King of the Zombies Reviews

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Super Reviewer
March 12, 2013
Three men crash land their plane on a Caribbean island where a doctor with a German accent is secretly creating a mini-army of "sombies." As the cowardly black butler, Mantan Moreland steals the show ("zombies is dead folks what's too lazy to lay down"); his role is stereotypical minstrel show stuff, but his delivery is killer, and he's the only living thing in the otherwise brain-dead movie.
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2008
Hilarious, racist and just a hoot to watch. Reminds of the old Stooges shorts when they were staying in a haunted house. Not much on horror here, so skip it if you're looking for that.
Super Reviewer
April 18, 2007
Such a poorly made and politically incorrect movie. This is the kind of movie your racist horror film-loving grandpa is into. A bunch of Uncle Tom Haitian zombies running around an island of an evil Nazi genius. You might get a laugh out of it if nothing else...
Super Reviewer
March 3, 2008
½ January 15, 2010
The film tells the story of a couple army operatives and their valet (why would you bring a valet on a military mission?) who crash land on a mysterious island while looking for a missing admiral. After they land, they discover that the island is inhabited by an Austrian ex-pat doctor with an army of servants who?re distinctly zombie-like. It?s a pretty amusing movie, with the solid writing and acting characteristic of b-movies of the era. Some thoughts:

* Clearly the best part of the film is Mantan Moreland, the beloved character actor from innumerable 1930s and 1940s films. He?s got an hilarious physical presence, jittering and skittering in the tradition of the cowardly sidekick like Costello or Shaggy/Scooby. He gets all the best laugh lines, and is the only one who gets funny scenes. The best bit is his banter with the scullery maid, who offers him lots to eat and trades barbs with equal wit.
* Of course, the worst part of the film is the grotesque stereotypical part given to Mantan Moreland, who plays ?Jeff,? the loyal valet. A continuation of the minstrel tradition, Moreland speaks with the exaggerated slang typical of such characters and lives out all the worst stereotypes of behavior. As an educated, hyper-conscious white man I found myself cringing at these elements as I laughed at the humor, and then cringing that I?d laughed. The inextricability between the human elements of Jeff and the racially loaded elements coming from the history of minstrelry and American theater make the film challenging to watch.
* King of the Zombies uses the voodoo zombie, but combines it with the villainy of Nazi Germany, turning the ex-pat Austrian into an intelligence agent for the third reich. He combines hypnotism with voodoo (by way of a native priestess) to control his zombies, though it?s unclear why he has a big army of zombies. There?s also an unexplained niece who hates him but doesn?t seem to be able to do anything about it.

It?s worth watching if you like older zombie movies, and complicated humor steeped in traditions of racial tension. You can watch it on the Internet Archive if you like.
September 4, 2009
Holy crap this was awesome! An early horror comedy, maybe the first zombie-comedy (well, Ghost Breakers had one zombie in it, so I guess its a close call). Hilarious throughout - the character Jefferson Jackson was downright amazing in nearly every way. Timing was impeccable and the subject matter was right on. I would love to see this remade (and I already started casting - so far I have John Turatatino as Dr. Sangre and Renee Zellwegger as Barbara Winslow, but who could fill Mantan "Shit, if this is gonna be that kind of party, I'm gonna stick my dick in the mashed potatoes" Mooreland's shoes?), but anyone who has seen this knows it could never be remade without some major changes. Definitely a period piece (the subtle anti-German propaganda really isn't so subtle), but it still retains everything it was trying to do all these years later. Two military men crash land their plane on an island in the Caribbean. An Austrian doctor lives on a plantation where he has many servants. Later it is shown they are actually zombies as he works closely with an island priestess to control them. Definitely a buyer!
½ July 10, 2007
More an archival piece than something you really want to go out, buy, and watch. It's kind of tough to track down, but if you do, it's very cheap, so it's worht the asking price just to have it in your collection.
As you can imagine, released in '41, this thing is extremely low-budget as it is pre-WWII which was, sadly, the jump start to our economy over in the U.S.
The plot isn't too bad and I'm sure if a Danny Boyle or a Kubrick ,etc were to tackle it, it could be very well-done. Overall, the film is really sketchy and the editing is downright terrible with some inexplicable cuts in the middle of scenes.
Like I said, more or less by today's standards, it's a terrible film, but it's not a dreadful film. Big difference. If you're a huge zombie fanatic that wants to own as many as you can, go out and track it down. If not, no hard feelings, you're life won't be incomplete if you don't have it.
January 4, 2014
Using WW2 and Black comedians for a thrill in a supposedly zombie film, does not work!
February 6, 2013
So I really really liked this film. It feels as if it is no way shape or form a horror production at all and revolves around the ignorance and humor of Jeff the films racist model. The film has a great campy atmosphere, and does not at all take itself to serious. It gently rolls everything along and constantly tosses humor at you. The whole plot is that two men and their servant Jeff; who I honestly thought stole the show as he is so lovable. But these two men hear a distress call in their plane and attempt to land to investigate but wind up crashing on a strange island inhabited by voodoo magic. The plot doesn't really make much sense as the film progresses, but it really is strong with that cheese factor and all that campy goodness. The character Jeff is what this film is really about, to me its as if I child so innocent was in a big guys body, he doesn't really know how to act to well, and his eyes are always bulging out of his head, but he's innocent and pure and just having a good time. However the end of the movie just feels rushed and slapped together just to tie the end of the movie in. There's a nice little happy ending and everything works out in the end even. This movie just touched me on a very basic level, I love movies that don't take themselves to seriously, have a good comedic relief element and a flare of the great unknown and mysterious. Its good old fashioned family racism in my opinion, in a sense that you are well aware that they are stereotyping someone but its not completely in a negative way and it helps the film flow along. A few points off for needless scenes and at times it felt the film was dragging on a bit, but that was mainly at the end. I really do recommend this film for any horror classic film, its definitely worth a watch although I must say its hard to call it a horror classic.. more like a horror/comedy classic...with more emphasis on comedy, but gives you that much sought after feel good feeling. Check it out, again its public domain so youtube it!
January 16, 2013
Wacky, but a bit dumb. The characters are typical, the voodoo zombies aren't really horrifying, but the plot is decent and there's plenty of laughs and black humor. It gets a bit slow after the beginning though, but I wouldn't think of it as bad. Fun and dark.
½ October 24, 2012
Reviewers are all wet. This is a comedy, not a chiller, and it matters not one bit that many of the laughs are unintentional. Mantan Moreland is absolutely brilliant here; idiots who carp about 'political incorrectness' are missing both the subtlety and the hilarity this underrated comic brings to the screen. Too bad. When Moreland's not onscreen, the production itself is so laughably bad you'll still find something to chuckle about.
July 31, 2012
I love old monster movies but this is way off from being one of the best. Not even much of an attempt at any scares. However there are always redeeming qualities and in this movie it is Jeff, the servant who has all the best scenes and one liners. Worth watching for him alone. 3/10
November 19, 2010
Everyone is trying to make a lame horror movie exept one guy who turns it into a comedy.
October 29, 2010
Wow, talk about old-school racism. I guess this was before the days when you were allowed to say "zombie" in a zombie movie.
½ September 15, 2010
King of the Zombies was a dissapointment, i was hoping for something featured on the same dvd as the silent movie Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde to be alot better. All the scenes in the movie feel very awkward, but maybe thats just because I found the the black stereotype character very annoying and unnecessary.

The doctor to me seemed like a less smoothe rip-off of Dracula, obviously no where near as cool or creepy. Some of the acting was ok, but nothing special. The ceremony drum scene is very laughable, it looks and sounds ridiculous, and the ending is pretty lame aswell.
July 29, 2010
Was utter crap except for the racial stereotyped preformance of the gifted Moreland, and the maid (Whitten or something or like that) was pleasant to look at. I bet this is one of Spike Lee's favorite films (sarcasm).
August 14, 2006
King of the Zombies
Starring: Dick Purcell, Mantan Moreland, John Archer, and Joan Woodbury
Director: Jean Yarbrough

Mac (Purcell), Bill (Archer), and Jeff (Moreland) are forced to land on a mysterious island after their plane runs low on fuel. Here, they find a mysterious family who aren't at all what they seem... and who are the center of a Nazi cult of undeath.

"King of the Zombies" is one of those movies that you should show to your ultra-liberal, hyper-PC friends. Their heads will explode when Moreland (as Jeff, friend and loyal servant to adventuresome pilot, Mac) starts in on his stereotypical, subserviant negro comedy routine--a character that was typical in this sort of film through the mid-1940s.

There's a difference here, however. Unlike most films where the black comic relief character is a cowardly goof who needs the guidance and protection of the dashing, capable white hero to get safely through the night, it's actually Jeff who recognizes the danger faced by the heroes. If Mac and Bill weren't a pair of racist jackasses, who dismiss everything that Jeff has to say without even the slightest bit of consideration, there would have been fewer lives lost as the trio struggles against the Nazi zombie master.

Unfortunately, I doubt the filmmakers were aware of this irony, either while reading the script, during shooting, or while assembling the final product. If they were, it goes unnoticed by any character in the film. Given the overall lack of quality in this too-slowly-paced, mostly badly acted low-budget part horror/part wartime propaganda film, I am almost certain the juxtaposition of the very clever black character against the dull-witted white heroes is a complete accident.

I can't really recommend "King of the Zombies", but I do think Mantan Moreland's performance is an excellent one, as he has great comedic timing and a whole raft of truly hilarious lines. The fact that Jeff ultimately emerges as the brightest character in the film is also something that's noteworthy, and I think it gives the film a unique twist.
½ July 18, 2005
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