Don't you get sick of pseudo-zombies? The legions of gut-chomping walking dead that have permeated books, movies, and TV aren't zombies! Romero created this new genre with Night of the Living Dead, and he never even used the word, Zombie. At least not until Land of the Dead, and by then his career had...

No. It's too close to Halloween. I won't badmouth George and his movies today.

You get my point though, don't you? Zombies are mythical creatures in both African and Haitian legend who are men that have been brought back to life through witchcraft by a sorcerer. Usually to be used as a slave.

There aren't that many movies about zombies. The Serpent and the Rainbow comes to mind, but perhaps the most famous is the 1932 independent film, White Zombie. Most people know of the movie, and that its star is Bela Lugosi. But how many have actually seen it?

I must confess that I hadn't watched White Zombie until last night. I've owned the DVD for years, but was saving it for the right time in which to watch the movie. A wet, cold, lonely Halloween seemed the perfect occasion.

White Zombie proved to be the perfect movie for my private little Halloween celebration. It's a fantastic movie that is more effective and compelling than many of the time period.

White Zombie opens with some of the most evocative and creepy footage ever. A soon-to-be-married couple are traveling by night to a plantation in Haiti. Against a backdrop of ominous tribal drumming, they come across a burial in progress. Right in the middle of the road they are on. When they ask the reason for it, they are told that the body is being buried in the road so that it can not be stolen. Meanwhile a group of men are coming toward them, and their driver screams and rides the carriage off as fast as he can. He later explains that he was running from...zombies.

The plantation is run by 'Murder' Legendre, played by Bela Lugosi, who hams it up some, but mostly turns in a credible performance. In fact I think it rivals his iconic portrayal of Count Dracula. Legendre has a pretty good business model going on. Rather than have live men work his sugar plantation, employ the corpses of deceased men for the job. Better yet, he uses the bodies of his former enemies for the work.

The storyline after that gets fairly think, unsurprisingly. It's fairly melodramatic and deals with some romantic entanglements and nefarious schemes to halt the wedding. I won't go into the details of it should you wish to watch White Zombie for yourself.

The main strengths of White Zombie isn't the story. It's the convincing scenery, the atmospheric use of light and shadow, and the innovative camera work. And the zombies themselves are genuinely chilling.

If you do decide to embark on White Zombie for the first time, please avoid the bargain basement DVDs out there. Spent the few extra bucks and get the Roan Group Archival Restored Edition. I think you'll find it worth your time and money.

And it would be best to watch it either alone, or with a loved one. This isn't a party movie. Turn off all the lights and let the Vodou work its magic spell on you.

And as for what passes for zombies now? It makes me nostalgic for the days when I was complaining about evil children and Indian Burial Grounds.

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