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Date: Sun, 16 Jul 1995 21:28:23 -0700 (PDT)
From: Bob Corbett <bcorbett@crl.com>
Subject: H36: Hollywood-type Zombie films
Message-Id: <Pine.SUN.3.91.950716212800.24136W-100000@crl8.crl.com>

A Guide to Zombie Movies

By Lisa Willey, 17 December 1991

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 Voodoo and Zombie, a 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 special effects.

Lisa's notes are at the end of the paper.

  1. Astro Zombies
    Director: Ted Z. Mikels, 1967. This movie has a running time of 83 min., and is on video. There was not much said about this movie, except that John Carradine plays the monster. (1, p.51)
  2. Carnival of Souls
    Director: Detkliarvey, 1962. This is on video. A girl is haunted by a menacing figure, after almost drowning. The movie has wonderful photography. (1, p. 170; 2, p. 659)
  3. Dawn of the Dead
    Director: George Romeo, 1968. This movie is on video, with a running time of 140 min. Four people barricade themselves in a shopping mall to get away from man-eating zombies. This movie is packed with hard core blood and gore and is the sequel to Night of the Living Dead. (1, p.261; 2, p. 270)
  4. Day of the Dead
    Director: George Romero, 1985. This movie is on video, with a running time of 100 min. A female scientist is trapped in an army bunker with sexists. She tries to study the zombies, but the men want them destroyed. (1, p. 262)
  5. Dead Men Walk
    Director: Sam Newfield, 1943. This movie is on video and has a running time of 67 min. Two brothers, one good, one evil, battle in this flick. Includes Vampires and zombies as well. It is in black and white. (2, p. 671)
  6. The Fog
    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.

  7. White Zombie
    Director: Victor Halperin, 1932. This movie is on video and has a running time of 73 min. 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 misconception in 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' secret society. (Willey)
  8. King of the Zombies
    Director: Jean Yarborough, 194 1. This movie is on video and has a running time of 67 min. This is one of those mad scientist movies, only this time it adds Nazis on a tropical island. (2, p.709)
  9. Night of the Demons
    1983. This movie, unfortunately, is on video. Teenagers party in the wrong cemetery. (1, p.816)
  10. Night of the Living Dead
    Director: George Romeo, 1968. This movie is on video. 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.

  11. Night of the Zombies
    Director: Vincent Dawn, ?. This movie is on video. A very trashy movie with one long cannibal feast after another. (2, p.947)
  12. Plague of the Zombies
    Director: John Gilling, 1966. It is on video. This is a fairly intense story about a Voodoo cult in a Cornish village. Contains beautiful photography. (1, p.947)
  13. Return of the Living Dead - Director: Dan O'Bannon, 1985. This movie is on video and has a running time of 91 min. A spoof on George Romero's classic that consists of the dead rising after a chemical leak. These morbid creatures are after one thing: Brains! (1, p. 1008)

    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 brains.

  14. Return of the Living Dead II - Director: Ken Wiederhom, 1988. This movie is on video and has a running time of 89 min. The walking dead are once again in control and they want more brains! (2, p.800)
  15. Revenge of the Zombies
    Director: Steve Sekely, 1943. This is not on video. The running time is 61 min.
  16. Revolt of the Zombies
    Director: Victor Halpetin, 1936. This film is on video, with a running time 65 min. This project lacks the style of White Zombie. Cambodian troops are turned into zombies. (2, p.801)
  17. The Serpent and the Rainbow
    Director: Wes Craven, 1988. This project is on video, with a running time of 98 min. 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)

  18. 18. Shock waves
    Director: Ken Wiederhorn, 1975. Peter Cushing leads a brigade of Nazi zombies to power the 3 rd Reich's submarines. Watch it if you have to. Apparently, this movie is good for comic relief (1, p. 1095; 2, p.806)
  19. Dr. Terrors House of Horrors
    Director: Freddie Francis, 1965. A fortune-teller tells some terrible secrets. May or may not have zombies. This is on video, with a running time of 98 min.
  20. Voodoo Dawn
    Director: Steven Tierberg, 1990. Two college buddies visit a friend who is being turned into a zombie. (2, p.823)

    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. Brooke Turner.

  21. Voodoo Island
    Director: Reginald LeBorg, 1957. Boris Karloff is a business man who goes to investigate strange happenings in Haiti. Very boring. This is not on video. It does have a running time of 76 min.
  22. Voodoo Man
    Director: William Beaudine, 1944. Lugosi has a zombie wife who he tries to cure, by experimenting on other women. This is not on video. Running time is 62 min. (1, p. 1325)
  23. Voodoo Woman
    Director: Edward L. Cahn, 1957. Englishmen are turned into monsters. This little dud is not on video. The running time is 77 min. (1, p. 1325)
  24. I Walked With A Zombie
    Director: Jacques Toumeur, 1943. A doctor is sent to a Caribbean Island to treat someone's zombie wife. This movie, believe it or not, is adapted from Jane Eyre. This movie is on video, with a running time of 69 min. (2, p. 603)
  25. The Walking Dead
    Director: Michael Curtiz, 1936. Not on video.
  26. Zombie
    Director: Lucio Fulci, 1979. This little beauty is rated X for gore and nudity. The tale is about a mad scientist who creates zombies that can only be killed with a bullet through the brain. It is on video, with a running time of 91 min. (1, p. 1400; 2, p. 827)
  27. Zombies on Broadway
    Director: Gordon Douglas, 1945. This movie is on video, with a running time of 68 min. Two men search for a zombie act to use in their nightclub. (1, p. 1400)
  28. Zombie High
    1987. This dud is on video, with a running time of 93 min. An administration of a school lobotomizes it's students to keep themselves young. In England, this film is known as The School that Ate My Brain. (2, p.827)

    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. Brooke Turner.

  29. Zombie Island Massacre
    1984. This film is on video, with a running time of 95 min- Corpses come alive on a Caribbean island.

    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.

  30. The Zombies of Mora Tau
    Director: Edward L Cahn, 1957. This film is on video, with a running time of 70 min. All this does is show how dull movies were before Night of the Living Dead. (2, p.827)
  31. Zombies of the Stratosphere
    1958. It is not on video, but has a running time of 70 min. Leonard Nimoy plays a Martian who saves the day. ( 1, p. 1400)
  32. The Zombies of Sugar Hill
    1974. This film is not on video, but has a running time of 91 min. A woman tries to avenge her lover's death by conjuring black zombies. (2, p. 827)


  1. Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's T.V. Movies and Video Guide. Ed. Leonard Maltin. NY, New York: Signet, 1991.
  2. Martin, Mick and Porter, Marsha. Video Movie Guide. Ed. Ed Remitz. NY, New York: Ballantine Books, 1991.


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.