The first zombie film ever created by director/producer Victor Halperin in 1932. The title “White Zombie” derives from one of the characters played my Madge Bellamy (Madeleine), who is engaged, then poisoned by a potion that transforms her into a souless creature known as a “zombie”. I dunno if any of you have seen this film, you can find it anywhere these days and for a very cheap price. The story begins with Neil and Madeleine on their way to Beaumont’s estate, who invited them both in. (It’s actually not explained why they accepted - but it dosen’t matter). Amidst their arrival we learn that Beaumont is madly in love with Madeleine and has set up an appointment with a dark voodoo prince, Murder Legendre (Bela Lugosi). There’s actually a great and evocative scene that is my absolute favorite. In a sugar-mill factory we see “zombies” working and working. MURDER: “They work faithfully and are not worried about long hours,” says zombie master Legendre of his creatures, in justification of the capitalist organisation represent by the metropolis-like machinery of the mill.
Zombies of the Haitian Voodoo variety represent a loss of cognition/consciousness and also a loss of free will. What is it except these things, after all, that separates us from animals. By “controlling” another person and eliminating that persons ability to make choices, let alone engage in conscious thought, the “controller” has reduced that person to the level of an animal and has robbed him of his humanity. A distinct parallel might be drawn here between western cultures that have promoted the use of slavery (we work and work, only to survive. We are caught up in a system. We wake up, work 8 hours, 5 days a week. And in our free time we waste life by watching TV, and all sorts of meaningless shit. We basically live to die.) That scene alone tells so much with very little, it is brilliant, and it still stands to this day. We have no control. In the latter, Madeleine is poisoned during her wedding and dies. A few days later she is digged up by Murder and Beaumont, where she is resurrected. Now the film is heavy on superfluous exposition, but the whole movie feels like a dream, the texture of the scene, it’s so bizarre yet beautiful. After Neil discovers what has transpired, he goes to Murder’s castle to recover Madeline, where he succeeds. I love and hate this film, it brings mixed feelings when you watch it, I can’t explain it, it will stick with you. –