White Zombie - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

White Zombie Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 7, 2010
Shortly after his iconic turn as Dracula, Bela Lugosi made this-the first ever zombie film. It's worth noting that this is also an independent film, not made by Universal or some other major studio. That's perhaps why this one seems to be overlooked more often than not. This is a zombie picture nothing like the kind made by Romero, and others following in his footsteps. Because of this, some viewers may find the film disappointing. I kinda liked it. Despite a short running time, it is rather slow, but the pace just adds to the atmosphere-which is done really well. Given the age of the film, it's surprising that there's some ambition here-especially with the camera work, which features cool and unique dissolves/transitions, framing through objects, and a long take (lasting several minutes) during a conversation that reveals important plot info. Despite its obscureness, the film does have an interesting legacy. Rob Zombie's band (before he went solo) took their name from this movies, which I think is just fine.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
April 10, 2013
White Zombie is another early Bela Lugosi vehicle, this time he plays an evil voodoo witch doctor who's creating an army of zombies to do his bidding. A young couple recently arrives in Haiti to get married at their friend's estate. But their friend has ulterior motives for inviting them. He's determined to steal her away from the groom. With the help of the evil Legendre (Lugosi), he slips her the zombie potion on her wedding day. However, he has her as a zombie, and where's the fun in that?

Lugosi as Dracula and as Legendre does the hypnotic stare and also does a lot of things with his hands. In fact, he might be doing much the same character, just different make-up. The rest of the cast is pretty undistinguished, and apart from it's notoriety as the first "zombie movie" there isn't much reason to watch this. It's rather dull and uninteresting by today's standards.
Super Reviewer
½ September 3, 2010
A great Lugosi movie, if you're a fan you should see this. He has zombies at his command. Fantastic movie!
Super Reviewer
December 27, 2011
It's a shame that Bela Lugosi didn't get more leading parts that exercised his abilities as an actor, but then again, he was quite happy to indulge in his horror legacy and make a living off of it in the process. White Zombie was released a year after the success of Dracula, and its popularity was a big part of that success. However, the film itself isn't quite as good as the one it capatlized on. The storyline is pretty good, but it's all stuff we've seen before and that already we're quite familiar with. A mysterious doctor madman on unknown islands doing devilish things away from society. That's certainly nothing new. The film has a lot of atmosphere and some genuinely creepy moments, but overall just doesn't hold up well or stand out among the others. Most will only watch it for Lugosi's performance, and I can't think of a better reason than that to see it.
Super Reviewer
½ November 2, 2010
The first zombie movie, with a nice moody atmosphere. Casting-wise Lugosi clearly dominates, in many ways this is his movie.
Super Reviewer
½ January 18, 2009
"With these zombie eyes he rendered her powerless...

...with this zombie grip he made her perform his every desire!"

Very educational. For example; I learned that Bela carves a pretty mean candle. And... did anyone else know that the 'zombie grip' makes girls do whatever you want them to do? Why wasn't I informed of this years ago???
Super Reviewer
½ September 7, 2008
You can see that the small budget was used well, to great effect. However, the film has literally not aged well , the copy I saw made little attempt to restore the soundtrack which meant that in some scenes the dialogue was obscured by pops and crackle.
Super Reviewer
½ October 14, 2007
An excellent performance by Lugosi but this is an extremely slow-moving snooze fest.
Super Reviewer
June 20, 2007
The long zombie-cinema marriage started with this little and very interesting film. Lugosi plays once again a devilish man with a thick and menacing accent.
Super Reviewer
May 2, 2007
These are Haitian zombies, not living dead zombies. A dated but still entertaining movie about a man who will go to any lengths to possess the woman he loves, even if he has to kill her. Bela Legosi is fantastic as Murder Legendre, the villianous zombie-maker.
Super Reviewer
November 17, 2011
White obvious limitations are natural as the film was shot in 11 days for a tiny budget, White Zombie is a decent and not to mention the first zombie film known in cinema. The zombie legions are all under the control of Murder Legendre (Bela Lugosi) and not the imminent threat to all in the vicinity zombies we've come to know. The film looks rather hastily thrown together, but still excudes a creepy atmosphere and Bela Lugosi is just as much a part of that as the graveyard and other creepy settings. A decent classic low budget horror flick that was also what inspired Rob Zombie to name his first band White Zombie.
Super Reviewer
½ March 1, 2011
Probably the first zombie movie. Ever. Bela Lugosi plays a sinister voodoo master who has brought the dead to life to work for him. When he comes across a bride to be he hypnotises her and makes her into a zombie, confusing and enraging her husband and also a jealous rival. The zombies in this aren't the flesh tearing, brain eating ones we're used to nowadays. In White Zombie they are just lifeless bodies, made to work, which is still a satire on modern life and something which George Romero would have picked up on. This relies on atmosphere for the most part and does quite well. The performances are good and Lugosi has a scary smile and general look about him which makes him perfect as the voodoo master. Pretty good for 1932. And yes, the great 90's metal band did take their name from this film!
Super Reviewer
½ January 17, 2009
I have recently gotten into watching old horror flicks to see where it all began and zombie flicks (as most of you know) are my faves. I try to put the movies into the context of the time period they are from and how they would have impacted those times. So while White Zombie has some decent early cinematography and builds a measure of suspense, it is also irratatingly slow to come to a climax. Bela Lugosi is sufficiently creepy and it is easy to see why he was one of cinema's big early stars. One thing is real apparent to me... I much prefer my zombies brain and bloodstarved as opposed to voodoo imposed hiding in an early love film.
Super Reviewer
August 27, 2007
Typical Lugosi. Creepy, ham acted and great.
½ October 17, 2012
bela lugosi, zombies & some really nice atmosphere make for an enjoyable, yet certainly flawed early horror flick.
June 18, 2012
I liked this movie. I also thought it was better than the 1930's movie Dracula with Bela Lugosi. Very nice for a low budget film.
½ January 15, 2012
Giving a generous rating in part due to its historical significance as the first US made zombie movie and one of the earlier talkies. The story moves along fairly quickly, but Lugosi and the other actors rely too much on pantomime to express ideas. The acting, as in everything I've seen from this era, is not to my liking - dialogue is delivered too stilted and movements are unnatural. Didn't enjoy this enough to recommend it to anyone.
½ June 12, 2011
Good: Where zombie movies started, good acting, classic
Bad: Low budget, not remastered, slow

The very first zombie film of all time. A man longs for a woman to love him, but she already has a fiancé, overcoming him with jealousy. He goes to a witch doctor to help win the woman over, but the results of his plan are not what he expected. Filling him with guilt and regret. Bela Lugosi as usual does the evil villain, of this low budet horror movie, and does a great job of it. White Zombie has Bela acting the part of Murder Legendre, an evil witchdoctor. The acting on a whole is pretty good. There are scenes where deeper emotion could be beneficial to the screenplay. For back in 1932 this plot was original, leading to future zombie movies. It is still original even now though, I have never seen a movie where they mix zombieism with a jealous lover that will do anything to win the woman of his dreams. This film was independant, and therefore no large company has attempted to remaster it in any form.  At few points in the movie the words will be cut off, movements will be jerky when they re-rolled the scene, but you can usually get the point they were putting across. The movie moves slowly for the one hour it lasts, but I still found it enjoyable. If it were any longer the amount of enjoyment would suffer. This should be a film in the high ranks of movies with Dracula and Frakenstein. But instead it has been cast down to the depths of old movies that never reach their full potential. Like many movies of this decade there is basically no action and all dialogue. It also gave Rob Zombie the name for his debut band White Zombie.
November 11, 2009
By todays standards this is pretty hokey, but it does have some genuinely eerie moments and also some great photography.
September 5, 2009
A rather dull horror film which featured Bela Lugosi and used sets from Dracula and Frankenstein. A young couple are to be married, but a rich man has the bride-to-be turned into a zombie so he can have her all to himself. Much different than the contemporary zombies, this was more of the Caribbean folk-lore type. I have been spoiled by the restored films of this era because the picture quality was terrible, which may have hindered my opinion.
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