08/28/2014  
Willow Creek on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 9Dinosaur Train: Buddy's Halloween Adventure on DVD Sep 2Hangmen Also Die on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 9Young Frankenstein: 40th Anniversary One-of-a-kind Blu-ray Sep 9Welcome Back, Kotter: The Complete Series on DVD Aug 26The Twilight Zone: The Complete '80s Series on DVD Aug 26Trust Me on DVD Aug 26

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Joan Rivers hospitalized in critical condition after sh...
Willow Creek on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 9...
Is 'Full House' the Ultimate TGIF Show? We Rank the 11 ...
Brosnan, Pierce Brosnan in 'The November Man'...
Dinosaur Train: Buddy's Halloween Adventure on DVD Sep ...

JB Joseph Burke

The Answer to American Idol's Problems Is......
CONCRETE BLONDES...
CREAM FAREWELL CONCERT...
JACK REACHER...
MANBORG...

CA Chuck Aliaga

CORRUPTION (BLU-RAY)...
THE ATTACK (BLU-RAY)...
TANK GIRL (BLU-RAY)...
HORROR STORIES...
THE UNINVITED (BLU-RAY)...

RR Rich Rosell

THE GIRL...
THE HORDE...
LIFE IS SWEET (BLU-RAY)...
SHOUT AT THE DEVIL (BLU-RAY/DVD COMBO)...
THE BLUE ANGEL (BLU-RAY)...

MZ Mark Zimmer

BABY PEGGY: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM...
STORAGE WARS: VOLUME THREE...
Take Part in a Film Restoration...
THE 39 STEPS (BLU-RAY)...
DARK SHADOWS: THE BEST OF BARNABAS...

JS Jesse Shanks

2 BROKE GIRLS...
DOWNTON ABBEY SEASONS ONE & TWO LIMITED EDITION...
FLORENCE AND THE SPIRIT OF THE RENAISSANCE...
NAZI COLLABORATORS...
KATT WILLIAMS: KATTPACALYPSE...

RJ Ross Johnson

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP (BLU-RAY)...
PURPLE NOON (BLU-RAY)...
WEEKEND (BLU-RAY)...
JUAN OF THE DEAD...
THE DEVIL'S NEEDLE AND OTHER TALES OF VICE AND REDEMPTI...

JD Jon Danziger

SUNSET BOULEVARD...
SALO, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM...
TABLOID...
CUL-DE-SAC...
3 WOMEN...

JC Joel Cunningham

YOJIMBO/SANJURO...
SUMMER HOURS (L'heure d'ÈtÈ)...
WIZARD OF OZ...
WINGS OF DESIRE...
HORTON HEARS A WHO!...

DH Dan Heaton

REVANCHE...
LAST DAYS OF DISCO...
NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS...
STARGATE SG-1: CHILDREN OF THE GODS...
STARGATE ATLANTIS: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON...

MS Matt Serafini

THE STEPFATHER...
THE HILLS RUN RED...
MANAGEMENT...
NIGHT OF DEATH...
GNAW...

KC Kevin Clemons

Freddy Got Fingered...

JU Jeff Ulmer

Secure The Second Season of The Border on DVD August 25...
THE WALTONS: THE COMPLETE 9TH SEASON...
Dance Me Outside kicks onto DVD May 6, 2008...

DD Dale Dobson

Film-Fest 4: Sundance 2000 & Hawaii...

RM Robert Mandel

Saving Private Ryan...

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif

DVD Review: WHITE ZOMBIE (BLU-RAY)



Studio: Kino
Year: 1932
Cast: Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, Robert Frazer, John Harron, Joseph Cawthorn, Brandon Hurst, George Burr MacAnnan, Clarence Muse
Director: Victor Halperin
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:08m:00s
Genre(s): horror

"I see...death!" - Madeline (Madge Bellamy)

WHITE ZOMBIE (BLU-RAY)

Buy Now @ Amazon

 
   

Kino may have committed a huge miscue with the rather grotesque digitally restored transfer offered here, but the film remains a classic in its own right. The superb commentary track from film historian Frank Thompson and the unrestored 'raw' print are reason enough to pick this up. Recommended (but certainly NOT for the primary transfer).

Movie Grade: B+

DVD Grade: B

In the pantheon of zombie films this is cited as the one where American audiences first heard the z-word uttered onscreen, in this case early on by Clarence Muse as a jittery coach driver. Any fan of the undead should really be aware of that, because from an historical perspective White Zombie is the film that unlocked the door for an entire sub-genre of film horror to come. This independently produced project, made in 1932 by Victor and Edward Halperin, is also notable for a lead role from a post-1931 Dracula Bela Lugosi as the mysterious Legendre, an evil character with who has harnessed the ability to resurrect the dead to "work the sugar mills and fields at night" in Haiti.

The heart of White Zombie is an unrequited love story gone horribly wrong, as Haitian plantation owner Charles Beaumont (Robert Frazer) takes a fancy to doe-eyed Madeline (Madge Bellamy), despite the fact she is about to be married to Neal Parker (John Harron). Beaumont makes a deal with the devil to win the hand of Madeline, but in this instance the devil is Lugosi's Legendre and his all-powerful zombie potion. It gives the effect of killing Madeline, but when Beaumont retrieves her from her crypt she is not the same joyful woman he initially desired, instead she has a blank visage and "empty, staring eyes". But that's only part of Beaumont's problems because Legendre has other plans, while shell-shocked Neal (believing his beloved is dead) pairs up with kindly Dr.Bruner (Joseph Cawthorn) to somehow uncover the truth.

Without question much credit must go to director Victor Halperin for the way White Zombie is constructed, filled with subtle camera movement and beautiful shadows (though much of the impact of that has been mangled by the overly DNR'd transfer). Take note of a scene between Neal and Dr.Bruner - consider it the obligatory expository dialogue sequence that explains zombie basics. It begins as a shot of a seated Bruner framed in the space between Neal's arm and body, who is standing in the foreground leaning on a desk. Halperin moves the camera slowly to create a full body two-shot, as the actors also move around the room speaking to one another, creating a long single take sequence - complete with a dialogue stumble from Joseph Cawthorn - that visually ends just as it began. It's a complicated shot presented unobtrusively, and it shows a director pushing himself creatively.

What makes White Zombie such a forward-thinking film - especially for 1932 - is the way it treats the subject material, presenting Haitian myths and zombie lore with a level of frankness and honesty that lend the story a wonderfully creepy heft. We don't have to know what is in Legendre's zombie potion because the Halperins have immersed viewers in some of the unknown corners of Haitian culture, introducing concepts that at the time must have been even incredibly disturbing to audiences. As Neal and Dr. Bruner inch closer to revelations about zombies we too are learning, and while many elements of White Zombie are understandably dated there remains an unmistakable and eerie undertone to the entire film.

IMAGE/AUDIO
Sometimes the best of intentions can go horribly awry, and that's the case with the new digitally restored version presented here. It may have been culled from a 35mm fine grain master (and in a few instances a 16mm print), but the technical process of the actual restoration has rendered the finished product an overly enhanced mess, one that has been subjected to such extreme and unnatural levels of noise reduction that any sense of detail or film grain has been completely scrubbed away. Sure, the new print is clean - in terms of removal of age-related damage - but at a far greater cost where image quality is concerned. Edges are horrifically soft, almost as if looking through a gauze veil at times, and it dilutes the use of shadow to confounding levels of blandness. Kino's inclusion of a "raw" unrestored print as an extra (see below) is something of a saving grace.

Things aren't so grim on the audio side, with a serviceable uncompressed PCM 2.0 mono track delivering generally clear dialogue, though an abundance of age-related hiss remains unavoidable. The absence of a subtitle track - a curious omission, to say the least - is regrettable and would have come in handy a few times.

EXTRAS
Supplemental material begins with a commentary track from film historian Frank Thompson. It's clear Thompson knows the subject well, and the content is consistently informative without being dry. His presentation is amicable and there's a wealth of production background and discussion of the film's place in zombie-file history. I came away from this track with an even deeper appreciation of White Zombie, and that occurs so rarely with most commentaries that it deserves mentioning. Well done, Frank!

Also included - and certainly as worthwhile as the commentary - is the White Zombie (Raw) version, which is essentially an unenhanced transfer mastered from the same 35mm negative used for the featured restored version. This full-length cut has some age-related print damage but there is a definite sense that this is the way the film should look, with deeper blacks and an excellent sense of contrast balance. I'm glad Kino has included this version of White Zombie here, I'm just disheartened that it is considered an "extra".

The remaining extras include a campy Bela Lugosi Interview (06m:51s) that was an installment of the Intimate Interviews series hosted by Dorothy West, a gallery of publicity stills (black-and-white and color-tinted) and a White Zombie theatrical trailer from its 1951 re-issue.

Posted by: Rich Rosell - February 17, 2013, 8:55 am - DVD Review
Keywords: bela lugosi, zombies




Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

celebrity, joan rivers, comedian, cardiac arrest, mount sinai hospital, 81 years old, horror, television, full house, revival, john stamos, candace cameron bure, jody sweetin, andrea barber, bob saget, dave coulier, movie, pierce brosnan, the november man, luke bracey, james bond, olga kurylenko, roger donaldson, kids, drama, music, justin timberlake, iceland, 90 minutes, korinn auditorium, shake your body, take back the night, box office, movies, movies. richard attenborough, actor, director, brighton rock, gandhi, oh what a lovely war, jurassic park. in which we serve, comedy, simpsons, marathon, fxx, itchy & scratchy & marge, miley cyrus, dominican republic, banned, moral grounds, wrecking ball, sports, little league baseball, mo'ne davis, taney dragons, las vegas team, 2014 emmy awards, billy crystal, father's day, don mischer, sin city: a dame to kill for, mickey rourke, josh brolin, jessica alba, nicki minaj, anaconda video, drake, twerking, lapdance, teenage mutant ninja turtles, guardians of the galaxy, megan fox, will arnett, whoopi goldberg, beyonce knowles, jay-z, hbo, on the run tour, clip, bang bang (my baby shot me down), sonny bono, 1966, tiburon ca, mara buxbaum, susan schneider, robin williams, hazelden addiction treatment center, aladdin, happy feet, robots, fern gully.

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

earth mosaics

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact