Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Eyes Have It


I used to have a late night television recording of White Zombie (1932) on a beat up VHS tape, and perhaps I still do, boxed up and put away. Admittedly I kind of woke up to the film this morning in a bit of half-sleep, needing to claw my way out of it somehow. I remember watching this purposely late at night to truly glean from the dark the film's true effective spooky presence. The forces of the film's atmosphere, its antagonist using his voodoo magic to control, and the eyes of Lugosi as he clinches his hands into an intense grip offer up enough delights to counteract its less interesting aspects, such as the bland characters and Haitian voodoo slave sugar cane labor plot, which could be seen as more than a bit ridiculous. It's all in the presentation, I think. The zombies themselves, their lifeless expressions, the under-control young woman Murder Legendre keeps in a trance as she remains mentally lost until it can be broken by the man that loves her, and the plantation owner who enters a dastardly partnership with the voodoo master to have the girl for himself. And love, even as the dark forces press on her to kill the man she was supposed to marry, finds a way through, penetrating Murder's magic.





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