Date: Sun, 16 Jul 1995 21:28:23 -0700 (PDT)
From: Bob Corbett <email@example.com>
Subject: H36: Hollywood-type Zombie films
In going through some files I happened upon this paper by one of my
students from a few years back. It is an interesting catalogue of
Zombie movies. Certainly Hollywood has played a role in creating a
popular image in the U.S. which haunts the words
haunting that leads some scholars to abandon those words all together and
use different spellings. I've avoided those solutions and prefer to
simply confront the misconceptions.
Regarding the whole notion of misperceptions of Haiti in our culture, in case you don't know of Robert Lawless' book, Haiti's Bad Press, it is a book you might well want to read. He tells a sad tale of misinformation, much of it delibertate, much of it just bad journalism and scholarship.
In addition, I noted in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch
that a film is playing in town called DEMON KNIGHT, which is billed
by a local reviewer as
A lame zombie tale with pretty good
Lisa's notes are at the end of the paper.
Director: John Carpenter, 1980. This movie is on video and has a running time of 91 min.
Eighteenth Century pirates come back from the dead to terrorize a fishing village. As the fog moves in, the people roll out dead. (2, p. 686) I have seen this one for myself, and it is not too bad.
Now we understand each other a little better, says Bela Lugosi, as he turns his rival into one of his eerie slaves. This, by no means, is one of his more well-known lines from a movie; but after seeing this film, I am convinced that it has to be one of his most sinister quotes. Lugosi plays the evil overseer of a sugarmill, who turns his workers into zombies to do his dirty work. White Zombie is a wonderful low-budget flick, with wonderful background settings that add to the eeriness of the film. For the most part, the zombies are mindless creatures that would not have hurt anybody, if it had not been for Lugosi. So, they really do not add to any of the misconceptions that Americans have about Voodoo. The few Haitians we do see in the film are burying one of their dead. None of them ate depicted as being evil. The real big
misconceptionin the film is a carved Voodoo doll. I am under the impression that they do not exist. As one last note on the film; the way that Lugosi turned his victims into zombies, was to give them a special powder that would feign death. He would then go and get the body, giving it another concoction. Perhaps Victor Halperin was Wade Davis'
Praying for church, says Johnny. Immediately you think to yourself,
you better pray.Johnny and Barbara, in the opening scene, are in the family cemetery putting flowers on the grave of their deceased father. Johnny's next line,
They're coming for you Barbara, is his last. He is intending to be teasing his sister about being in the graveyard, but what he does not realize, is that they really are coming to get her. After her brother gets killed by the Zombie, the girl runs off to an abandoned farm house, thus beginning her fight with the man-eating corpses.
As the movie progresses, six other people enter the farmhouse to get away
from, what the news reports call,
unidentified assassins. This movie is
jam-packed with stiff walking dead and the stereotypical screaming woman.
The ending of the movie, I think, was supposed to be a social statement
by George Romeo. (Willey)
A government made chemical somehow gets into the air and brings the dead
back to life. The effects are horrible, and unless you are a connoisseur
it is hard to even sit through the whole hour and a half. Brook Turner.
This was basically the same idea (as the return of the living dead)
except in a more modern setting. The tanks containing some of the bodies
of the living dead are now in a medical supply warehouse. The foreman is
telling the story behind the living dead and asks if the boy wants to see
the tanks. To make a long story short, the man hits the tank and it
begins to leak the gas. Suddenly things begin to come alive in the
warehouse including a cadaver. The gas leaks out into the graveyard and
all of a sudden there is an angry mob of the living wanting
In the legends of Voodoo, the serpent is a symbol of Earth, the rainbow is a symbol of heaven. Between the two, all creatures live and die. But because he has a goal, man can be trapped in a terrible place, where death is only the beginning.
I thought it pertinent to add this quote in my review, because from what I have learned, the concept was distorted. Distortion is probably the best word to describe the whole movie that this quote was taken from. The Serpent and The Rainbow is based on the Wade Davis book of the same title. From what I understand of what was taught to me, his account of Haiti is somewhat distorted as well. Hollywood, as everyone knows, has it's own little problem with distortion. So, the movie version is even less credible than Davis' book. Let's return to the quote, after all it's the first problem I saw in the movie. The serpent is probably a reference to the loa, Dumballah. He is, if anything, more of a father figure than an Earth figure. The Earth is a cruel place, and Dumballah is thought of as a protector. The Rainbow is probably a reference to Ayida, his wife. She is not the symbol of heaven, because the Haitians do not believe in Heaven, but the spirit world. Together they are the forces of human sexuality.
Basically, the movie is about an American scientist who goes to Haiti to find the powders that create zombies. For the most part, if one knows nothing about Haiti, this film would be rather hard. One should have some knowledge of the Duvaliers, the Ton Ton Macoute, and Houngans. (Willey)
In this movie a bokor name Makoute goes around killing the Haitian
migrant workers in a southern town. He then makes them into zombies and
has them work in his fields. He then gets this idea to make a zombie
man. He begins to gather bits and pieces of people to make up the man.
When all is finally complete, Makoute slashes his wrist and lets the
blood drip into the zombie man's mouth. In the meantime, the migrant
workers, led by a mambo, decide to kill Makoute. They surround his house
and when he comes out they attack him and get a piece of his clothing and
use it for a Voodoo doll. With this doll, the Mambo kills Makoute and
they burn his body. All seems to be well except for by this time the
Voodoo man had come to life and was not very happy to see his master a
clump of ashes. After a long battle between the Voodoo man and the hero,
the Voodoo man loses his head, literally, and dies. However, for the
grand finale, this demon thing looking like it came straight out of
Aliens bursts out of the Voodoo man's stomach and tries to eat the
hero. But the hero kills the demon thing too. So the hero and the
pretty girl live happily ever after.
It takes place in a boarding school where the students are given a sort
of lobotomy to turn the students into zombies. The professors, who are
behind the operations, are taking tissue from the students' brains and
replacing them with quartz crystals. With the tissue that is taken from
the brain, the professors make a serum that will give them everlasting
life, while the students remain zombies in a cheesy B rated flick.
Strait to video. Never in theaters. In this movie you do not even see
the zombies, they do all the killing behind the scenes. The plot is a
group of tourists who go to the islands and watch a Voodoo service.
During the service a lamb is sacrificed and the tourists are disgusted.
When they reach the tour bus to leave it is broken down, what a
coincidence. The tourists then decide to walk through a jungle towards a
house they had seen earlier. Much to their surprise, they end up being
picked off one by one by the zombies that you never see. It had horrible
acting and special effects. Brooke Turner.
Zombie Nightmare. A man is killed by some teenagers while trying to prevent a rape after a baseball game. His widow, while in deep mourning, calls for a houngan to reanimate her husband (whose name happens to be Thor) so that he may avenge his death. After Thor is brought back to life as a zombie, he goes around killing people with a baseball bat. This went directly to video, and never to the theaters. Brooke Turner.