Friday, November 23, 2007

The Cinema - "King of the Zombies" : Interesting Historical Document ...and Major Piece of Caca


King of the Zombies (1941) is a low-budget thriller with a threadbare plot about an evil German scientist on a Caribbean island with a whole mess of zombies at his disposal and a habit of kidnapping admirals.

Intelligence officer Bill, pilot Mac, and Bill's manservant Jeff fly off to investigate the admiral's disappearance, and get fooled into a crash landing 0n the doc's island.

The only reason to watch this is for the performance of Mantan Moreland, a vaudeville actor probably most widely known as Charlie Chan's chauffeur.

Here he transcends the condescending "scaredy Negro" stereotype and injects humor and dignity into the unflattering role. (I suspect he ad-libbed some of it, and the director was savvy enough to let it ride.)

So when he spots the old cook/voodoo priestess he asks the pretty young maid, "Who's that? Methuselah?"

And hypnotized by the evil doctor into thinking he is a zombie, he marches stiffly over to the others. "Move over, boys - I'm one of the gang now."


("Hup-two-three-four...Zombies, halt!")

The Jeff character, despite all the bug-eyed buffoonery expected of the role, is the only good guy who has any clue as to what's happening on the island at all. (Bill is too busy trying to make time with the inevitable young lady and Mac keeps sustaining head injuries.)

So King of the Zombies is an interesting historical piece.

It is also a piece of doo-doo, with nonsensical plot; some decent zombie action of the medium-fast, mostly- coordinated voodoo zombie type; a ludicrous voodoo ceremony; and lots of one-liners from Moreland.

And as such it deserves a solid two and a half coil rating.

two-coils.jpg half-coil.jpg

No comments: