Friday, February 14, 2014

White Zombie Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Scott Meyers 
Kino Classics is proud to present the Blu-ray and DVD release of the 1932 cult classic White Zombie, starring legendary horror film icon Bela Lugosi in one of his most famous roles. One of the earliest films dealing with the Haitian zombie myth (which would eventually transform into one of the most enduring subgenres of the horror film), White Zombie is a chance for audiences to see Bela Lugosi in one of his finest roles mastered in HD from a 35mm fine grain master, and presented in a dual edition that includes both a digitally-restored version, as well as the raw, unenhanced film transfer (with natural grain intact).

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Bela Lugosi is back. After his overnight successful role in Tod Browning's Dracula, Lugosi found another terrifying role playing Murder Legendre, a man who works in the arts of voodoo. White Zombie originally came out in 1932 and was re-released in 1951 and has been out of circulation until it was released on Blu-ray in 2013. Madeleine (played by Madge Bellamy) travels to Haiti to reunite with her fiance Neil (played by John Harron) with plans to be married soon. On their way way to their lodge the couple passes Legendre and he watches them with interest. 

Once they arrive at their destination the wealthy plantation owner, Charles (played by Robert Frazer), falls for Madeleine. Charles meets with Legendre to solicit his assistance to help him convince Madeleine to marry him. Legendre tells Charles the only way that he can help is to turn Madeleine into a zombie with a potion; Charles agrees and slips Madeleine the potion. Shortly after the couple's nuptials the potion takes effect and Madeleine appears to die and is buried.

Legendre and Charles enter Madeleine's tomb and revive her into a zombie. Soon Neil sees the ghost of his dead wife in a drunken state and decides to go to her tomb, where he finds it empty. Neil decides to seek the assistance of a local missionary, who told Neil of stories of Legendre turning people in zombies. Charles begins to regret his actions and begs Legendre to reverse Madeleine, which Legendre refuses; soon Charles finds himself beginning to turn into a zombie. Neil goes to confront Legendre and finds himself the target of murder. Neil follows Madeleine and is able to confront Legendre and demand his bride be changed back. From that point there is no telling who will be saved and who will be forever a the undead.

The overall film was very well done. The eeriness of a film done over 80 years ago was still there. I looked at the history of the film and Bela Lugosi and I was amazed that the film was shot in a total of 11 days, that made the wow factor even more. The storyline was still one that could be used today, with the uniqueness of the zombie aspect. I enjoy the zombie storyline and loved to see how one of the original zombie movies has had an impact on many movies throughout the years. The speed of the film did not slow down and the acting abilities of the actors was well done. I have not watched too many older movies like this but it has made me a fan.
Video (2 out of 5 stars)
The 1080p, 1.33:1 format is great on the box. But when watching the film it is still a remastered film from 1932 35mm film. There is only so much that they are able to do to modernize the quality of the film. One of the extras was the original 1932 raw film; looking at the original film, the editors were able to do a lot with it but not sure if the blu-ray is worth the extra cost.
Audio (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Formatted in 2.0 mono the audio is not the modern audio that today's films use. However from the title screen of the film, the audio starts off the whole experience. The eerie music starts and makes you want to press play and get the movie rolling. The dialogue volume is a very average level, but as an overall remastered film the audio levels are decent.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
Original Film in Raw - Shows the film in it's original 35mm quality. Able to see the poor grainy quality of film.
Bela Lugosi Interview
Original Movie Trailer - from 1951 re-release
Gallery - Stills from theatrical film as well as movie posters
Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
The overall experience of this film was average; I enjoyed the film and would recommend to another person, but not worth the Blu-ray being a remake of such an old film. The video and audio quality are not modern day movie quality, but for being such an old film they were able to remaster it to be a much better quality than the original film (which was one of the extras features). The supernatural aspect of this film was well done; it was not one of the modern day films that has to overdo the special effects. Zombies are the new fad in movies and the fact that this was the first full length zombie movie is interesting fact. I did not know anything about the main actor, Bela Lugosi, so watching the short interview with him allowed me to learn something about him and makes me want to see other movies that he has done. 

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