Sunday, November 28, 2010

Revolt of the Zombies (1936)

Four years after completing White Zombie, the genius team came up with a sequel: Revolt of the Zombies. Instead of Voodoo zombies in Haiti, we have Buddhist zombies in Cambodia. Ah, a fresh take on things.

During the first world war a young army officer (Dean Jagger) tries to convince his superiors that an "oriental priest" can turn men into zombies to help with the war effort. The idea was poo-poo'd. A demonstration is in order.

The demonstration goes perhaps too well and the priest is arrested until he promises to divulge his secrets (Could spell the end of the white race!) He refuses and is murdered. A team is sent to Cambodia (apparently after the war, I think I missed that - YES, I was paying attention!) to find the secret of zombieism. Our hero leaves his post to go to Angkor to do some wildcat research, finds the secret, and is summarily fired before anyone will listen to him. Here is where the spoilers start.

In here we have a love triangle. Our hero has fallen in love with the General's daughter and she agreed to marry him, in hopes that it would make his best friend jealous. Works like a charm and and hero/patsy is left holding the bag. Hero is ditched and the lady and best friend become engaged. So, our Hero takes a page out of his friend and lady friend's playbook and decides he must be ruthless to get what he wants, and he wants that mediocre looking General's daughter back. I wonder if the power to turn men into zombies would come in handy?

In short, Jagger turns just about EVERYBODY into zombies and lords over them like a spoiled schoolboy. His love agrees to marry him if her true love is allowed to return to America unharmed. Then she starts with the head games, just like a woman.

"If you truly loved me, you'd release your control of everybody ...", Blah, blah, blah. wimin! Never satisfied! So, like a dork, he releases his control of the entire supporting cast and extras, who are none-too-pleased with him at this point. He's thinking he has won her true love, but instead every minor character comes crashing through the door to kill him. Roll credits.

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways. The sets were uninteresting, the acting not good enough, the heroine, meh, and the story muddled and confused. However, at 65 minutes, it was almost short enough. Unlike White Zombie, the flaws swallow this movie whole.

Unlike many bad movies, this one could not have been fixed. The setting, story, and dialog would have to be redone. The only thing I would keep from this production is the name. It is by far the best part. What's the deal with making the hero the villain? There was a perfectly good villain character! He wore black, murdered a priest, and had a great menacing look. Before he could get going, bam, killed by a zombie! Sounds like a last minute rewrite to me.

Some argued that this was not zombieism but just mind control (figurative zombies), but in fact they are one in the same. Zombies, pre-Romero, are mindless servants, not undead ghouls. Here they were also referred to as "robots". There were no hint that anyone thought the zombies were dead, and that might be the missing part. Close enough for me.

I'm giving this forgettable film an AMRU of 2.5 and before anyone complains, allow me to explain. While every part of this movie was sub-standard (at best), it wasn't painful to watch. Maybe I'm splitting hairs, but whatever. This is what I rated it. Can't take it back.

Revolt isn't available via Netflix streaming and I'll be damned if I wait for a CD of THIS movie. I watched it off my TreeLine collection, but you can watch it here.

What's next in my Zombie-a-thon? Not sure. I'll ask around the blogosphere. According to IMDB, it's The Ghost Breakers, a Bob Hope comedy. Meh.

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