Not all zombie movies are going to be winners, and I realize that as I continue to explore the dark recesses of DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies book, and its chapter on zombies.
This feature from 1943 is too short (and still feels too long) and doesn’t have a lot going for it, despite the fact that it stars John Carradine as an ex-Nazi mad scientist who has perfected the formula for the creation of the living dead!!
Course it doesn’t help that there are racial stereotypes playing out throughout the film with Von Altermann’s (Carradine) servants, both living and undead.
Scott Warrington (Mauritz Hugo) and a detective he has hired, Larry Adams (Robert Lowery) arrive in the Louisiana swamp to meet Altermann, Warrington’s brother-in-law, after he learns of his sister, Lila’s (Veda Ann Borg), demise.
The ex-Nazi is surprised to find that some of Lila’s will and intelligence has endured beyond the grave, and soon finds himself caught in a conflict for control of the zombie army he has created.
Running just short of an hour, this film doesn’t add much in the way to zombie lore, despite the fact that it actually has a lot to work with. zombies, intelligence after death, nazis… This could have been something. Instead it feels like a clickbait headline that promises a lot but never really pays off.
The racism, the lack of real story, and the fact that even the zombies seem bored, makes this a film really hard to redeem, and you can see how it would quickly be relegated to late night broadcasts and easily forgotten.
Oh well. Even Carradine, who can be exceptional at times, doesn’t seem to know what to do with his role, which is too bad, because there could have been lots of scene-chewing and mad scientist hoopla.
Like I said they can’t all be winners, and it doesn’t change the fact that it has been a true delight to continue to work my way through DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies. And who knows maybe the next title will be better. There are lots of zombie titles out there to explore, so of course there are going to be some clunkers…
But let’s keep exploring shall we? Pick up a copy of Monsters in the Movies and find something macabre to watch tonight, and make sure you protect yourself from the forces of darkness…