Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Quick Reviews: King of the Zombies (1941)

I debated covering this movie for a couple of reasons, but decided to anyways.  I mean, obviously.  I wouldn't start writing this and then just stop, right?  Anyhow, I got this as a Present courtesy of a $.79 DVD (alongside the next Quick Review)...
To give you some History, this one is one of the early, pre-Romero Zombie Films that many don't realize exist.  Yes, Romero changed how the Films were made ever since 1968, but had no impact on the stuff made over 30 years before his (as you'll see tomorrow).  On to the film...
A trio of people- two Army guys and...their Servant- are lost on their way to the Bahamas and crash land on an island after they hear radio chatter there.
They find it to be a bit creepy and discover that one Austrian man (Maynard's grandpa?) is living there with...the Natives working for him.  Is this vaguely-Racist enough for you yet?
To keep things going then, the movie gives us Zombies (as you'd expect), which are Natives transformed via Voodoo by the Staff (which includes an old Witch and a creepy Butler) and owner of the Castle.

Naturally, nobody believes the 'Servant.'  Of course, his case isn't helped when he doesn't do the one thing he knows would summon the Zombies when everyone is around.  Wouldn't want the film to run short!
The Doctor's evil plan involves a previously-kidnapped (we're told this happened) Admiral and an attempt to steal Military secrets from him to affect the war (WWII, that is).
The Zombies continue to linger about, but don't really do alot on camera.  That's certainly one change that would come from Romero- for better or for worse.
The Doctor keeps experimenting and actually converts one of our leads (off-camera) to his Army.  Can he be stopped?
Yeah, of course he can.  They weren't big on 'dark' endings back in 1941.

We also get the 'explain everything to the Audience' Trope as well, since people were viewed as very dumb back then, apparently.  The End.
It is alright, but certainly hasn't aged well in many regards.  The 'Elephant (which would usually appear in flicks like this too) in the Room' is the way that Mantan Moreland acts/is portrayed in the Film.  He does all of the usual stuff you expect in stuff like this that was made in the pre-Civil Rights Era.  He doesn't *quite* go as far as others- like doing a silly dance, etc- but it is quite enough!  I do have to ask- why does he have to be their Servant?  The Film is set in the same year it came out (or at least right around it at worst), so it is not like those Films that take place before/during the Civil War.  If you have a black Character in a Film like that, I can kind of accept having them play a Servant of some kind.  In this Film, it is hard to get by.  Excluding that whole situation, the Film is chock full of cheesy jokes, silly Acting and just overall ridiculous look.  It doesn't play for Comedy- save for Moreland's bits-, so it is not as 'zany' as the DVD- titled Zany Zombie Films- implies.  As a middle-ground of Thriller and Comedy, it is a bit awkward at times.  Overall, it is more interesting to watch from an historical perspective than as an actual Film, both because of an in spite of stuff like this...
It is a really goofy and dumb film at times.  If you can get past/ignore the obvious racial undertones, it makes for decent 'Have you heard of this one?!?' fare.  Otherwise, just skip.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, saw this one during last halloween when I did an all zombie thing, didn't really love it, it was too silly, too dumb, plus the zombies do next to nothing. This was during the time when zombies did nothing but work on sugar mills. If you want to see a good old fashion zombie movie, may I recommend 'I Walked with a Zombie (1943), it's old school, but its damn good, if you're in the mood for some moody visuals and old school zombies, thats the way to go.