According to Merriam-Webster there are basically two types of Zombies by definition:
The first is defined as either:
A will-less and speechless human (as in voodoo belief and in fictional stories) held to have died and been supernaturally reanimated, or the supernatural power that according to voodoo belief may enter into and reanimate a dead body.The second is defined as:
A mixed drink made of several kinds of rum, liquor, and fruit juice.When I was in the Navy, during the Vietnam War, I had many visits by the Second definition, but this article is basically about the First. Although Hollywood always played with the concept even having Space Aliens create Cold War variations during the 1950's.
"White Zombie" is considered the first motion picture to deal with Zombies. The motion picture was released on July 28, 1932 and starred a perfectly cast Bela Lugosi.
Note how Bela was billed on the following poster.
Prior to being cast as "Dracula" in the Todd Browning 1931 version of the stage play that had starred Lugosi. He had already appeared in 48 motion pictures. Just prior to "White Zombie" Bela Lugosi was seen in Universal Picture's version of Edgar Allan Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue" from an adapted story by future director John Huston. After this picture Bela would be seen in Paramount Pictures 1932 "Island of Lost Souls" based upon the H.G. Wells novel "The Island of Dr. Moreau" and starring Charles Laughton in that role. That screenplay was written by Science Fiction author Philip Wylie. Who would write and publish in 1933 the classic novel "When Worlds Collide".
In this motion picture Bela Lugosi portrayed Voodoo master "Murder Legendre".
The original story and screenplay for "White Zombie" was by Garrett Weston. He would only have another twenty-six screen credits, mostly for formula stories, after moving to Paramount Studios. These included the detective series "Bulldog Drummond" and "B" Westerns based upon Zane Grey stories.
This feature came from producer Edward Halperin and his brother director Victor. The next movie for the brothers and writer Weston was 1933's "Supernatural". Which was about a young women, played by actress Carol Lombard, who becomes possessed by the spirit of a women who killed three of her former lovers. The picture co-starred a young Randolph Scott.
The "White Zombie" of this film's title was actress Marge Bellamy as "Madeleine Short". Bellamy was a silent film star who didn't make the transition to sound very well. On January 20, 1943 Marge was involved in a scandal that ended her career. In San Francisco she had tracked down her former lover. On a crowded street she fired a .32 caliber revolver three times at his car with him inside. When arrested Bellamy stated she didn't intend to shoot him, as she was known as a crack shot, but to let him know how she felt about his ending their affair.
Marge's leading man portraying "Neil Parker" was John Harron. Between 1918 and 1940 he would appear in 172 feature films. Below Harron and Bellamy.
Robert W. Frazer was Plantation Owner "Charles Beaumont". His second feature film had been the 1912 "Robin Hood" and Beaumont would also portray "Rob Roy" in 1913. Both movies ran under thirty minutes. On August 17, 1944 the 53 year old actor died from Leukemia.
Joseph Cawthron played a missionary to Haiti named "Dr. Bruner". Cawthron was actually a stage and movie comic actor and being in this film was totally bizarre.
The movie was very moody and was shot at night to save money. The shoot was divided between the Universal Studio's lot, the RKO-Pathe Studio and what had become a major location motion picture Bronson Canyon. The production was Pre-Code (The Motion Picture Code of 1934) which still meant anything goes. For example Cecil B. DeMille's biblical epic "Sign of the Cross" released before "White Zombie", in February, had totally naked women in scenes including one of the leads.
On arrival in Haiti "Madeleine Short" reunites with her bank employee fiance "Neil Parker" to be married. On their way to the home of wealthy plantation owner "Charles Beaumont". The couple's coach passes White Zombie Master "Murder Legendre" who seems to take an interest in them.
"Beaumont" has been in love with "Madeleine", but she loves "Neil". So he decides to visit the Sugar Cane Plantation of "Legendre" which is run entirely by his Zombies.
"Murder" tells "Charles" that the only way to overcome the situation and make "Madeleine" love him. Is to use a potion that places her in a Zombie like trance. "Beaumont" agrees and is given the potion. He places it in her drink during the wedding reception and "Madeleine" appears to die and is buried.
After the burial "Murder" and "Charles" go to "Madeleine's" tomb, open it, and bring her back to semi-life as a Zombie.
Time passes and "Neil" in a drunken state has visions of "Madeleine".
"Neil" decides to go to her tomb to look upon her face once more, but discovers that it is empty.
"Neil" next goes to the missionary "Dr. Bruner" and learns how "Legendre" turned many of his rivals into Zombie slaves. The two men head for "Charles Beaumont's" plantation house. Where "Charles" has been having regrets over what he had "Murder" do to "Madeleine". She roams the house without emotion and performs his every wish, but this was not what "Beaumont" had wanted.
As "Neil" approaches "Murder Legendre's" fortress like home. The other senses him and orders "Madeleine" to kill him.
From behind a curtain "Dr. Bruner's" hand reaches out and makes her drop the knife. She then turns and walks away as if nothing happened. "Neil" follows "Madeleine" to an escarpment were "Murder" and some of his Zombies are standing. The Zombie Masters orders the zombies to kill "Neil".
"Dr. Bruner" knocks "Murder" out breaking the Zombie Master's control. The now confused Zombies fall off the escarpment. While "Legendre" is reviving "Charles" appears from the house. "Beaumont" pushes "Murder Legendre" off the escarpment and looses his own footing falling to his own death. "Madeleine" is now released from her zombie state and seeing "Neil" embraces him.
There are three edits of this picture. As originally edited the movie ran 70 minutes in 1932. The second edit was two minutes shorter and used upon the pictures first re-release. This change was due to censorship from the now enforced Motion Picture Code and the third was one more minute shorter at 67 minutes.
In 1985 a Heavy Metal band took their name from this film to be known as "White Zombie".
CHLOE, LOVE IS CALLING YOU
"Chloe, Love is Calling You" was released on April 1, 1934 aka: "Chloe". The picture was written and directed by Marshall Leonard, before he went to work for Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer.
This is another pre-Code motion picture dealing with the idea of a Black women passing herself off as White.
DRUMS O'VOODOO aka: SHE DEVIL aka: LOUISIANA
This was an all Black Horror movie first released May 11, 1934.
Since the silent days and not just in the segregated Southern United States. Motion pictures were being made by White producers, writers and directors for Black audiences. Some of these features were produced by Black production companies, but were few in number. The "All Black Cast" films were shown in segregated movie theaters and again not just in the South, Black movie houses existed in 1950's in Los Angeles. This, sadly, reflected America even though Black actors appeared in motion pictures such as Shirley Temple's 1935 "The Little Colonel".
The main star of "She Devil" was African American Laura Bowman a major stage and radio performer. She had appeared on stage in major venues in London, England and theaters around the United States. Laura's role was "Auntie Hagar" a voodoo priestess. Augustus "Gus" Smith portrayed "Elder Amos Berry". He was seen in several motion pictures in the role of a preacher including the 1947 "Hi De Ho" starring popular band leader Cab Calloway. In most of the South the movie was shown in segregated theaters only.
"Thomas Catt" owns a Southern cabaret-brothel and desires "Myrtle Simpson". She is the niece of Preacher "Amos Berry" and is the fiancee of "Auntie Hagar's" grandson. "Catt" vows to reveal that "Elder Berry" once murdered a man, if he doesn't give him "Myrtle". "Auntie Hagar" starts using some of her voodoo on "Catt" and predicts he will be struck blind by lightening.
At the climatic church meeting "Catt" comes in and starts to tell the congregation about "Berry". When he is struck blind by a bolt of lightening and then is buried in quicksand leaving the lovers to be married.
This is a movie Fay Wray probably wanted to forget. Released on June 15, 1934.
The motion picture tells the story of a young girl named "Juanita". Whose parents were murdered during an unnamed island's voodoo ritual. The little girl was also used in the ritual, but was able to escape from the Island. Now an adult she feels a compulsion to return and take her daughter and Nanny to stay at her Uncle's plantation. "Juanita" discovers that the natives consider her a Goddess and she becomes involved in their voodoo rituals.
Any attempt to remove "Juanita", portrayed by Dorothy Burgess , as the natives Goddess is met with death. Her husband "Stephen", Jack Holt, arrives on the island and goes into the jungle to rescue her, but sees a voodoo sacrifice going on with a young women as a sacrifice. "Stephen" shoots the High Priest, but witnesses his wife finish it.
With the High Priest injured the natives decide to murder all the whites on the island. "Stephen" takes his daughter and two others into the fortified area of the plantation house. The natives succeed in capturing "Stephen" and his Secretary "Gail", but the two are rescued.
"Juanita" gets her daughter and prepares to sacrifice her.
"Stephen" arrives just as the sacrifice is about to be completed, kills his wife and saves his daughter.
Fay Wray was the minor character of "Gail", "Stephen's" secretary, in this motion picture. Although. because of 1933's "King Kong". It was her name that was used as a draw on all the publicity. Below Fay Wray and Jack Holt.
This 1936 motion picture is considered the actual Second Zombie movie, but wasn't seen except in Segregated Black Movie Houses. It is also known as either "The Love Wanga", or "Drums of the Jungle" and was made by a Black motion picture company.
The above poster indicates the play "White Cargo" that was on London and Broadway stages since 1923. It has also been a part talkie movie in 1929 starring Maurice Evans. Evans would be known to 1960 audiences as either "Dr. Zaius" in 1968's "Planet of the Apes" and "Samantha Stevens" father on television's "Bewitched". In 1942 Walter Pidgeon, 1956's "Forbidden Planet" and 1961's "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea", and Hedy Lamarr, Cecil B. DeMile's 1949 "Samson and Delilah", remade the film. The tie in to the play is not Zombies, but interracial love.
The plot of "Quanga" has Black female plantation owner "Klili Gordon", played by Fredi Washinton, getting he revenge upon White plantation owner "Adam Maynard", played by Philip Brandon.
"Maynard" chooses a White women, "Eve Langley", played by Marie Paxton, for marriage and not "Klili". She places a curse upon "Adan" and unleashes Zombies to attempt to drive "Eve" from Haiti. White writer and director George Terwilliger's screenplay has a racial biblical allegory to it. As the White "Adam" and "Eve" are being driven out of Black Eden.
REVOLT OF THE ZOMBIES
The Halperin brothers were back four year later with "Revolt of the Zombies" released June 4, 1936. The screenplay was by non credited Howard Higgin one of those forgotten writers and sometime director. Among Higgin's work as writer and director was the early sound production 1929's "The Racketeer". The features starred Robert Armstrong, 1933's "King Kong", and actress Carol Lombard. In 1931 he wrote and directed a forgotten Western "The Painted Desert". The feature starred a pre-"Hopalong Cassidy" William Boyd and featured an unknown Clark Gable in his first sound motion picture role. In 1932, the same year as "White Zombie", Higgin had written and directed "Hell's House". This drama starred Pat O'Brien and Bette Davis. Besides this motion picture in 1936 Howard Higgin wrote the original story that became the Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi picture "The Invisible Ray".
The plot of Higgn's story for "Revolt of the Zombies" required a camera crew to be sent to Indochina. Which is now Southeast Asia including Cambodia, the setting of the movie, Laos and Vietnam.
This was the 16th motion picture for actor Dean Jagger who portrayed "Armand Louque". Jagger would go on to receive the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for the 1949 War movie "Twelve O'Clock High" starring Gregory Peck. In 1940 he was in director Henry Hathaway's "Brigham Young" as the title role. The following year it was director Fritz Lang's "Western Union" starring Robert Young and Randolph Scott and in 1954, Jagger, was in the first CinemaScope motion picture "The Robe" starring Richard Burton. Dean Jagger's other work would include director John Sturges' "Bad Day at Black Rock" starring Spence Tracy and Robert Ryan. Along with the House of Hammer's 1956 horror picture "X-the Unknown" and even Bruce Lee's 1972 "Game of Death" that had to be semi-completed after Lee's death.
Dorothy Stone was "Claire Duval". Her film career, from 1932 to 1944, consisted of four short subjects and two feature films as she was mostly on the legitimate stage.
Below Dean Jagger and Dorothy Stone.
Roy D'Arcy was the villain of the story "General Mazovia". His acting career lasted from 1925 into 1939. When he went into Real Estate sales.
The picture opens up on the Franco-Austrian frontier during the First World War. The oriental chaplain for a French Regiment is condemned to death, because he possess the power to change men into Zombies. That power is on an ancient piece of parchment that the chaplain attempts to burn, but is murdered by "General Mazovia" who takes it.
Below some of the Zombies the chaplain had created.
After the war has ended. An expedition from the allies, who are planning colonial expansion, is sent to find what is being called the "Secret of the Zombies" and destroy it.
The expedition consists of "General Mazoia". "Dr. Trevissant", "Armond Louque". "Clifford Grayson", "General Duval" and his daughter "Claire". There is a love triangle between "Armond", "Claire" and "Clifford" portrayed by Robert Nolan. I couldn't find one piece of information about the actor shown below. In the story "Claire" returns "Armond's" engagement ring after falling for "Clifford".
Meanwhile, "Armond" accidentally stumbles on the tablet with the formula to turn people into Zombies. With a plot twist, Dean Jagger, the star of the film, turns from good to bad from his rejection by "Claire".
Rather than raising the dead through voodoo. The tablet's formula is for a gas, think the First World War, to turn people into Zombies. "Armond" experiments upon his servant "Buna" first.
As a gimmick to make the audience think Zombies under "Armond's": mind control. The film superimposes a pair of eyes, supposedly being "Armond's", but in reality Bela Lugosi's from "White Zombie".
Finding out that "General Mazovia" wants to create an army of Zombies and take over the world. "Armand" uses his power over "Buna" to murder the General.
Then "Armond" turns an entire Cambodian regiment into his Zombie Army. Next moving on to every other member of the expedition and finally "Claire".
However, before "Amrond" can use the gas on "Claire'. She is able to convince him to stop the madness and release everyone under his control. Now comes "The Revolt of the Zombies" being nothing more than the people he had under his control getting their revenge killing "Armond".
The movie isn't as good as the potential of Howard Higgin's original story.
THE DEVILS DAUGHTER
"The Devils Daughter" was released on December 7, 1939 and was also written by George Terwilliger based partly upon "Quanaga". However, Arthur H. Leonard directed. Leonard only directed 6 films and produced 7 starting with this one and ending eight years later in 1947.
This motion picture featured an all Black cast.
The plot has superstitious "Sylvia Walton" inheriting a plantation in Jamaica and leaving Harlem. Her half sister "Isabelle" was portrayed by the legendary stage and screen actress Nina Mae McKinney. McKinney was known as the "Black Garbo" and worked in motion pictures in both the United States and the U.K. She was the first African American to appear on British television.
"Isabelle", who has lived most of her life on the plantation, refuses an offer from "Sylvia", played by Ida Mae James, to share the plantation as equals. James was a singer and had a hit song "Shoo Shoo Baby". Which after that song became the way she was billed in nightclubs.
After refusing "Sylvia's" offer "Isabelle" goes to plantation overseer "Philip Ramsey".portrayed by Jack Carter. The two create a plan to play off "Sylvia's" superstitious nature. By making her believe she will be turned into a Zombie through a Voodoo ritual ceremony "Sylvia" had observed earlier in the story.
In the end both sisters share the plantation.
THE GHOST BREAKERS
When fighting a Zombie the number one person to battle him is always comedian Bob Hope. Hope had just released the first "Road" movie with Bing Crosby before "The Ghost Breakers". "The Road to Singapore" had opened on March 22, 1940 and this Horror comedy would be followed by"Road to Zanzibar" on April 11, 1941.
Joining Bob Hope was actress Paulette Goddard. On November 10, 1939 she had proceeded this picture by co-starring with Hope in a remake of the comedy silent "The Cat and the Canary". Goddard would follow this feature with "The Great Dictator", released October 15, 1940, directed and written by Charlie Chaplin.
"The Cat and the Canary" along with 1948's "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" are considered two of the three greatest Hollywood Horror Comedies ever made. The third is the feature I am discussing "The Ghost Breakers" released June 7, 1940.
At a Los Angeles radio station crime reporter "Lawrence Lawrence", Hope, is broadcasting his last solved crime case. While in her hotel room "Mary Carter", Goddard, experiences a power blackout caused by a violent thunderstorm. Sitting in the dark there is a knock on her door and "Mary" is visited by a somewhat sinister Cuban solicitor named "Mr. Parada" played by Paul Lukas, Lukas was in Alfred Hitchcock's 1938 "The Lady Vanishes" and would be seen in Walt Disney's 1954 "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" among 132 other roles. "Mr. Parada" informs "Mary" she has inherited a plantation and mansion called "Castillo Maldito" in Cuba.
"Prada" offers to purchase the property, but before "Mary" can respond to him the phone rings. On the other end is a "Mr. Mederos", Anthony Quinn, who had just been one of the villains in "The Road to Singapore". "Mederos" warns "Mary" not to sell the property and she agrees to meet him later.
After his broadcast "Larry Lawrence" gets a call from mobster "Frenchy Duvall", Paul Fix. "Duvall" wants to meet "Lawrence" at his hotel. Paul Fix who would be "Marshall Micah Torrance" on television's "The Rifleman" and had just been seen in the Science Fiction movie "Dr. Cyclops".
The darken hotel is the set up for a comic situation in which Hope thinks he murdered "Mr. Mederos". With the help of his valet "Alex", comic Willie Best, "Larry" ends up being packed into "Mary's" trunks and unpacked by her on a ship going to Cuba.
Once in Cuba they meet "Geoff Montgomery", Richard Carlson, who starts telling the two tales about voodoo, zombies and other superstitions of the Cuban population and that fact that "Mary's" plantation house is suppose to be haunted.
Carlson has just been seen in "Beyond Tomorrow". A Fantasy in which three dead industrialist return as ghosts to help a young couple reunite. My film biography on Richard Carlson may be read at:
Strange ghostly events start to happen including the appearance of an actual walking dead Zombie. The Zombie was played by African American actor Noble Johnson. He is probably best known as the Native Chief on Skull Island, but in actuality was an excellent character actor. His story can be read at:
I'll not spoil the film for my reader, but if you haven't seen it. Find it!
Low budget Monogram Pictures got into the Zombie action with two motion pictures.
KING OF THE ZOMBIES
Released on May 14, 1941 was the Horror/Comedy picture "King of the Zombies".
Playing "James 'Mac' McCarthy" was "B" actor Dick Purcell. Purcell's claim to fame was in 1943. When he portrayed Marvel Comics "Captain America" in a Republic Pictures 15 part serial.
My article of Comic Book Heroes during World War 2 can be read at:
The leading lady was Joan Woodbury as "Barbara Winslow". For those of my readers familiar with Universal Studio's the "Bride of Frankenstein". Woodbury was the little Queen in the bottle created by "Doctor Pretorius". In 1943 she had the lead in the Columbia Pictures serial, based upon a newspaper comic strip, as "Brenda Starr, Reporter".
Below Joan Woodury and John Archer. John Archer portrayed "Bill Summers". Archer became a solid "B" supporting and lead actor. Among his later pictures were the World War 2 pictures "Crash Dive" starring Tyrone Power and "Guadalcanal Diary" and George Pal's 1950 "Destination Moon" from a story by Robert A. Heinlein.
Henry Victor was the evil "Dr. Mildos Sangre". Victor had been born in the U.K. and his main motion pictures were in silents films. Here he was just trying to make a living as the title character. The role was originally planned for Bela Lugosi, but he became unavailable. So Peter Lorre was contacted, but negotiating for the actor didn't work out.
All of these early voodoo and zombie motion pictures had strong racial stereo types when it came to African Americans. This also included the "All Black" features I mentioned previously. "King of the Zombies" drew it comedy elements between actors Mantan Moreland as "Jefferson 'Jeff' Jackson", the valet of "Bill Summers", and Marguerite Whitten the maid for "Dr. Sangre".
Mantan Moreland, who had third billing, had to put up with criticism of his stereo typical characters, but his "Birmingham Brown" in Sidney Tolar's "Charlie Chan" series is classic. He appeared in that role in 15 feature films.
Actress Patricia Stacey portrayed the wife of "Dt. Sangre", "Alyce".
The story has "Mac McCarthy" flying a test plane between Puerto Rico and Cuba with "Bill Summers" and "Jeff Jackson" as passengers. The plane is running out of fuel after being blown off course and crash lands on a remote island.
The three men make their way to "Dr. Sangre's" mansion and meet the Doctor, his wife and ""Barbara Winslow". They soon believe the mansion is haunted by Zombies, which the staff confirms, and with "Barbara" decide to explore the island and come upon a voodoo ritual.
Of course they discover that "Dr. Sangre" is creating the zombies and is a spy for a unnamed Foreign Country. "James McCarthy" is turned into a zombie, but "Bill" and "Barbara", an American spy, use the doctor's radio to contact the U.S. Navy for help.
A pilot arrives to rescue the group, but is killed by "Dr. Sangre" who falls into a fire pit and dies. Thereby, releasing all those under his control.
As strange as this may seem. The musical score by composer Edward Kay was nominated for a Academy Award. Some of the musical scores that were nominated included Alfred Newman for "How Green Was My Valley", Bernard Herriman for "Citizen Kane", Max Steiner for "Sergeant York" and Franz Waxman for the Spencer Tracy "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". They all lost to Bermard Herriman's other nominated score for "All That Money Can Buy". A forgotten film starring Edward Arnold and Walter Huston.
Released October 30, 1942 was in the very low budget "Bowery at Midnight". When you think that he was "Ygor" in Universal Pictures "The Ghost of Frankenstein" in March of that year. This pictures was just a means for Bela to obtain money being made by Monagram/Astor Pictures.
John Archer is back as "Richard Dennison" and Wanda McKay is "Judy Malvern". McKay in her first 18 roles received on screen credit only in two of them. She was mostly in very low budget motion pictures as the female lead starting in 1941.
The plot has Bela's "Professor Brenner", a criminologist, living a double life as "Karl Wagner". Kindly "Wagner" runs a Bowery soup kitchen to help the homeless, but he has an ulterior motive. It is a front for a robbery ring he leads with several henchmen. One of these is an alcoholic doctor who appears to have a drug addiction also.
In the following lobby card is "B" actor Tom Neal as "Frankie Mills". Neal was a strong "B" actor known for the classic 1945 film noir "Detour". He was also a very good amateur boxer from 1932 into 1934. Tom Neal made headlines with a scandalous affair with popular actress Barbara Payton and would be charged with manslaughter for another matter.
As things go wrong for the Professor and his gang. He starts to kill off his henchmen and the doctor starts to work on the bodies. At the end the police are confronted with zombie henchman to fight.
I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE
This is the still a moody classic Horror picture from producer Val Lewton released on April 8, 1943. Lewton had released the classic "Cat People" the year before and in August would release what is considered a semi-prequel to that picture "The Seventh Victim". It is also considered the source for Dario Argento's 1977 "Suspiria".
My article on Val Lewton can be read at:
To direct this picture Val Lewton hired Jacques Tourneur who had directed "Cat People", Among the directors feature work would be 1957's "Night of the Demon" aka: "Curse of the Demon", Roger Corman's "Comedy of Terror" and "City Beneath the Sea" aka: "Warlords of the Deep".
The screenplay was by Curt Siodmak who had written for Universal Studios. Siodak wrote the screenplay for "The Wolfman" and created the poem about the full moon. He also wrote, as a joke, "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman" and the Vincent Price vehicle "The Invisible Man Returns". My article on Curt and his director brother Robert, who together wrote and directed Lon Chaney, Jr. as the "Son of Dracula", can be read at:
Siodmak's co-writer on this film was Ardel Wray. Among her screenplays were Lewton's 1943's "The Leopard Man" and, my personal favorite, 1945's "Isle of the Dead" that starred Boris Karloff,
James Ellison portrays "Wesley Rand". Ellison was actually known as a "B" Western cowboy and was the sidekick of William Boyd's "Hopalong Cassidy" in several 1930's movies. The year before this film he was the lead in 20th Century Fox's low budget Horror movie "The Undying Monster".
The leading lady was Francis Dee as "Betsy Cornnell". Dee had third billing in the Bette Davis and Leslie Howard 1934 version of W. Somerset Maugham's "Of Human Bondage". She had co-starred with Ronald Coleman and Basil Rathbone in 1938's "If I Were King"
Tom Conway was "Dr. Louis Judd" in "The Cat People" and "The Seventh Victim". Conway's brother George Sanders was appearing as "The Falcon" in a series of RKO detective thrillers. Sanders walked away from the role and Tom Conway took over for ten films. In this movie he's "Paul Holland".
In the following lobby card are left to right James Ellison, Francis Dee and Tom Conway
Edith Barrett portrays "Mrs. Rand" the mother of "Paul" and "Wesley". This was her fifth motion picture and the same month as this picture. She was in the Orson Wells and Jane Fontaine version of Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre". Barrett appeared in several small roles and then moved to television.
Christine Gordon was "Jessica Holland" the wife of "Paul". This was Gordon's first motion picture and she would follow this was only five more. All without on screen credit.
The story opens with a voice over by Canadian "Nurse Bestsy Connell" telling the audience that she once:
WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE"Betsy" has been hired by Sugar plantation owner "Paul Holland" to care for his wife "Jessica". They live within the small white community of the island of Saint Sebastian. "Besty's" black driver tells the nurse that the statue of "T-Misery (Saint Sebastian pierced by arrows)" is located in the courtyard by the main house and is in actuality the figure head of a slave ship that landed on the island.
At dinner "Betsy" meets "Wesley Rand" the half-brother of "Paul" and an employee who resents his brother. Later, at night, as she prepares for bed "Betsy" hears crying and goes to investigate. She observes a women in a robe with staring eyes walk past her and the nurse screams waking up everyone else. This is her charge "Jessica Holland" who is taken away by "Wesley".
The next day "Dr. Maxwell", James Bell, informs "Nurse Connell" that "Jessica Holland's" spinal chord was irreparably damage by an illness that leaves her totally without the willpower to do anything herself. He doesn't explain what this illness is.
On her day off "Betsy" encounters "Wesley" in town drinking himself into a stupor. Near him is a calypso singer played by singer Sir Lancelot. Who during the 1950's was calypso singer/actor Harry Belafonte stated inspiration to sing. The calypso singer strangely sings a song about how "Jessica" and "Paul" planned to run away together, but "Paul" stopped them.
Later "Betsy" hears "Paul" playing the piano.
"Paul" admits to "Betsy" that he might have been the cause of his wife's illness and apologizes for bringing the nurse to the island. Who now realizes that she is falling in love with him.
"Betsy" suggests an insulin shock treatment to cure "Jessica", but it fails. However, the housemaid "Alma", Theresa Harris, 1934's "Drums of Voodoo", suggests that there's a voodoo priestess who has cured another women with the same illness.
"Betsy" takes "Jessica" into the surrounding sugar cane to find the voodoo priestess. The walk with the zombie.
People are given advise through a shack's door by the unseen priestess guarded by the zombie "Carrefour", portrayed by Darby Jones.
"Betsy Cornell" discovers that the voodoo priestess is actually "Mrs. Rand". Who explains that "Jessica" can not be cured. On their way back to the plantation house one of the locals knifes "Jessica's" arm, which does not bleed, and the workers are convinced she is a Zombie.
Again I will not tell my reader any more. As this film is available and well worth their time to find.
BATMAN THE SERIAL
Released July 16, 1943 was the first Chapter of the 15 Chapter Serial "Batman". Although based upon the Detective Comics (DC) hero. In this Columbia Pictures serial "Bruce Wayne", played by Lewis Wilson, is a Secret Agent for the United States Government. Wilson was a "B" actor with only 17 films to his name.
Douglas Croft portrayed "Dick Grayson aka: Robin". He only has 12 film credits, but those included portraying Ronald Reagan "Drake McHugh" as a boy in the movie "Kings Row", James Cagney's "George M. Cohan" as a boy in "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and Gary Cooper's "Lou Gehrig" as a boy in "The Pride of the Yankees".
The evil Japanese scientist "Prince Tito Daka" was portrayed by character actor J. Carrol Naish. Naish started acting in 1925 and appeared in films such as Gary Cooper's "Lives of a Bengal Lancer", Errol Flynn's "Captain Blood" and his "The Charge of the Light Brigade". The year prior to this serial Naish appeared in his first low budget Horror movie "Dr. Renault's Secret".
Below "Prince Daka" creates one of his "Electronic Zombies".
This was the first time a scientific means, not voodoo on dead bodies, was used to create zombies. In his plan to create the ultimate weapon to use against the United States. "Prince Daka" turns American scientists into slaves to work for him. Their will is gone and they appear mindless bodies to other people. This was why the screenplay referred to the scientists with "Daka's Electrical Brains" as zombies. This idea would be used again in 1955.
It is "Prince Tito Daka's" mistake of kidnapping the father of "Bruce Wayne's"girlfriend that leads to his eventual downfall.
I go into detail on the serial in the above mentioned article on Comic Book hero's fighting the Axis during World War 2. This serial is also part of my article "BATMAN Before Time Burton" at:
REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIES
The "Revenge of the Zombies" was released on September 17, 1943 and is about a mad scientist who wants to create an army of Zombies for the Third Reich. It was written by the same team who did "King of the Zombies" and is considered a remake of sorts. It is also the first motion picture that presumes the target audience knows what a "Zombie" is, because there is no voodoo rituals only the walking dead created by the scientist.
The picture starred John Carradine as Nazi Scientist "Dr. Max Heinrich von Altermann. 1943 was the start of Carradine's Nazi period. That year he had already been Gestapo Agent "Fritz Martin" in "I Escaped from the Gestapo" and real life Nazi Reinhardt Heydrich in "Hitler's Madman".
Gale Storm was "Jennifer Rand". Storm was a singer and "B" actress. Who during the 1950's had two popular television series "My Little Marge" and "The Gale Storm Show".
Gale Storm is standing in this faded lobby card.
Also in the above lobby card on the far left is Robert Lowery as "Larry Adams". He is also tied up in the following lobby card. Lowery was a sold "B" lead who would transfer to television during the 1950's. Robert Lowery was also the second actor to portray "Batman" on the motion picture screen. He had appeared with John Carradine in the Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert "Drums Along the Mohawk", was the hero in the Lon Chaney, Jr. feature "The Mummy's Ghost" and was in "House of Horrors" with classic Horror actor Rondo Hatton as "The Creeper".
To the far right,above, is "B" Cowboy star and Hollywood tough guy Bob Steele. He's a United States Secret Agent posing as the local Sheriff. Love that Steel'swearing a Black Cowboy hat. Which was his trademark going against the theory that the good guys always wore White, or Grey Cowboy hats and only the bad guys wore Black ones.
Back once more is Mantan Moreland as "Jeff Jefferson". With him, below, is Sylvia Lewis as "Rosella". She was considered one of the best comic African American actresses of the period. Her timing was impeccable.
Veda Ann Borg was "Lila von Altermann". The actress appeared in over 100 feature films. Some of her work included Joan Crawford's 1945 "Mildred Pierce", 1955's "Love Me, or Leave Me" starring Doris Day and James Cagney, the same years "Guys and Dolls" starring Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando, but to me, her performance as the blind "Nell Robertson" in John Wayne's 1960 "The Alamo" is unforgettable
Below Carradine and Borg.
Below Storm and Lowery.
The story takes place in the swamps of Louisiana. Private detective "Larry Adams" is sent by "Scott Warrington" to the home of "Max von Altermann" to find out the facts around the death of "Max's" wife and "Scott's" sister,
This will lead to the discovery that "von Altermann" is a Nazi in direct communication with Hitler and creating an army of Zombies.
What "Max" starts to realize, too late, is that "Lila" has regained some control of herself and is starting to take command of the zombies. The revenge of the title is when she has them attack "Max" and he flees with her into the swamp and both sink in quick sand.
This is a fun film for whose in it and its ending. First you have Bela Lugosi as "Dr. Richard Marlowe". Next is John Carradine as "Toby" and finally George Zucco as "Nicholas".
The movie was shot in seven days starting on October 16, 1943. It was released on February 21, 1944. Don't laugh too much, but in the following still you have Lugosi in the chair, Zucco standing to his right and in the background Carradine. All three taking their roles very seriously.Wanda McKay is back as heroine "Betty Benton" seated on the left.
The man standing on the far right in the following blurry picture is the hero Tod Andrews as screenplay writer "Ralph Dawnson". "B" actor Andrews would star in the 1957 Horror movie "From Hell It Came" and on the television series "The Grey Ghost" as Confederate John Singelton Moseby.
The screenplay was by writer Robert Charles whose only other credit it the same years "Return of the Ape Man". The plot has George Zucco running as gas station for the purpose of finding beautiful young women for Bela Lugosi. Lugosi's wife is long dead and he is transferring these girl's "essence" into the body to eventually bring her back to life. John Carradine takes care of the now zombie like women after their "essence" has been removed and uses bongo drums during voodoo ceremonies..Got that? Enter McKay and Andrews. She gets into trouble and he saves her and stops Lugosi and company. It is the ending that is truly classic for this type of movie.
Tod Andrews' character turns his experiences into a screenplay he calls "Voodoo Man". Takes it to a producer who buys it and asks him who should star in their picture and Andrews replies
So did the audience watch the original events, or the screenplay?
ZOMBIES ON BROADWAY
On April 26, 1945 Bela Lugosi was back in "Zombies On Broadway" aka: "Loonies On Broadway".
This picture from RKO Studios starred the comedy team of Wally Brown and Alan Carney. RKO's low budget answer to the popular movies featuring the comic duo of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.
Wally Brown was "Jerry Miles" and Alan Carney was "Mike Strager" The two are employed as Broadway Press Agents and come up with a scheme to hire a "Real Zombie" for the opening of the "Zombie Hut" cabaret owned by gangster "Ace Miller". The gangster, as in many films, was portrayed by actor Sheldon Leonard the future producer of such television programs as "The Dick Van Dyke Show", "The Andy Griffin Show" and "I Spy".
Above seated Alan Carney and Wally Brown. Below Carney, Brown and Sheldon Leonard..
Actress Anne Jeffreys was "Jean La Dance". Jeffrey's was a singer with plans to sing opera, but ended up in a musical review instead. The appearance led to a movie contract and her first movie 1942's "I Married an Angel" starred the operatic singing duo of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald. Jeffreys returned to stage musicals for awhile and from 1953 through 1955 the actress started her television career as "Ghost Marion Kirby" with actor and real husband Robert Sterling as "Ghost George Kirby"in the series "Topper" starring Leo G. Carroll in the title role.
Below Brown, Carney and Ann Jeffreys.
The villain of the piece is the mysterious "Professor Renault" portrayed by Bela Lugosi.
This being an RKO zombie movie. The screenplay recycled the name of the island in this picture as "San Sebastian" and the production used the same sets seen in both Val Lewton's "I Walked with a Zombie" and "Ghost Ship". They also recycled the calypso singer Sir Lancelot from the first Val Lewton movie.
Still keeping things Lewton. RKO also recycled the zombie this time called "Kalaga" with actor Darby Jones.
In a small role as museum janitor "Worthington" was Nick Stewart. He provided the stereotyped racial comedy. Actually his reactions are very much like Lou Costello's with Lugosi's "Dracula" and Glenn Strange's "Frankenstein monster" in "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein". Which this movie is no where close too.
The plot is a little bit of "Ghost Breakers", a bit of "Revenge of the Zombies" and just a smidgen of ripped off Abbott and Costello style gags.
"Jerry Miles" and "Mike Strager" start to make a fake zombie to use for the nightclub, but they run afoul of a radio show business reporter. Who vows to publicly humiliate gangster "Ace Miller", if the boys don't produce a real zombie for the "Zombie Hut's" opening night.
The two then board a tramp steamer for the island of "San Sebastian", but are met by two of "Ace's" goons. Who then threaten their lives, if they don't produce a "Real Live Zombie". How might the audience ask do they get a "Live" zombie? Arriving on the island "Miles" and "Strager" meet cabaret singer "Jean La Danse".
The three end up at the mansion of "Professor Renault" who is creating zombies. As the boys explore the house. "Kalaga" captures "Jean" and takes her to the Professor's secret laboratory. Just as "Renault" is about to give his zombie serum to "Jean" the guard dogs sense intruders. "Jean" is taken to a dungeon and tied up. While the Professor and "Kalaga" go to find the intruders. While this is happening "Jean" manages to untie herself and escape. "Mike" is turned into a zombie by "Professor Renault", but "Jerry" and ":Jean" rescue the zombie "Mike" and three escape and head back to New York.
Zombie "Mike" is presented to the "Zombie Hut" audience on opening night. He suddenly comes around to his old self as the serum has worn off. As a result "Mike" and "Jerry" must now face the wrath of "Ace" from what he perceives as another scam by the two.
VALLEY OF THE ZOMBIES
This movie from Republic Pictures was released on May 24, 1946. One thing needs to be established first about "Valley of the Zombies" and that is there is no valley. As a matter of fact there is no plural zombies, but one.
Robert Livingston portrays "Dr. Terence 'Terry' Evans". Livingston was a 1930's "B" Cowboy actor. In 1936 he was in the cast of the original "The Three Godfathers" Livingston was "Don Diego" aka: Zorro" in 1936's "The Bold Caballero" and the original "Stony Brooke", a role John Wayne would also play, in the "B" Western series "The Three Mesquiteers" from 1936 into 1938 for 15 motion pictures.
Livingston is on the right of the following still.
The role of "Nurse Susan Drake" was portrayed by Columbia and Republic Pictures Lorna Grey. She was originally a comic actress for Columbia and then became a villainess for Republic Pictures appearing in a combination of 69 shorts and features.
Below Grey and our zombie, maybe, "Ormand Murks" portrayed by Ian Keith. Keith was an excellent character actor. This film is a little odd when you consider he was "John Wilkes Booth" in D.W. Griffiths 1930 "Abraham Lincoln", "Octavian" in Cecil B. DeMille's 1934 "Cleopatra" starring Claudette Colbert, "Saladin" in DeMille's 1935 "The Crusades", "James Stuart" in John Ford's 1936 "Mary of Scotland" and his final motion picture appearance was as "Rameses I" in DeMille's 1956 "The Ten Commandments". His career included many a "B" Western villain and on television everything from "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger" and "Inner Sanctum" to "Dragnet".
Another problem with the screenplay is that the deceased "Ormand Murks". Who is brought back to life really isn't a zombie, but more a vampire. During the screenplay by brothers Stuart E. and Dorrell McGowan "Murks" explains this, because he needs fresh blood to survive.
You also have the usual police thinking "Dr. Evans" and "Nurse Drake" are murders, but of course they have no evidence. At the climax "Ormand Murks" hypnotizes "Susan Drake"" to give him a blood transfusion, "Terry" arrives and chases the two to the buildings roof. Just as "Susan", commanded by "Ormand", is about to shoot "Terry". The police arrive, shoot "Murks" and he falls from the building now dead again.
We now enter the world of 1950's Science Fiction and Space Alien created zombies. Which reflected American at the start of the Cold War. Along with the regular zombie fare of the past.
ZOMBIES OF THE STRATOSPHERE
The first episode of this 12 Chapter Republic serial was released on July 16, 1952. There are no zombies to be found anywhere. The zombies are actually Martians, referred to as zombies and don't ask why as it is never explained, planning to physically move the Earth into the orbit of Mars. To take the place of their dying planet and save their race. The serial had the return of Republics popular "Rocket Man".
The only reason I mention this serial is that one of the Martian :Zombies" was played by pre-"Mr. Spock" Leonard Nimoy on the left below:
The following year 20th Century Fox released a 3-D science fiction feature that first showed space aliens turning humans into zombie like slaves.
INVADERS FROM MARS
The initial story was by non screen credited John Tucker Battle and the screenplay by writer Richard Blake. It, like many films of the early 1950's, played upon Cold War America's fears of the Soviet Union amplified by Senator Joseph McCarthy. In short the era I grew up in.
Under the direction of William Cameron Menzies, art director for John Barrymore's 1920 "Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", director for 1936's H.G. Wells' "Things to Come", the production designer for 1939's "Gone With the Wind" and art director for 1940's "The Thief of Bagdad", the film became a tight story with claustrophobic set designs. Perfect for the United States' nightmarish ending.
The cast was also perfect.
Jimmy Hunt was young "David MacLean". This was his 39th role since 1947. Arthur Franz was "Dr. Stuart Kelson". Prior to this picture he had been in John Wayne's 1949 "Sands of Iwo Jima", was the title character in 1951's "Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man" and interestingly also in 1951 space opera "Flight to Mars". Helena Carter was "Dr, Patricia Blake". This was her final film, because she got married and raised a family.
Below Hunt, Carter and Franz.
"David" has a loving father played by Leif Erickson, 1954's "On the Waterfront" and the star of televisions "High Chaparral". "David's" father works on a secret space project. One evening after "David" and his father have been using their backyard telescope and it is remarked that Mars is at its closest point to Earth. "David" goes to sleep and during the night is awaken by thunder and lightening, As he closes his window the boy notices something seeming to go into the sand pit near his house. He tells his father and because of "David's" insistence he goes to check it out.
The following morning "David's" father returns with a completely different attitude. He has become cold instead of warm toward his son. What's happened? There is also a red "X" on the back of his neck that he covers up. "David's" father is now a reflection of American's fear about major scientists being "brain washed" to do the work for the Soviets as a spy and out our secrets. Eventually both parents will become the film's "Ethel and Julius Rosenberg". Two names very familiar, after a show trial, who sold our Atomic bomb secrets to the Soviet Union..
His loving mother, actress Hiliary Brookes, who would become a regular on the "Abbott and Costello" television show, is confused over her husband's new attitude toward "David" and herself. Before the day is over she will also become a zombie for whatever is under the sand pit.
"David: is observing the sand pit area and sees a neighbor girl "Kathy Wilson", Janine Pereau, seemingly being sucked into it. Later the girl comes to his front door, emotionless, and with that red "X" on her neck. "Kathy's" father works with "David's".
"David" flees to the police station for help. This is William Cameron Menzies at his best in set design. Instead of the reassurance the station should provide "David". The minimal sets are very nightmarish in Menzies designs.More so when seen in the film's original 3-D presentation.
The police chief tells the desk sergeant that the boy is a runaway and to place him in a cell. While the Chief, who has a red "X" on his neck, calls his parents./ The concerned desk sergeant after locking the boy up calls "Dr. Blake" to see him.,
"Dr. Blake" is asked to first show "David" the back of her neck, before he will talk to her. She does and he tells her his fantastic story. When "David's" parents arrive and appear to be unemotional, almost zombie like, toward him, the doctor makes a fast decision.
She buys into the boys story to some extant. Then tells his parents and the desk sergeant that "David" is very ill, needs to be in the hospital, and is under her protection. The parents realizing the trap they're in leave.
Next "Dr. Blake" takes "David: go to see "Dr. Kelston" at the observatory.."Kelston" reveals the Secret Space project that "David" and "Kathy's" fathers are working upon. This will all lead to a flying saucer from the planet Mars having arrived in the sand pit and gone underground. The military getting involved for National Security against the invaders and "David's" parents being killed attempting to blow up the atomic powered space craft his father was working upon.
What is unknown is that the Martian's have created a tunnel system under the sand pit, but a plan to go under the pit and destroy the flying saucer is put together.
Below the familiar face of Morris Ankrum as "Colonel Fielding".
.Ankrum was in 1950's "Rocketship X-M", was a Martian in 1951's "Flight to Mars" and appeared in the Cold War Science Fiction film, from 1952, "Red Planet Mars" starring an unknown Peter Graves. All prior to "Invaders From Mars". My article on Morris Ankrum may be read at:
Both "David" and "Dr, Blake" are captured by the aliens. Who have come from Mars to prevent the Earth establishing space travel. In the Martian underground tunnel system, created by melting the sand, the two meet the synthetic green, naturally, "Mutants" pronounced as "Mu-Tants". That, like the Martian human zombies are under the mental power of a real Martian in a bubble. They next meet "Sergeant Rinaldi" who has become a Martian Zombie and communicates for the Martian in the bubble with them.
"Dr. Blake" is placed upon a table and is about to be turned into another zombie.
The Army arrives to save her and "David". They place a time bomb and its now up to everyone to get out through the underground tunnels. Below "David" uses the Martian weapon that melts the sand to escape.
"David" makes it out of the sand pit and begins running with flashbacks going through his mind.
As those who have seen the picture know. "David" suddenly wakes up to find he was having a nightmare, another veiled reference to a Soviet takeover of the United States, and his parents are their normal selves. Once he goes back to bed the thunder storm begins and outside his window the flying saucer arrives and sinks into the sand pit. Is this reality, or is the nightmare just continuing?
In the U,K. the Censors did not like the implication, not political but child psychological, of the films actual ending. To be more specific the Censors were afraid the movie would give British children nightmares. Even though the film was given an "X Certificate" meaning no one under 16 years of age could see it. The U.K. ending has Doctors "Blake" and "Kelston" putting "David" to bed in his house. After reassuring him that his parents are well after having surgery to remove the Alien control device as the movie dissolved to "The End".
CREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN
A great 1950's title was the "Creature with the Atom Brain", released July 1, 1955, from another story and screenplay by Curt Siodmak.
The motion picture starred Richard Denning as Los Angeles Police Criminologist "Dr. Chet Walker". Denning had already been seen in 1948's "Unknown Island", the classic 1953 3-D feature "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and 1954's "Target Earth". In December of 1955 Richard Denning would be seen in Roger Corman's "The Day the World Ended". Television audiences had been watching the actor in "Mr. and Mrs. North" about a Mystery Magazine Publisher who saves real crimes.
Curt Siodmak turned the popular television series, about the real cases of the Los Angeles Police Department, "Dragnet" into a modern zombie story. The plot has gangster "Frank Buchanan" seeking revenge on those who sent him to prison, the Judge, District Attorney and others with a twist. He has brought back from Europe an ex-Nazi scientist "Dr. Wilheim Steigg" to create his reanimated corpse killers.
The scientist removes the dead man's brain and replaces it with the atom brain of the films title. This permits "Buchanan's" voice to be heard by his victim and the gangster and the scientist to watch what is happening through a television set.
When the police investigators run the fingerprints found at the murder scenes. They're amazed to discover they belong to dead criminals. The role of "District Attorney McGraw" was portrayed by actor Tristham Coffin.
Coffin is to the left of Richard Denning in the following still. The actor was "Jeffrey King" in the 1949 Republic serial "King of the Rocket Men", becoming the first actor to wear Republic Pictures rocket man suit
To Denning's right is S. John Launer as "Police Captain Davis Harris" a close friend of "Dr. Walker" and his family. Who in Siodmak's story, becomes one of the zombies. Launer's next two movies were the overlooked 1956 "The Werewolf" and 1957's "I Was a Teenage Werewolf".
"Dr. Walker" figures out what is happening and who is behind it.
The police and a small National Guard troop coverage on the mansion owned by "Buchanan". In response the gangster and scientist send out all their created zombies to fight them.
In the end the dead are once again dead with bullets through their atom brains as well as "Buchanan" and "Dr. Steigg".
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
In 1954 American author Jack Finnay wrote a novel "The Body Snatchers". It was initially serialized in "Colliers Magazine" and then published in 1955 in novel form.
Producer Walter Wanger, Rudolph Valentino's 1921 "The Sheik", John Ford's 1938 "Stagecoach", Randolph Scott's World War 2 movie 1943's "Gung Ho!" and 1954's "Riot in Cell Block 11", acquired the rights to Jack Finney's novel.
Walter Wanger hired a relatively unknown director named Don Siegel to direct. Siegel had directed the producers "Riot in Cell Block 11" and Wanger knew he was perfect for this character driven science fiction picture. The novel's title was slightly changed and became the motion picture "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" released February 5, 1956.
The screenplay was by Daniel Mainwaring. Mainwaring was known for his taught "B" Film Noirs. Such as 1947's "Out of the Past" and 1949's "The Steal". Both had starred Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer. The "B" movies answer to Bogart and Bacall. Then there was 1950's "Lawless" starring Macdonald Carey and the forgotten excellent Civil War detective thriller "The Tall Target". About a man, played by Dick Powell, who discovers the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln,
Don Siegel always denied to his dying day that "Invasion of the Body Snatcher" was not an attack on Senator Joseph McCarthy and the McCarthy Era. However, film historians believe otherwise.
Actor Kevin McCarthy, no relation to Senator Joe McCarthy, portrayed "Miles". He had been acting since 1944 and was a solid supporting actor. McCarthy had appeared 18 times on television and in only 5 motion pictures before this feature. Which he would forever be associated with.
German born English actress Dana Wynter portrayed "Becky Driscoll". By this feature she had appeared on U.S. television 5 times and in either British, or American movies 8 times. They included my favorite Burt Lancaster picture from 1952 "The Crimson Pirate". Later in her career she appeared in 1960's "Sink the Bismarck!" and the excellent murder mystery, from director John Huston, 1962's "The List of Adrian Messenger".
Below Dana Wynter and Kevin McCarthy
The two supporting actors were:
King Donovan as "Jack Belicec. Vaudeville star Donovan had been acting since 1948 and was the face you saw in the movie, but hadn't a clue who he was. His films prior to this picture included two 1953 science fiction entries. These were Ivan Tors "The Magnetic Monster" in which he co-starred with Richard Carlson and Ray Harryhsausen's "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" portraying "Dr. Ingersoll".Among Donovan's directed pictures was 1963's "Promises, Promises" starring Jane Mansfield. The picture is famous for including partial nudity scenes of the actress that made a "Playboy Magazne" spread.
His wife "Theodora 'Teddy' Belicec" was portrayed by Carolyn Jones. Jones who would be televisions "Morticia" on "The Addams Family" had only been acting in the movies and television since 1952. She was a "Party Guest" in George Pal's 1953 "War of the Worlds", but that was followed by the role of "Cathy Gray" in the same years 3-D "House of Wax". After this picture Carolyn Jones co-starred with Micky Ronney in 1957's "Baby Face Nelson", co-starred with Elvis Presley in 1958's "King Creole"and was "Marsha, Queen of Diamonds" on televisions "Batman".
The plot is very simple as a small California town doctor, "Dr. Miles Bennell", is visited by one of his patients. She claims her husband is no longer her husband, but looks like her husband. Then there are other reports of people who look like themselves, but have lost all emotion.
The film, Don Siegel's position aside, reflected to its audiences the Cold War fears of Americans from the growing Communist menace and how we viewed life under the Soviet Union During the 1950's those fears, created by our Government, was mentioned daily in our newspapers and in the new medium of television evening news.
There was a story, actually believed by many Americans at this time, about the death of Joseph Stalin having been faked by the Communist Dictator. The story had "Papa Joe's" face surgically changed and the face of another person changed to his own. The dead body the World saw was not his and he was still alive overseeing the Soviet Union.
That story was made into a 1957 dramatic movie starring Lex Barker and Zsa Zsa Gabor "The Girl in the Kremlin".
Returning to "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". The small California community of Santa Mira is being invaded by plant like giant seed pods from outer space.
There appears to be one seed pod for each town member. When they open a duplicate body is released and over a short period takes on the appearance of memories of that person. The human is killed and replaced by the duplicate emotionless plant version. In short Americans saw themselves as slaves of the Soviet Union.
The impact of the story on American culture was to create the term "POD People".
According to the Urban Dictionary the definition of "Pod Person" is:
A person pretending to be something they aren't, or an impostor. This is inferred because of the old alien movies where alien pods appear on earth and the "pod people" dispose of the humans and slowly reproduce the bodies, pretending to be humans.
The plant zombie like towns people collect the pods, load trucks and head out for another community spreading the invasion. "Becky" and "Miles" are the last humans in the community and flee.
"Becky" can't keep fighting falling asleep and while "Miles" is away, becomes a "POD PERSON".,
"Miles" runs from her and the "POD Person" awaiting for him to go to sleep.
In the end Kevin McCarthy's "Dr. Miles Bennell" is seen running through the streets of the next community yelling:
They're here already! You're next! YOU'RE NEXT!He would be seen still running in San Francisco 22 years later in the first sequel of the picture.
What was not used in Daniel Mainwaring's screenplay was Jack Finney's actual ending. Which might have stopped that McCarthy Era comparison. Finney's reader finds out that the "Pod Person" only lives for 5 years and after the entire Earth is taken over. The seed pods move on to another inhabited World leaving a dead Earth.
IT CONQUERED THE WORLD
Producer and director Roger Corman brought us another outer space invader in "It Conquered the World" on July 15, 1956. Yes, this film is also considered a zombie picture, because of what the Venusian does to certain people.
The following U.K. poster with that "X" Certificate tells all.
Peter Graves was "Dr. Paul Nelson". He made the mistake of contacting the planet Mars in 1952's Cold War thriller "Red Planet Mars". Graves was noted for excellently portraying the trader, actually a German agent, in the POW camp of Otto Preminger's 1953 "Stalag 17". Then be became the prisoner of aliens with eyes that looked like fried eggs in 1954's "Killers from Space"
Lee Van Cleef was "Dr. Tom Anderson". Van Cleef's first film role was as the killer "Jack Colby" in 1952 "High Noon" considered an anti-Joseph McCarthy Western. However, like Don Siegel the director Fred Zinnemann denied that it was. Yet, strangely if it was, the motion picture led to screenplay writer Carl Foreman being "Blacklisted" as a Communist. He would leave the United States and move to the U.K. There he would write, among other works,1957's "The Bridge on the River Kwai", 1961's "The Guns of Navarone" and 1963's "The Victors".
Van Cleef would appear in 1953 as the army rifleman who shoots the radioactive material into Ray Harryhausen's "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" and in four episodes on the early television science fiction series "Space Patrol".
Beverly Garland is "Claire Anderson", "Tom's" wife. Garland had been on both television and in "B" movies since 1949. She had fourth billing as Beverly Campbell in the classic film noir "D.O.A.". In 1956 the actress starred in Roger Corman's "Swamp Women" and Gunslinger". The following year she was in Corman's original "Not of This Earth". Beverly Garland portrayed Eddie Albert's wife in the 1957 Frank Sinatra feature film "The Joker is Wild". Also in 1957 she became the first women to star on a television detective series "Decoy".
Portraying "Joan Nelson" the wife of "Paul" was Sally Fraser. Fraser started her career on television and 51 of her 62 roles are in the medium. Of those 11 film roles besides this picture are three 1958 science fiction films. These are "The Giant from the Unknown", "War of the Colossal Beast" and "The Earth vs the Spider". If you don;t blink too fast my reader will see Sally Fraser as a receptionist in Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 "North by Northwest".
This low budget cult classic has "Tom Anderson" communicate with an alien on the planet Venus. Whom he believes will bring advance science to the Earth and is peaceful., "Tom" is being duped by the Venusian he is communicating with and is now located in a hot springs cave.
Immediately, based upon information "Tom" give the alien. Flying creatures are created and sent out to embed into these chosen human's neck a mental control device. Thereby, turning the person into a zombie like slave.
As "Paul" will not cooperate in what he realizes is a conquest from space. "Tom" gives his name to the Venusian and two flying creatures are sent out to "Paul" and "Joan". When "Paul" returns to his home he finds the controlled "Joan" with a flying creature in her hands for him.
He next kills both the creature and his wife. While this is going on a platoon of army soldiers seems to be lost in the woods around the small town. Don't ask how come they can't find North, or the main highway.
The climax comes when "Clair Anderson", after confronting her husband over what is happening, goes after the Venusian and we see one of creature maker Paul Blaisdell's creations. As "Claire" is killed and her death finally puts "Tom" straight as he teams up with "Paul" to stop the invader.
The alien comes out of the cave, the army platoon stumbles upon the cave entrance, "Tom" has a hand held blow torch and the creature is killed with "Tom".
During the 1950's American's were obsessed, not better word, with Mars and possible invaders from that planet. The motion picture industry went bonkers, another appropriate word, and turned out many movies related to Mars and in second place Venus. My article looking at all of these features can be read at:
Returning to those 1930 and 1940 films was "Voodoo Island" starring Boris Karloff and released in February 1957. The picture was the first of a return to Voodoo and Zombie movies by Independent motion picture studios.
A wealthy man wants to build a major hotel on a Caribbean Island that is supposed to be cursed. He hires renown hoax buster "Phillip Knight", Boris Karloff, to prove there is no curse. However, the island turns out to be inhabited by a strange native tribe, zombies, and carnivorousness plants. The picture is a lot better than you might think.
Among the cast is actor Elisha Cook, Jr. as "Martin Schuyler" Perhaps best remembered for the killer in John Huston's 1941 "The Maltese Falcon" starring Humphrey Bogart. He was in a similar role in another Bogart feature 1946's "The Big Sleep" co-starring Lauren Bacall and in 1959 portrayed the home owner in William Castle's original "House on Haunted Hill" starring Vincent Price.
Portraying "Matthew Gunn" was actor Rhodes Reason. Reason was often confused with his brother Rex. Rhodes starred in the Toho Studio's 1967 "King Kong Escapes" and was in the classic o "Star Trek" episode "Bread and Circuses" in 1968. My article on Rhodes and Rex, 1955's "This Island Earth" and 1956's "The Creature Walks Among Us", can be read at:
Below Rhodes with actress Beverly Tyler as "Sarah Adams".Other than being in the film about the Manhattan Project 1947's "The Beginning or the End". Adams was basically a television actress during the 1950's.
The remaining cast were mostly 1940's "B" movie actors now appearing on television.
ZOMBIES OF MORA TAU
Released in March 1957 from Columbia Pictures and executive producer Sam Katzman, 1955's "Creature with the Atom Brain", Ray Harryhausen's "It Came from Beneath the Sea" and 1956's "Earth vs the Flying Saucers", was a good voodoo cursed treasure story.
The alternate title for this picture was "The Dead That Walk".
What makes this film a cult classic is the appearance of actress Allison Hayes as "Mona Harrison". Hayes, a 1950's scream queen, followed this picture in 1957 with "The Unearthly", Roger Corman's "The Undead" and "The Disembodied". In 1958 Allison Hayes starred as the title role in the "Attack of the 50 Foot Women".
My article on the acting careers of Allison Hayes, Peggie Castle and Gloria Talbott may be read at:
The cast also included Morris Ankrum as "Dr. Jonathan Eggert" and Gregg Palmer as "Jeff Clark". Palmer had been in Universal Studios 1955 "To Hell and Back" starring Audie Murphy as himself and 1956's "The Creature Walks Among US".
Below Ankrum, Palmer and Hayes and Joel Ashley as "George Harrison".
The plot has a group of treasure hunters arriving on the African coast to seek a sunken ship. The ship is guarded by zombie sailors from a decades earlier attempt to get the cursed treasure of diamonds.
Hayes', "Mrs. Harrison", is a stereo typical rich "gold digger" that makes a play for the younger man. However, she gets her comeuppance by becoming a zombie herself.
All the zombies are cursed to protect the treasure of diamonds until they are destroyed.
THE WOMEN EATER
In April of 1958 the U,K, released "The Woman Eater" aka: "Womaneater".
The motion picture starred English actor George Coulouris as "Dr. Moran". Coulouris had been acting since 1933 and was seen in Orson Wells' 1941 :"Citizen Kane", the Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman 1943 "For Whom the Bells Tolls", the 1948 Ingrid Bergman "Joan of Arc", many U.K. and American television programs and would be seen in the Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman 1973 "Papillon".
The story has "Dr. Moran:" going to the Amazon Jungle to find a native serum that is suppose to bring the dead back to life. He witnesses a ceremony in which a native girl is fed to a carnivorous tree to make the serum.
The doctor, the tree, and a native drummer, "Tanga", return to the U.K. Where "Moran" sets up shop by kidnapping and feeding girls to the tree.
There will be a young girl, "Sally", who starts to work with "Dr. Moran" and of course will be a future victim. She has a new boyfriend, "Jack". to rescue her and there is the expected police detective investigating the first girl's disappearance..
After feeding the first girl to the tree "Dr. Moran: and "Tanga" extract the serum and the doctor is able to bring a heart back to life. The zombie part of the story takes place near the end. "Moran" has killed his housekeeper "Margaret" and will bring her back to life. "Margaret" starts to attack "Sally" before the girl can be sacrificed to the tree, but suddenly "Margaret" just drops dead again. "Jack" and the police arrive to save "Sally" as "Dr, Moran" throws a vial of some liquid at the tree causing it to start burning. "Tanga" throws a knife at the doctor killing him and then sits in front of the burning tree in prayer and burns to death with it.
This alien invasion picture was released on May 15, 1959.
The motion picture starred John Agar as "Major Bruce Jay". Agar who had started acting in John Ford's 1948 "Fort Apache" and fell in love and married his co-star Shirley Temple. To the world this was the perfect Hollywood marriage, but Agar caused a scandalous divorce that ended his career with the major studios. Agar would recreate himself as a cult science fiction actor starting with 1955's "Tarantula". The story of his rise, fall, and recreation may be read at:
This very low budget entry is about invisible space aliens raising the dead to conqueror the Earth. The problem facing the army and scientists is how to make the invaders visible to find a way to stop them.
Besides John Agar were three interesting actors.
John Carradine was "Dr. Karol Noymann". He is killed and zombified by the aliens.
Robert Hutton was "Dr. John Lamont". Hutton had been acting since 1943 and this was just one of several science fiction films he would be seen in throughout his career. These included 1958's "The Colossus of New York", 1963's "The Slime People" and 1966's "The Vulture".
Portraying "Lieutenant General Stone" was Paul Langton. Langton starred in the first American movie about the Abominable Snowman 1954's "Snow Creature". He was also in 1957's "The Incredible Shrinking Man" and 1958's "It, the Terror from Beyond Space".
Of course a means of making the aliens visible will be discovered and the zombies destroyed.
November 1959 was a busy month for zombie movies.
PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE
This is Ed Wood's cult classic and ultimate worst movie ever made candidate. The picture was originally released on July 22, 1959.
The movie about aliens using "Plan 9" to raise the dead is known for being Bela Lugosi's final film. In fact he was replaced by a taller person to complete the scenes in the picture.
As the above poster indicates the three main "Stars" were Bela, televisions Horror movie hostess Vampira and veteran actor Lyle Talbot. Who has the distinction of being motion pictures original "Commissioner Gordon" in the 1949 serial "Batman and Robin" and "Lux Luther" in the 1950 serial "Atom Man vs Superman". The rest of the cast were mostly friends of producer and director Ed Wood.
For those of my readers interested in who this cast was. You can find my article at:
Below Vampira and Tor Johnoon. The two just basically walk around in a grave yard, or other scenes in the film as two zombies created by the aliens
Below the aliens, in front of a curtain that is representing the inside of their space ship, with Tor Johnson.
Below the famous shower curtain that is suppose to be separating the pilot and co-pilot from the passenger cabin of the airplane.
THE FOUR SKULLS OF JONATHAN DRAKE
Released November 13, 1959 was "The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake" is an interesting, but forgotten Voodoo entry.
Eduard Franz portrays occult university professor "Jonathan Drake". Among his work were "Judge Louis Brandeis" in 1950's "The Magnificent Yankee", "Dr, Stern" in Howard Hawks' 1951 "The Thing from Another World", "Colonel Klaus von Stauffenberg" in 1951's "The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel" and "Jethro" in Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 "The Ten Commandments",
Valerie French was "Alison Drake". She had co-starred in the Cold War science fiction film 1957's "The 27th Day". The year before she was the female lead in the Western "Jubal" starring Glenn Ford, Rod Steiger and Ernest Borgnine.
Grant Richards was "Detective Lieutenant Rowan". Richards started in the 1936 "B" Western "Hopalong Cassidy Returns" and has portrayed solid supporting roles in many film genres..
Henry Daniel was "Dr, Emile Zurich". Character actor Daniel started in 1929 and prior to this motion picture was seen in such features as 1939's "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" starring Bette Davis and Errol Flynn, Charlie Chaplin's 1940 "The Great Dictator", 1941's "Dressed to Kill" starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as "Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson" and Val Lewton's version of Robert Lewis Stevenson's "The Body Snatcher" directed by "Citizen Kane's" film editor Robert Wise.
"Jonathan Drake" is summoned to his brother "Kenneth's home, but when "Jonathan" arrives. He finds his brother dead and decapitated. The third male member of the "Drake" family under a 180 year old curse to be killed and have his head removed.
The screenplay was well written by Orville H. Hampton. Who had already co-written 1950's "Rocketship X-M" and 1951's "The Lost Continent". Hampton would go on to write screenplays for 1959's "Alligator People" and "Atomic Submarine".
The villain of the piece is "Dr. Zurich" a member of "Jonathan Drake's" ancestor's exploration of a South American jungle region 180 years before. "Captain Drake" was forced to led a rescue party for "Dr. Zurich". They found him beheaded and as a result massacred the entire native tribe.
Working with the voodoo resurrected "Emil Zurich" is "Zutai" a zombie with his mouth sewn shut in the manner of a shrunken head.
The two are caring out the curse upon the "Drake Family" and at the film's climax. The audience learns that "Dr. Zurich's" White man's head had been attached to the body of a dead native to bring
him back to life.
Between 1957 and 1960 there were a series of "Teenage" Horror movies starting with Michael Landon doing a "James Dean" werewolf in 1957's "I Was a Teenage Werewolf". One of the last films to use "Teenage" in its title was "Teenage Zombies" released on April 16, 1960 nationwide, but already seen back on November 18, 1959 in Burlington, North Carolina.
I won't go into the cast, because you wouldn't recognize a single name. Although Katherine Victor, "Dr. Myra", would appear in cult producer and director Jerry Warren's other films. Including 1965's "Creature of the Walking Dead", the same years "House of the Black Death", 1966's "The Wild World of Batwoman" that got Warren sued for copyright infringement and the title became "She Was a Happy Vampire".
Short take here:
Teens "Reg", "Skip", "Julie" and "Pam" have taken a boat out for water-skiing and make the mistake of going ashore on "Dr. Mayra's" island. Who backed by "Foreign Agents" plans to turn the entire population of the United States into mindless zombies.
For my reader interested in those teenage Horror and Science Fiction films of the 1950's with besides Michael Landon, Steve McQueen and Robert Vaughn. My article can be read at:
THE CAPE CANAVERAL MONSTERS
If you thought "Invisible Invaders" and "Plan 9 from Outer Space" was low budget. Meet "The Cape Canaveral Monsters" released in December 1960 as a made for television motion picture, but one I actually saw in a Santa Monica, California theater.
This picture was by Phil Tucker the director and producer of 1953's 3-D "Robot Monster". Described by many film critics as being about an invader in a gorilla suit wearing a fish bowl with TV antenna's on top.
This story written by Tucker is actually good. The picture stars Katherine Victor as "Nadja" and Jason Johnson, was "Hauron" and unlike Victor was actually a very busy actor between motion pictures and television. At the end of his career he had 102 roles to his credit mostly on television.
The two space aliens start the film as two floating white dots and then take over human bodies. The chosen bodies are from two people who were in an automobile accident. Her face is badly torn from the impact and his body is missing a left arm. The arm is found and reattached only to have it ripped off by guard dogs for the Cape Canaveral space site.
Just don't look for anybody you know in this picture, but also don't go out double dating. In this case "Tom Wright", Scott Peters, "Sally Markham", Linda Connell, "Bob Hardin", Gary Travis and "Shirley (No last name)", Thelaine Williams, discover the cave the aliens are in. They get out safely the first time, but, expected plot point, return the next night.
"Bob" dies while being captured and loses his left arm. Perfect for "Nadja" to attach to "Huron". "Shirley" along with "Bob's" corpse are transmitted to the aliens planet for examination.
"Tom" and "Sally" go for help and a plan is made to stop the aliens from transmitting themselves to their home planet to prepare the invasion.
While the plan is being developed "Tom" and "Sally", for a third time, enter the cave and are, obviously, captured once again. Help arrives in the form of Army MP's, Sheriff Deputies and Scientists from Canaveral. The aliens are stopped and the Space program is safe.
As "Sally" and one of the Sheriff Deputies drive away from the cave. The two white dots are seen by them.
THE DEAD ONE
This movie was released sometime in 1961 and thought lost until it was rediscovered in 2001. It is considered the first Zombie movie shot in color and that is its significance to zombie movie lore.
The picture was produced, written and directed by Barry Mahon. You may not have heard of him, but he directed 71 low budget motion pictures, wrote 13 of then and produced 55. His titles include this film, 1961's "Rocket Attack U.S.A.", 1964's Nude's in a Pool", 1967's "Fanny Hill Meets Lady Chatterly" and "The Adventures of Busty Brown". Which gives my reader an idea that he went into the soft porn film business. Don't even look up the cast as most have this one movie to their credit.
This feature was also known as "Blood of the Zombie" and seeing the following still I believe I actually saw this when I was 15, but could not locate a description other than it takes place in the Louisiana swamps.
DOCTOR BLOOD'S COFFIN
This U.K. entry was released in January of 1961 and had a major cast.
Portraying "Dr. Peter Blood" was Kieron Moore. Prior to this picture he was seen in 1951's Biblical movie "David and Bathsheba" starring Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward. The excellent anti-nuke science fiction 1956's "Satellite in the Sky" co-starring a pre-"Miss Moneypenny" Lois Maxwell. Moore was in Walt Disney's "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" in 1959. Which starred a singing Sean Connery and immediately after this picture. Kieron Moore was part of the ensemble cast of 1962's "The Day of the Triffids".
Portraying "Nurse Linda Parker" was Hazel Court. Who had been, among other roles, "Elizabeth" in Hammer Film's 1957 "Curse of Frankenstein" and would co-star in three of Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe stories.
My article on this British scream queen may be read at:
Crimes are occurring along the Cornwall coast. As medical supplies are disappearing from different doctors, but more ominous are people disappearing and the police want to know whats happening.
The village doctor is "Robert Blood" and he is assisted by widowed nurse "Linda Parker". Unknown to both "Robert" and the police. Is that it is "Robert's" reticently returned, from studying biochemistry in Vienna, Austria, son, "Peter", who is behind everything. He has set up a laboratory in an abandoned tin mine.
Below "Peter" and his father "Robert", Ian Hunter, at the village hospital.
"Dr. Blood" is experimenting with the idea of bringing great people back to life. He is developing a serum to reanimate the dead. The climax of the film comes when "Peter" digs up the coffin of "Linda's" dead husband, "Steven:, and reanimates the corpse and he confronts his wife.
The climax comes as the police search for "Dr. Blood" along the shoreline near the tin mine. The corpse of her dead husband, for no apparent reason, attempts to strangle "Linda". "Peter" intervenes and is killed by "Steven" who suddenly drops dead once more.
This feature was released April 13, 1961 in Mexico and is translated as "Infernal Dolls", but known in English language dubs as either "The Curse of the Doll People", or "The Devil Doll Men".
The movie starred the very popular Mexican Horror actor Ramon Gay. Among his films are the "Aztec Mummy" trilogy and "The Face of the Screaming Werewolf". Ramon Gay was shot dead in 1960, before this film was released, over a dispute about an actress.
This movie was actually, illegally based, upon the 1932 novel "Burn Witch, Burn" by Abraham Merritt. Do not confuse that title with the 1962 British movie of the same name. Four men are cursed by a voodoo priest. One by one the members of their family are murdered by dolls that come to life.
SANTO CONTRA LOS ZOMBIES
"Santo vs the Zombies" was originally released in Mexico on May 31, 1962. The picture has "lucha libre" wrestler "Santo (The Saint)" fighting an evil scientist who is creating a race of zombies.
I could not find a description of this entry in the series, but the following link will take my reader to my biography of Rodolfo Guzman Huerta. The Lucha Libre Wrestler known as "Santo" and his motion pictures.
TALES OF TERROR
Writer Richard Matheson, "The Shrinking Man", "I Am Legend" and "Hell House", wrote all of Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe screenplays, but the last. For this feature Matheson adapted three short stories as "Tales of Terror" released July 4, 1962.
My article about Richard Matheson and his work may be read at
The first of the three is what critics consider a zombie story.
The story is Poe's "Morella" and it stars Vincent Price as the father of "Leona Locke" played by Maggie Pierce. "Leona" travels from Boston to the family home to reunite with her father. Things do not go as planned.
He is haunted by his wife "Morella" and doesn't want his daughter at his home. However, "Leona" becomes the means of "Morella's" return and revenge.
"Morella" is portrayed by Leona Gage. "Leona's" mother died in childbirth and is the reason why "Leona's" father never wanted to see her again. However, he leans his daughter has a terminal illness and that softens him. Then one night the spirit of her mother comes back, kills her daughter and takes possession of the body. Once more "Morella" is alive and as beautiful as before.
In the end the house burns around the two as "Morella" gets her revenge.
THE DAY MARS INVADED EARTH
The movie is also known as "Space Raid 63" probably because of the year it was released. It was on a double bill with Elvis Presley's "Kissin' Cousins" on February 14, 1963. The screenplay by Harry Spaulding is sometimes considered a cross between George Pal's 1953 "War of the Worlds" and Don Siegel's 1956 "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". Somebody could also add 1960's "Cape Canaveral Monsters".
Kent Taylor was "Dr. David Fielding". Taylor was a "B" movie actor starting in 1931 and had starred in the 1950's television series "Boston Blackie" and "The Rough Riders". He was also in four episodes of Walt Disney's "Zorro" and the 1955 science fiction movie "The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues".
Below Taylor talks to his Martian double.
Actress Marie Windsor was "Claire Fielding". The "B" actress played strong women such as the manipulative wife in Stanley Kubrick's 1956 "The Killing". She was also in 1953's 3-D "Cat-Women of the Moon" and 1955's "Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy".
The Martians have no physical body, but can duplicate other life forms. They have come to Earth to prevent our space program going any farther toward Mars. NASA launched a probe to the planet's surface and this warned the Martians of our possible intentions. This is a reverse of most such plots as the Martians consider Earth the invaders that must be stopped.
The film is very talky, but the ending is well done. The audience sees "Dave", his wife, their two children and friend "Webb" drive away in the family car. However, the camera moves back to their home and the audience sees five forms made of ash. Three are adults and two children as the wind comes up and blows the ash away. The Martians have started the invasion of Earth.
The movie is apparently better known as "The Atomic Brain" and for the work of four credited screen writers.This picture is basically a reworking of the concept in 1955's "The Creature with the Atom Brain", but without a revengeful gangster and Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein". The picture was released in September 1963.
An elderly wealthy women, "Mrs. March", Marjorie Easton. Pays a scientist, "Dr. Frank", interesting choice of a name, played by Frank Gerstle, to take a new younger body for her and transfer her brain into it.
"Mrs. March" then has her choice of a body from three immigrant, they won't be missed, young women.
Bottom line is the transfer of her brain doesn't goes as planned. As it appears that a new brain in a zombie like body doesn't work and both the brain matter and body deteriorate. Didn't one of the four writers, two producers or the director of this movie. Ever see the outstanding sequel to Hammer Films 1957 "The Curse of Frankenstein" entitled 1958's "The Revenge of Frankenstein"? In the end they were remaking it.
Now comes one of the greatest titles in voodoo movie history.
THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED-UP ZOMBIES!
Released on February 10, 1964 and starring Cash Flagg as "Jerry". Actually Flagg was producer, writer and director Ray Dennis Steckler.
"Jerry", his girlfriend "Angela" and his buddy "Harold" go to a seaside carnival. The picture was filmed at Long Beach, California's "The Pike".The three go into a venue and watch an alcoholic girl named "Marge" dance. After her performance "Marge" sees a Black Cat and goes to fortuneteller "Estrella" and is told of her pending death. Terrified she runs out of "Estrella's" booth and past the three friends. They decide to visit "Estrella" to have their fortunes told. "Estrella" tells them that there will be death near water for somebody close to "Angela".
Actually "Estrella" and her sister "Carmelita" are actually turning people into zombies.
By pictures end the zombies turn on the sisters and the police kill the zombies.
THE LAST MAN ON EARTH
"The Last Man On Earth" starred Vincent Price and was made in Italy to save money.
Richard Matheson started the screenplay based upon his novella "I Am Legend", but didn't like the resulting film and had his name changed on the screen credits to "Logan Swanson". This was the first of four versions, to date, of that story. The second was 1971's "The Omega Man" starring Charlton Heston, the third was "I Am Legend" starring Will Smith in 2007 and the fourth a straight to video version, by the movie group "The Asylum", the same year entitled "I Am Omega" starring Mark Dacacos.
The basic premise has Price's "Dr. Robert Morgan" believing a vampire bat's bite protected him from a plague that engulfed the world. The plague killed his wife and daughter and many others, but has also turned the surviving plague victims into the walking dead. Like vampires, which they are not, they come out at night, because their eyes are sensitive to daylight.
By day "Morgan" hunts and kills them as walks the empty streets of the city. By night he stays in his fortress like home for protection. The plague survivors want "Morgan: dead for no other reason then he represents what they once where.
THE CURSE OF THE LIVING CORPSE
Released on April 1, 1964 "The Curse of the Living Corpse" was produced, written and directed by low budget movie maker Del Tenney. I will be mentioning two other of his nine films in this article.
Although he had four television roles this feature was the first motion picture for actor Roy Scheider as "Philip Sinclair". In 1892 "Rufus Sinclair" suffers from catalepsy and fears being buried alive. He leave detailed instructions on what to do, if he appears dead.
"Rufus" has one of his attacks, but eager to claim their inheritance. The family has him immediately buried and does not follow the instructions left them.
Then one by one a masked figure is killing the other members of the family. Has "Rufus Sinclair" come back from the dead?
The film is a cop out as there is no living dead man, but "Philip" killing off everyone else.
HORROR OF PARTY BEACH
This was also made by Del Tenney and released June 1, 1964. Like the above picture it appears on some film lists as of zombie movie, but it is a strange variation of living dead and toxic waste. Along with ripping off the two already released Frankie and Annette "Beach Party" movies. Tenney also used a William Castle style gimmick "The Fright Release".
Understand this was suppose to be a serious Horror movie. The plot has radioactive toxic waste being dumped over the skeletal remains of the crew of a sunken ship. The waste brings the skeletons back to life, but not as the typical zombies. They have become sea creatures who start attacking young people partying on the beach.
In the end the monsters are destroyed, but not before the audience is laughing at their looks.
THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING
On October 14, 1964 the British Space Invasion, not the music invasion led by "The Beatles", was on in "The Earth Dies Screaming".
"B" American actor Willard Parker, the television Western series, from 1955 to 1958, "Tales of the Texas Rangers", was "Jeff Nolan".
British actress Virginia Field was "Peggy Hatton". Field was in both "A" and "B" movies on both sides of the Atlantic. She appeared in several of Peter Lorre's "Mr. Moto" series and was "Morgan Le Fay" in the 1949 Bing Crosby musical version of Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court".
There is a mysterious gas attack which kills most of the Earth's population followed by the arrival of alien robots. The robots are impervious to bullets and kill humans with just a touch of their hands.
The robots victims arise from the dead as zombies.
A group of survivors fight the robots and eventually make it to the airport. There they fly a plane out of London and start flying south to find other survivors. As the film ends with the robots in total control of the Earth.
The film was from director Terence Fisher. Among his work for Hammer Films were 1957's "The Curse of Frankenstein", 1958's "Dracula" aka: "Horror of Dracula", the very good 1959 "Hound of the Baskervilles" and the same years "The Mummy". All starring the Horror team of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
American film historian and director Wheeler Winston Dixon wrote in 2014:
.. it's remarkable to note than [sic] in a 62 minute film, the first five to six minutes have conveyed Fisher’s vision of the end of civilization entirely through a dispassionate series of images ... Much of the film, involving the pursuit of the living by the dead, is done entirely through gesture...
I EAT YOUR SKIN
Another movie by Del Tenney was actually filmed sometime in 1964, the reason I mention it here, but was not released until October 29, 1971 seven years later.
The movie was aka: Zombie Blood Bath" and Voodoo Blood Bath"..The plot is stated as a novelist looking for material for a new work. He accidentally finds a mad scientist trying to reverse the aging process, voodoo and zombies. No one eats anyone's skin in the movie.
In 1988 Wes Craven would make the excellent "The Serpent and the Rainbow" starring Bill Pullman and based upon the actual experiences of anthropologist Wade Davis in Haiti. He was investigating the death of Clarivius Narcisse by voodoo. A far better film than this one.
CREATURE OF THE WALKING DEAD
Producer and director Jerry Warren, "Teenage Zombies", was back with "Creature of the Walking Dead" released June 15, 1965. Which was actually the Mexican 1961 motion picture "La Marca del Muerto (Mark of the Dead)" with added American footage including some with Karen Victor as a fortuneteller.
A 19th Century scientist discovers the secret of eternal life by draining the blood from young victims. He is hung for his crimes and his Grandson brings him back to life and continues his work.
THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES
This is an overlooked motion picture from Hammer Studios released in the U,K, on January 9, 1966.
The movie stars Andre Morell as "Sir James Forbes". Morell was "Professor Bernard Quatermass" in the third BBC series "Quaternass and the Pitt". The movie version played in the United States as "Five Million Years to Earth". Andre Morell was in the 1957 "The Bridge on the River Kwai", portrayed "Dr. Watson" to Peter Cushing's "Sherlock Holmes" in Hammer's 1959 "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and would provide the voice of "Elrond" in Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated "The Lord of the Rings".
I love great character actors and one of the best for Hammer was Michael Ripper. Below and seen to the left of Andre Morell in the second still.
My article on "The House of Hammer" which includes a biography of Michael Ripper, a complete look at the "Quartermass" television and motion pictures, a biography of director Terrence Fisher and one on make-up artist Philip Leakey, May be read at:
In August of 1860 the townspeople of a small Cornish village are dying from a strange plague. The local doctor "Peter Tompson", Brook Williams, cannot discover what it is and goes to his friend "Sir James Forbes" for help.
The two men decide to disinter the coffins of the recently dead to see what they can find, but discover they're all empty. Further, investigation leads the two to "Squire Clive Hamilton", John Carson, who lived in Haiti, practiced voodoo rituals, and is now creating zombies.
When "Sir James" arrived he brought along his daughter "Sylvia", Diane Claire, whom "Peter" has fallen in love with. Of course she is taken by the zombies to "Squire Hamilton".
Will she be saved? Will "Squire Hamilton" and the zombies be stopped?
The British "Monthly Film Bulletin" for February 26, 1966 wrote:
The best Hammer Horror for quite some time, with remarkably few of the lapses into crudity which are usually part and parcel of this company's work,----Visually the film is splendid, with elegantly designed sets, and both interiors and exteriors shot in pleasantly muted colours; and the script manages quite a few offbeat strokesMarcus Hearn and Alan Barnes in their "The Hammer Story: The Authorized History of Hammer Films" wrote:
---much has been said of The Plague of the Zombies' influence on genre landmark Night of the Living Dead, made in 1968. A unique and shocking experiment in pushing the parameters of Hammer horror, The Plague of the Zombies deserves greater recognition in its own rightSpeaking of George Romero's classic. Five months prior to its release was the last of the ridiculous zombie movies. It wasn't even on the level of 1943's "Revenge of the Zombies" even with the same mad scientist.
Released on May 19, 1968 and co-starring John Carradine was "The Astro-Zombies".
The big name star, in his final motion picture, was Wendell Corey. Who the following month died on November 8, 1968 at age 54. In 1950 Wendell Corey co-starred with Joan Crawford in "Harriet Craig". He was"Frank James" in 1951's "The Great Missouri Raid" opposite Macdonald Carey as "Jesse"/ Corey co-starred in the 1952 James Stewart feature bout the inventor of the carbine rifle "Carbine Williams". In 1954 he was again paired with Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window".
The plot has a disgruntled ex-NASA scientist, Carradine of course, murdering people to create zombies to get his revenge. Corey is the CIA agent investigating the zombie murders. At one point the zombies escape and the plot adds an International Spy ring wanting to get the secret of their creation from Carradine.
On October 31, 1968 zombie movies changed forever with the release of George Romero's original "Night of the Living Dead".