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DVD Shopping Bag: White Zombie Blu-ray

The latest release from Kino Classics

By Robert T. Trate     January 29, 2013
Source: Mania.com

It is funny how watching one movie can open your eyes to so many others. When I first watched Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, I knew only of Bela Lugosi’s work in the Universal Monster Classics. That’s no small list of films, but I really hadn’t seen the likes of Bride of the Atom, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Glen or Glenda, or even White Zombie. In my incessant need to see more of Lugosi’s films, I have seen some some real stinkers. Yet, despite their lack of quality, I have always been sucked in by Lugosi’s performance. It might have something to do with Martin Landau’s performance in Ed Wood. He made the man on screen very human and very sympathetic. I never miss a Lugosi picture if I have the chance to see one. 


I recently learned that Kino Classics (see official site here) was re-releasing White Zombie on Blu-ray. It was to be fully remastered in 1080p, a treatment that Universal Studios recently gave its original monster classics (see column here). Now it had been years since I had seen White Zombie. I rented it in my old video store clerk days. It was a terrible transfer and the box lacked any imagination. It was just a picture of Lugosi surrounded by a gold frame, the same type of VHS tape you could get at Suncoast Video for $1.99. I had noticed a lot of the Kino Classics releases lately, but I had been shy on purchasing one. I took a chance on White Zombie and was pleasantly surprised. 


So, what is Lugosi’s White Zombie about? Set in Haiti, it features a young couple Neil Parker (John Harron) and Madeline Short (Madge Bellamy) as they arrive on the island. They are guests of Charles Beaumont (Robert Frazer) who wants to them to get married on his plantation. It is a ruse, of course, as Beaumont has his eyes set on Madeline and asks a Witch Doctor, Legendre (Bela Lugosi) to help him out. The deal is an odd one as Legendre puts Madeline under a spell to reduce her to the state of death. Neil will then bury her and move on with Beaumont raising her up a little while later. Beaumont clearly has made a deal with the devil as Legendre wants more than just a Zombie Madeline. He is after Beaumont as well. 


The film is far from perfect. As audience members, we are never really given enough history about Neil and Madeline’s relationship. They are engaged, love each other and, apparently, that is to be enough. Neil doesn’t really piece it all together until it is way too late and really isn’t a hero we care about. So why watch then? Like I said before, it all about Lugosi. He has a commanding presence. He was an actor that was far beyond a film like White Zombie, yet he makes the most of his role. It’s an odd comparison, but I found myself rooting for Legendre much like I would root for Freddy Kruger or Jason Voorhies. Why? Well, I’ll see Lugosi again in the next film. The likes of John Harron, Robert Frazer, and Madge Bellamy are trivia questions, at best. 


I rarely mention the box or the package design here in my column, but Kino Classics got it right. A retro new take featuring Lugosi’s eyes and hands from the film are featured on the cover. The back contains a classic black and white photo of Lugosi as Legendre. There is also an original poster and lobby card featured on the back as well. For those of us that love our retro films with a modern sensibility, it also has pays homage to what has come before. Kino Classics nails it!


The transfer of this 1932 classic is mastered in HD from the 35mm fine grain master. Now, in no way does that means it is perfect. It doesn’t have to be. I just want to be able to see the characters that lurk in the dark shadows and hear the dialogue over the snap, crackle, and pop of the old dialogue track. Kino Classics delivers a film from another era that modern viewers will both appreciate and marvel at. To allow you to fully understand all that Kino Classics has restored, they have included the raw unenhanced version of the film as well. Bravo, Kino! This is something that I wish companies like Shout! Factory would do in their restoration of the Roger Corman Library. It allows us to see the difference, yet gives us that movie house 35mm version to watch as well. It a strange duality many of us film aficionados possess. We want our cleaned up restored 1080p Blu-ray, but we’ll scream if we can’t see the film in 35mm, too. This is the perfect combination. 


Now, I have to return to White Zombie starring Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, and a bunch of other people... 

Top 5 Picks of the Week:

1. White Zombie: Kino Classics' Remastered Edition [Blu-ray]
2. 
Best of Warner Bros 50 Film Collection [Blu-ray]
3. 
Seven Psychopaths (+UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]
4. 
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 [Blu-ray]
5. 
Gorgan Vs The Flying Spider (1966)

 

ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS

All Superheroes Must Die [Blu-ray] Starring James Remar, Lucas Till and Jason Trost

All Superheroes Must Die Starring James Remar, Lucas Till and Jason Trost

Bangkok Assassins Starring Abid, Kefi Adwen, Arak Amornsupasiri and Paiboon Anansuwan

Cold Light of Day Starring Henry Cavill, Sigourney Weaver and Bruce Willis

Cold Light of Day [Blu-ray] Starring Henry Cavill and Sigourney Weaver

Chino Starring Charles Bronson, Vincent Van Patten and Jill Ireland

Citadel Starring James Cosmo and Aneurin Barnard

Citadel [Blu-ray] Starring James Cosmo and Aneurin Barnard

Die Hard [Blu-ray]

Die Hard 2: Die Harder [Blu-ray]

Die Hard 3: Die Hard With a Vengeance [Blu-ray]

Live Free Or Die Hard [Blu-ray]

The Duellists [Blu-ray] Starring Keith Carradine, Harvey Keitel, Albert Finney

Liability Starring Jack O'Connell, Tim Roth, Peter Mullan

Scape Starring Ben Furmaniak, Ludwig Manukian and Adrian Colon

Seven Psychopaths (+UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray] Starring Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell

Seven Psychopaths (+UltraViolet Digital Copy) Starring Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell

The Right to Bear Arms Starring John Savage, Lionel Flynn, Tara Walker and Oliver Tuthill

ANIME

Baka & Test: Season Two (Limited Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo) Starring Alexis Tipton, Josh Grelle, Brina Palencia and Greg Ayres

Fate/Stay Night: Collection 1 [Blu-ray]

Inuyasha: Season 5

Inuyasha: Season 3

Inuyasha: Season 6

Inuyasha: Season 2 Box Set

Inuyasha: Season 7

Inuyasha: Season 4 (2013)

Naruto Shippuden: Set 13 (ep.154-166)

Shin Chan: The Complete Third Season Starring Laura Bailey, Chuck Huber and Cynthia Cranz

CARTOONS

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 Starring Peter Weller, Michael Emerson, David Selby

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 [Blu-ray] Starring Peter Weller, Michael Emerson, David Selby

The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley: The Complete Series Starring Martin Short, Joe Flaherty, Catherine O'Hara

Hotel Transylvania (+ UltraViolet Digital Copy) Starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez

Hotel Transylvania (Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy) Starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez

Hotel Transylvania (Blu-ray / DVD + UltraViolet Digital Copy) Starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez

Madly Madagascar

Shorts International Presents: Oscar Winning Short Films [Blu-ray DVD Combo]

CLASSICS

Cast A Long Shadow Starring Audie Murphy, Terry Moore and John Dehner

Kit Carson Starring Ward Bond and Jon Hall

HORROR

The Awakening [Blu-ray] Starring Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton

The Awakening Starring Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton

Cherry Tree Lane Starring Rachel Blake, Tom Butcher and Jumayn Hunter

The Evil Dead 1 + 2 Starring Bruce Campbell

Midnight Movies Vol 9: Zombie Double Feature (Hell of the Living Dead/Nightmare City) Starring Hugo Stiglitz, Mel Ferrer and Margit Evelyn Newton

Midnight Movies Vol 10: Killer Critters Double Feature (Rats: Night of Terror/Venom) Starring Klaus Kinski, Oliver Reed, Sterling Hayden

Paranormal Activity 4: Unrated Edition/Rated Version (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy + UltraViolet) Starring Kathryn Newton, Katie Featherston, Alexondra Lee

Paranormal Activity 4: Unrated Edition Starring Kathryn Newton, Katie Featherston, Alexondra Lee

Pig / 1334 [Two-Disc Combo: Blu-ray & DVD] Starring Rozz Williams and James Hollan

White Zombie: Kino Classics' Remastered Edition [Blu-ray] Starring Bela Lugosi

SCIENCE FICTION / FANTASY

Flight of the Navigator [Blu-ray]

Gorgan Vs The Flying Spider (1966) Starring Hiro Mathews and Tommy Olgander

TV LAND

Bat Masterson Complete Season One

Bat Masterson Complete Season Two

Femme Fatales: The Complete First Season Starring Tanit Phoenix

In the Heat of the Night Complete Season One

Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey Season 3 DVD (Original U.K. Version) Starring Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Shirley Maclaine

Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey Season 3 [Blu-ray] (Original U.K. Version) Starring Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Shirley Maclaine

Pan Am - Season 01 Starring Christina Ricci, Kelli Garner and Michael Mosley

Sea Hunt Complete Season One

Sea Hunt Complete Season Two

Sea Hunt Complete Season Three

Sea Hunt Complete Season Four

Young Riders Complete Season One

Young Riders Complete Season Three

BOX SETS

Best of Warner Bros 50 Film Collection [Blu-ray] Starring Various

Best of Warner Bros 100 Film Collection Starring Various

Die Hard: 25th Anniversary Collection (Die Hard / Die Hard 2: Die Harder / Die Hard with a Vengeance / Live Free or Die Hard / Decoding Die Hard) [Blu-ray] Starring Bruce Willis, William Atherton, Paul Gleason

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 4 of 4
1 
monkeyfoot 1/29/2013 8:38:25 AM

I protest! This movie is discriminatory against zombies of other ethnic groups!

I haven't seen this Lugosi film yet but I'll have to make a point of it. I love all the old B&W genre movies like this. They were my first exposure to horror on Saturday afternoon TV and I have a fond place in my heart for them. Something about the early ones like Lugosi's Dracula that had little or no music  and only the crackle of old film to break the silence gets to me.

Rob, I'd love it if you did a story on one of my favorites: Svengali from1931 starring John Barrymore in a great performance. Based on a book, it's the story of a very creepy fellow who uses his Prof. X type psychic powers to control a beautiful young girl for his own moneymaking scheme.

And perhaps you might even know the answer to how a particular shot in it was done where Svengali psychically controls the girl and a great continuous shot is used that zooms out from a close-up of his face, through a window, and out into a minature set of the city. I've never seen an explanation of how that shot was done.  

RobertTrate 1/29/2013 12:10:45 PM

 I'll look into it Monkeyfoot. I'll try and watch it. Did you check IMDB for how that shot was done?

monkeyfoot 1/29/2013 12:47:50 PM

They don't really go into the technical details of that one shot on IMDB. Commenters only mention how cool it looks. I've asked various people with more camera and filming know-how than me and they only have guesses on how it was done. Nobody knows for sure. A large camera (back then) goes from an extreme close-up through what looks like the window of a minature building out onto a minature city set in one continuous motion. It would be easy with modern FX but I haven't a clue how this was done back then.

Since the movie is in public domain you can find it whole or in parts on youtube. If you want to see that scene search youtube for Svengali 5/10.

redhairs99 2/6/2013 7:27:45 AM

 No new Shopping Bag this week?

1 

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