White Zombie: The Movie

Ah, Béla, Béla from Lugos—the Hungarian actor from a little town outside the western border of Transylvania, who made a big splash in Hollywood as Count Dracula in the 1931 movie, starred as Murder Legendre, the Haitian voodoo master in control of a crew of zombies, in White Zombie the following year. The movie, which was filmed in 11 days, was actually a pretty big hit for the era, though today the box office receipts would make you wince and probably think about changing careers.

The story? A beautiful woman, Madeleine Short, arrives in Haiti to marry her handsome fiancé. The two go together to the home of a wealthy plantation owner, Charles Beaumont, who falls in love with Madeleine and wants to make her his. So, he enlists the aid of an evil voodoo master (that’s our Béla as Murder Legendre) who is known for using his own not-so-merry band of homemade zombies to run his sugar cane mill. The plot twists and turns, but poor Madeleine becomes a zombie who will do ol’ Murder’s will and needs some serious saving. There is a battle. Undirected zombies plunge over a cliff. All’s well that ends well in this eerie stumble through darkness. And there was a sequel, Revolt of the Zombies (not successful) and a eventually a heavy metal band with the same name (very). Timing is everything.

—Erin Orison, DEAD LOVE/the Daily Slice