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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Before we get through with this thing we may uncover sins that even the Devil would be ashamed of."
NB: As is Amazon's Wont, they've very unhelpfully bundled all the reviews for various editions and formats together. This review refers to Kino's 2013 Blu-ray release and also refers to the Roan Group's NTSC DVD.

At times superbly directed by Victor Halperin with imaginative use of shadows and light and blessed with what may well be Bela Lugosi's best screen...
Published 16 months ago by Trevor Willsmer

versus
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Truly Horrific !
Firstly , I would agree with the two previous reviews with regard to the film , Bela Lugosi on top form & should be seen by any fan of horror movies .

Unfortunately the quality of this DVD means only one star , just guessing but I think the master this was transferred from was a thirty year old tape from a home VHS in a dodgy reception area . Horrible glaring...
Published on 11 Dec 2008 by adam3835


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Before we get through with this thing we may uncover sins that even the Devil would be ashamed of.", 24 Feb 2013
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
NB: As is Amazon's Wont, they've very unhelpfully bundled all the reviews for various editions and formats together. This review refers to Kino's 2013 Blu-ray release and also refers to the Roan Group's NTSC DVD.

At times superbly directed by Victor Halperin with imaginative use of shadows and light and blessed with what may well be Bela Lugosi's best screen performance as the wonderfully named Murder Legendre, White Zombie, although a bit creaky in places, is still one of the very best of the Thirties cycle of horror films that followed Universal's success with Lugosi's Dracula and Frankenstein the previous year. While most of the supporting players are a bit insipid, to put it generously, Bela has more than enough personality to make up for them as the sorcerer who turns his worst enemies into mindless zombies to serve his whims and who hires out his expertise to lovesick plantation owner and Harry Houdini-lookalike Robert Frazer to steal Madge Bellamy from her true love John Harron, only to decide he'd rather like to add her to his own collection.

It's a film full of wonderfully atmospheric moments, from its opening with a midnight burial at a crossroads which sets the eerie tone for the rest of the film to its climax in a gothic cliff top mansion inhabited solely by Lugosi and his living dead slaves. Then there's Legendre taking the scarf from Bellamy's neck as her carriage rides away, his zombie workforce not even noticing when one of their number falls into a mill grindstone to meet an unnaturally silent death or a distraught husband going mad as the shadows of happy revellers dance on the bar-room wall behind him and visions of his `dead' wife beckon him on, while the lovelorn colonist's fate worse than death and the horrific (offscreen) death of his butler are memorably unnerving. It's a fascinating mixture of the dreamlike and the overly theatrical, at times showing its rushed 11 day shooting schedule with a fluffed line or an awkward bit of timing from the cast only to come up with a genuinely striking moment like the surprisingly underplayed scene between Lugosi and the first of his victims to realise what is happening to him while powerless to stop it or a doom-laden atmosphere that more than compensates as its characters destroy each other in the pursuit of what they think is love. It won't give you many nightmares but it will keep you watching.

Sadly only available in a cut reissue print after a notorious rights battle led to the uncut version literally disintegrating before it could be restored, it's long suffered from a succession of poor public domain copies, the best of which was the Roan Group's NTSC version. Kino's new Blu-ray version isn't quite the huge leap forward hoped for, curiously offering two versions of the 67-minute version on one disc. The default version is a digitally restored version that, unusually for the label, has gone through a lot of tinkering and DNR work that cleans up all the blemishes and brightens up the image in places but also removes most traces of film grain to give it a different texture that's not always pleasing. Thankfully they've also included the `raw' non-digitally restored version of the film taken from a 35mm print, albeit hidden away in the extra features, and this looks a lot better despite the occasional scratches and suitably darker image. Both versions have the same running time, with a slight difference in the `restored' version accounted for by the addition of logos and restoration credits, and both have the same missing frames and odd skipped bits of dialogue, though these are more minor irritants than the major problems with other releases of the film.

The extras package is rather smaller than the Roan Group version, losing the Ship's Reporter interview with Lugosi returning from shooting Old Mother Riley Meets the Vampire (in which "I mayk komady by scaring evaryvun arownd me") but carrying over the 1932 short Intimate Interview with Bela Lugosi playing up his newfound success in Hollywood and the 1951 reissue trailer narrated with typically stilted melodrama by Criswell, replacing the previous audio commentary by Gary Don Rhodes with a new one by Frank Thompson and including a rather good stills gallery of hand-colored lobby cards.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Roan is the best available print., 29 Oct 2012
By 
Adrian Drew (UK) - See all my reviews
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Amazon have done it again, they have lumped together all the reviews for the different versions of this film! However, the one presently on offer from Roan is the best image although the sound is very problematic. Still, with so many bad prints available of this little classic it's good to have this "restoration" from a few years back of this imaginative and atmospheric period shocker. ironically though, the recent blu ray compilation of 18 horror movies in SD format on one disc, has a clearer soundtrack than this. To be frank my favourite Lugosi is "Dark Eyes of London" but this and Dracula ( in the new blu ray transfer) rank high on my list of his "finest moments".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like hearing it for the first time!, 15 Jan 2012
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There's something weird about 'White Zombie' (1932),...it seems to exert a strange fascination on some people. And having now bought four different WZ DVD's, and also the rather expensive, 360 page hardcover, trivia filled book 'White Zombie: Anatomy of a Horror Film' I think I can safely say I'm most definitely one of them! I wanted this one (the 'Screen Edge') because I really like the cover artwork, but I was fully expecting it to be yet another barely watchable 'public domain' print, like most of the other WZ DVD's released to date. However, on comparing the 'Screen Edge' with the 'Roan' release (which is the benchmark 'restored' version), the SE compares really quite favourably....And in some respects it's actually superior:

The 'Screen Edge' DVD features an on-screen menu with a nine chapter scene selection and a three page (six paragraphs) WZ film synopsis and short history. There are also three movie stills.

Picture quality:
The print is quite soft, and this 'Vaseline smeared on the lens effect' seems more apparent in the movie's long distance shots. However, I wouldn't say it was overly excessive or too blurry: for instance, the copyright 'small print' text that appears at the bottom of the opening credits screen is quite legible, which is more than you can say for some WZ transfers. Film damage, dirt, marks and scratches are evident in certain sections of the movie, but again, not too excessive or distracting. It has decent contrast too; not too dark, which is a criticism sometimes levelled at the 'Roan' transfer. All in all, a very watchable print, which, image-wise kinda reminds me of Carl Dreyer's Vampyr. I'd score it a '6' or maybe '6.5' out of '10' (I'd give the 'Roan' an '8.5').

Sound quality:
This is where the 'Screen Edge' really has the 'Roan' (and probably all other versions) beat all ends up....Aurally, this print is positively hi-fi in comparison! I honestly think it has the cleanest, clearest soundtrack of any WZ released to date: Background hiss, rumbles and pops are absolutely minimal, and it has none of the 'listening to it underwater' effect that so blights the 'Roan' version....You can even hear the crickets chirping during the dialogue!

Cuts, splices & running time:
Strange this....According to the timer on my Sony blu-ray player, the 'Roan' clocks in with a running time of 1: 06: 52, while the 'Screen Edge' runs for 1: 04: 37. Yet I can't find evidence of any cuts in the SE whatsoever. In fact, it seems to be more complete: for instance, a dialogue scene with Beaumont and his butler, Silver, which has a couple of nasty jump-cuts in the Roan transfer, is complete in the SE. It also has the final note of music from the movie's end that's totally missing in the 'Roan'. I suppose the only really accurate way to compare running times would be to run both films from start to finish and timing them from an outside source, but I'm trying hard not to become THAT obsessed.

IMHO, Although the 'Roan' is a definite must have for its outstanding picture quality and DVD extras,...the SE's very acceptable transfer, put together with its most excellent sound quality, gives the 'Roan' a serious run for its money in terms of overall viewing pleasure.

Why not become yet another WZ nutter, and buy both?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of a kind!, 7 July 2007
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This review is from: White Zombie [1932] [DVD] (DVD)
Within a year of becoming the screen's first and still-best Dracula, Bela Lugosi was starring in this "epic" for The Halperin Brothers. Don't ask who they were-long ago forgotten!!

So is this film, and that's one mistake you can swiftly rectify by buying it. You won't find another quite like it.

Only 5 years after sound films had started I know, but there are some fairly wobbly bits of recording. As for the soundtrack, that is even scratchier, off 78's!

But this only adds to the atmosphere. The eerie, low-lit photography is quite astounding and completely at one with the studio backdrops. God knows where Haiti was actually recreated, but it's convincingly chilling even if it was Poverty Row, LA!

The soundtrack is actually parts of Schubert's Unfinished symphony, parts of other half-recognisable classical pieces, plus a bit of refrains or variations based on what's gone before. In any other context, you'd probably rush to sell it on e-bay or here, but it really is compelling stuff alongside Bela!

And it is Mr Lugosi who makes it, finally. All I will say is that the hero is daft enough to put into Port-au-Prince with his fiancee to stay with another single bloke they met on the boat to New York, and his fiancee is daft enough to stand around in her underwear by the shuttered window listening to native drums!

That is quite enough encouragement for Murder Legendre,sugar-mill owner and interesting second occupation, to run amok. And Bela Lugosi was never better than when he did that.

Well, this film really is an one-off. It's stood repeated viewings on VHS and is now doing the same on DVD. It's a real treasure, and a compelling entertainment.

All I can finally do, to encourage a purchase(I'm not selling it, by the way!)is to quote Mr Lugosi's final words:-

"For you, my frend, they are the Angels of Death"

So now you know where that came from,too!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bela Lugosi in the world's very first ZOMBIE flick, 23 Jun 2004
By 
Lawrance M. Bernabo (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
In many ways this first zombie movie is the last film in the baroque horror tradition of the silent films. This 1932 film directed by Victor Halperin was made for practically nothing even though it starred Bela Lugosi as "Murder" Legendre, in his first role after making a smash in "Dracula." Lugosi, who apparently directed some of the retakes as well, plays the master of a different type of undead down in Haiti.
In "White Zombie," Monsieur Beaumont (Robert Frazer) convinces a young couple, Madeleine Short (Madge Bellamy) and Neil Parker (John Harron) to get married on his Haitian plantation. Amazingly enough, he does this so that he can convince Madeline to run away with him. Needing help, Beaumont turns to Legendre, who runs his mill with zombie workers. Beaumont uses Legendre's zombie potion to bend Madeleine to his will, but then is dissatisfied with her soulless husk and wants her turned back. Instead, Legendre turns Beaumont into a zombie as well. Meanwhile, Neil is convinced by a local priest that maybe he is not a widow after all.
"White Zombie" never really frightens its audience, but instead sustains a high level of downright eeriness throughout, achieving its effect by taking such simple objects as the scarf used to wrap a voodoo doll or a rose containing poison and making them important elements in Lugosi's evil machinations. This film might be a talkie, but its sensibilities are those of the silent era and since it begins the tradition of zombies in the movies that continues down to "Night of the Living Dead" and other light hearted fare makes it at least an interesting footnote in the history of horror films.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Truly Horrific !, 11 Dec 2008
This review is from: White Zombie [1932] [DVD] (DVD)
Firstly , I would agree with the two previous reviews with regard to the film , Bela Lugosi on top form & should be seen by any fan of horror movies .

Unfortunately the quality of this DVD means only one star , just guessing but I think the master this was transferred from was a thirty year old tape from a home VHS in a dodgy reception area . Horrible glaring picture with no detail whatsoever & constant , loud background noise......I really like this film but could only manage ten minutes before switching off !

I'm off to search Amazon for another version , maybe they have a remastered version for Region 1 ? This is cheap , but not a bargain - if you like this film , avoid this DVD !!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Expressionist style - don't expect gore, 5 Sep 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: White Zombie [1932] [DVD] (DVD)
This first Zombie movie (and early talkie)is obviously highly influenced by the German expressionist silent film style(compare e.g. 'The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari'). That means from todays point of view the acting looks quite hammy and the villain (Lugosi) is the only real 'character'. Apart from that this is a must-see. Marvelous camera work and an extremly eerie and creepy atmosphere. The scene in the sugar mill or that of the zombies coming down the hill after the credits alone are worth watching this movie. By the way, the 'magic' is quite rational - a combination of drugs and hypnosis (only the controlling without eye contact is humbug).The voodoo dolls seem to be more a psychological tool than actual wizardry.
So if you don't mind the old-fashioned acting style, give this movie a chance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Barely watchable, 24 Mar 2009
By 
S J Buck (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: White Zombie [1932] [DVD] (DVD)
This does have some interesting photography, and the lighting and make-up (for the time) is well done. However do not be tempted by this. As a previous reviewer has stated the quality of the film and soundtrack is very poor.

There is some truly awful acting in this. I have never rated Bela Lugosi as an actor. He did Dracula first and in my view that is all that merits mention. Boris Karloff was the real actor of the early horror film era. Here though the rest of the cast are so awful that Lugosi's 'solid oak' performance is by comparison quite decent.

Really this is a film for completists, so only buy if you are sure. In its favour it is only 65 minutes long, but if you really must own this film I'd wait for a remastered version.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid this release! (a2zcds.com), 20 Aug 2009
By 
Mr. T. Berriman "berriman_toby" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This is not a review of the movie, which has been well reviewed already elsewhere, but a review of this particular release by a2zcds[]

Avoid. At. All. Costs.

Suffering from some of the worst audio I have seen on ANY version of White Zombie, it is actually nigh impossible to follow anything being spoken on screen due to the loud buzzing and crackling that is present throughout the film (which naturally has a quiet soundtrack and poor audio anyway due to the nature of the original recording). Add to this the fact that someone seems to have run the entire visual stream of the movie through a "sharpen" filter with no real concept of what they're doing, you actually end up with worse image as well.

To top it off, the DVD disc itself is quite clearly a writable dvd spun off on someones computer with a printed paper label stuck (unevenly) on the top, then put in a standard off-the-shelf empty DVD case with a cover-card that doesn't fit. When I received my copy I immediately thought I'd been sold a bootleg, but no this really is the release from A2ZCDS.

I can't say much for the other Region 2 releases, but the american import Roan Group release Horror Classics, Vol. 1: White Zombie (1932) [DVD] [1933] [US Import] is generally considered to be the best quality available.

Since this movie is also in the public domain, those of you so inspired can also find versions of it legally online.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best White Zombie you can get., 9 July 2009
The Roan Group's White Zombie... probably the best White Zombie in the world.
That about sums it up. This is as good as it gets when it comes to picture and sound quality. The picture is crisp and clear, and the sound is OK. A bit muddy sometimes. But since the original tapes are lost, this is it if you want to see one of horror's true classics.

Bela Lugosi shines as the evil zombie master in this voodoo and black magic classic. Maybe lacking in pace here and there, but every scene with Lugosi is pure (black) magic.

The extras are fun as well. Two short interview clips with Bela. Real gems.
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White Zombie [DVD]
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