voodoo master.  What you may want to know is that zombies were portrayed as hypnotized servants and not cannibals from beyond the grave.  These zombies are neither dead nor alive.  

   When the film starts we get to see the, "Evil Stare" of Bela Lugosi and if your're a big fan of his work which I know I am, this stare is one of his iconic looks that he brings along in most of his villainous roles.  I found out that this film says it takes place in Haiti which may have been appropriate being that there might have been superstitions about zombies existing in that area.  There is a sort of forcefulness with Murder's performance when bargaining with the owner of the mansion.  He knows that the man will do anything for Madeline, the women that he is in love with, so he, in a way has much more power over him.  I believe that this girl is the owners weakness and Murder knows this.  

   I also find it interesting how Murder gets Madeline under his spell.  The doll of her carved out of wax was very creative and I believe spawned many other techniques for voodoo charms.  Just remember that this was one of the first.  I very much like the performance of the owners struggle to let go of Madeline's ,"death", and you begin to see how much he cared for her.  

In conclusion:  Most if not all of the characters in ,"White Zombie" were forgettable with the exception of Bela Lugosi.  It was as if his performance was holding up the entire film and although I consider him to be one of the greatest horror film actors ever, even with him staring I would pass this film.  I can give the excuse of viewing this purely because of Lugosi's performance.  However if I wanted to watch Bela Lugosi, then I would have watched ,"Dracula".  To add on, there were no action scenes if you could even count the climax as being one and no pay off whatsoever.  After you view this film for yourself and feel differently about my opinion, please tell me what you thought in the comment section below.  Thank you.

3 stars

Live the life surreal,


    Next Review:  Revolt of the Zombies 1936

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Invisible Man: 1933

   One thing to point out with this film is that it has been remade two other times, one in 1951 and the other in 1960.  I chose to review the 1933 version of, "The Invisible Man".  It was directed by James Whale based off of the book of the same name by H.G Wells.  It stars Claude Rains as a scientist named Jack Griffin who was successful in turning himself invisible.  To hide his appearance(or lack of appearance) he bandages his skin, wears shades and dresses in layers. 

   For months he has been away from his wife trying to find a way to turn himself visible again.   If you've seen this film before you share my sentiments when I think that the bartender's wife is the most annoying character in this movie.  I don't want to give you the impression that you shouldn't see this film because of her, because at times it can be very funny.  In fact there are many strange characters presented in this movie.  There is a police man who is by far the most nonchalant person I've ever seen and its hilarious how he reacts totally calm when he sees the invisible man for the first time.  To add on, when he does show the police man who he is, the effects of him being invisible are incredible.

  I should point out that no special effects were used to make the scientist look the way he does, everything uses optical effects.  Jack Griffin's voice is very strong and I thing this is exactly what an invisible man needs to stay credible without the visual help.  The transformation of Jack becoming insane is pulled  off correctly and flows at a  steady pace until the climax. Along with Jack's insanity building up, he can still manage to pull off being sympathetic and evil at the same time.  There is also a theme of beauty and beast  that is portrayed at the end and, in a way, helps you to feel as though he was innocent and that jack's mental outbreaks were purely caused by the drugs he took to stay invisible. There is also an example of irony within, "The Invisible Man", which is how Jack tested his experiment of invisibility on himself deliberately, and, for the remainder of the film try's to reverse the effect and when he does become visible, he dies.  

In conclusion, I didn't really feel as though this film was  horror-based, rather science fiction-based.  The optical effects were outstanding and Claude Rains's voice as The Invisible Man was very well played.  I however didn't enjoy it, and this was because I was viewing the film as a horror movie, so if you are going to see, "The Invisible Man" (Which you can at the bottom of this review), take heed, watch this film as though it was a science fiction film and not horror.(This is only a suggestion of course)  However, this is very funny to watch and I hope you'll enjoy this film more than I have.

4 and a half stars

   Live the life surreal,

        Next Review:  White Zombie 1932 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nosferatu: 1922

    For my first review I thought it would be fitting to start off with one of the first vampire films.  Nosferatu was made in Germany and was released in 1922 by director F.W. Murnau.  The film opens on Jonathan Harker, who was at the time living in the city of Wisborg. His boss Renfield, wants Harker to travel to Transylvania to sell a house to Count Orlok (Dracula).  The reason that the characters names were altered was because they couldn't obtain the rights to, Bram Stoker's," Dracula", the novel Nosferatu is based off of.  

   Now, the music that is played throughout the film is very well done because it(most of the time) accurately sets the tone of every scene, however strange it is.  However, sometimes the music playing just sounds like the same pitch of notes being played over and over which can sometimes be annoying.  You could actually replace the soundtrack of the film with something whimsical and it would work in its favor.  But if we did that nothing would be taken seriously.  I've also noticed something that many other people might have noticed if this was also their first silent film which is that many ,if not all, of the actors in Nosferatu have heightened emotional reactions to most everything around them (they overact).  However in this case I think that the film needed this because of the lack of actual dialog to express themselves.  

   I know that the film makers didn't mean for this to be an effect, but the film grain that was created during filming adds an eerie and displacing effect.  To add on I also believe that the architectural designs  used for Transylvania hold up to this day and can still be quite surreal compared to normal towns.  Although Ill have to point out that the overacting can be very funny at times and this does lower the seriousness trying to be placed in every act.  In conclusion I recommend this movie to hard-core horror film fanatics as it can be a little boring at times.  The atmosphere is quite scary besides that and is very fun to look at.  So if you can get past the overplayed characters and the silly facial expressions that are made, you are in for an enjoyable film.

5 stars

   Live the life surreal, 


     Next Review:  The Invisible Man 1933