Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Revolt of the Zombies (1936)

Revolt of the Zombies was, for director Victor Halperin, a kind of follow-up to his very successful 1932 film White Zombie which had starred Bela Lugosi. Revolt of the Zombies, made in 1936, isn’t very highly thought of but it is an interesting and original little film. These aren’t the zombies so familiar to audiences today, and they aren’t voodoo zombies either. They’re Cambodian zombies. They’re people turned into automatons by a kind of telepathic mind control process. It’s a secret known only to certain priests in French Indo-China. During the First world War one of these priests turns a regiment of Cambodians into unstoppable killing machines. The Great Powers are horrified and the priest is imprisoned. After the war an archaeological expedition is sent to the ancient Cambodian city of Angkor to discover the secret. One of the archaeologists, Armand Louque (Dean Jagger), has been continually taunted by his best friend for his lack of ruthlessness, and the best friend drives home the message by stealing his girlfriend. This romantic sub-plot is in fact the heart of the film because Armand, determined to win back his lady love, decides to use the mysterious powers, powers to create zombies, that he has discovered at Angkor. It’s a fairly slow-moving movie but it’s quite atmospheric and it is at least an unusual zombie movie. It’s in the public domain and it’s worth a look if you can pick it up cheaply. I got it in one of those 20-movie packs. The picture quality is surprisingly good for a public domain movie. Not a great movie, but much better than its very low IMDb rating would indicate.

7 out of 10

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