Friday, September 20, 2013

Movie of the Week: King of Zombies (Review)

During World War II, a small plane off the south coast of America is low on fuel and blown off course by a storm. Guided by a faint radio signal, they crash-land on an island. The passenger (John Archer), his manservant (Mantan Moreland), and the pilot (Dick Purcell) take refuge in a mansion owned by a doctor (Henry Victor). The easily-spooked manservant soon becomes convinced the mansion is haunted by zombies and ghosts. Exploring, the 3 find a voodoo ritual in the cellar, where the doctor is trying to acquire war intelligence by transferring personalities into his zombies. But the interruption causes the zombies to turn on their creator. [IMDb]

First off, this movie actually was somewhat entertaining (despite what you'll read from here on). As stated by a lot of people in comments and reviews, Mantan Moreland (as Jefferson "Jeff" Jackson) definitely overshadows his co-stars, but "surprisingly" his character is driven by racial stereotypes. 

Throuhgout the movie, he's understandably nervous about his surroundings, but of course, his nervousness is at a level so extreme that it makes him almost childlike (see: inferior). 

Mantan Moreland & his trademark expression (Screenshot from movie)

Early into the movie, I found myself turned off by the way in which Jeff was being treated. First off, his boss--"Mr. Bill" (John Archer)--leads him and the pilot ("Mac"--played by Dick Purcell) to a mansion that Jeff doesn't want to go anywhere near. When they get to the door, Mr. Bill tells Jeff to "Ring the doorbell."

 However, Jeff quickly says something along the lines of: "I'm not ringin' it, you the one who wants to go in there, you ring it!"

Then, once in the mansion, its owner, Dr. Sangre (played by Henry Victor) automatically assumes that Jeff is Bill and Mac's servant (of course) and sends him to the servants' quarters (the kitchen) to sleep--and another "of course", there is no objection to this. But hey, this really isn't anything to be shocked about.


As stated before, this movie was ridden with racial stereotypes and misconceptions about certain aspects of Black culture, but I still found it somewhat entertaining (mostly thanks to Mantan Moreland) and not completely unbearable. I enjoyed seeing actress Marguerite Whitten on the screen for the first time and of course, seeing the unsung legend, Madame Sul-Te-Wan was a treat as well. Madame played a voodoo priestess in this movie--a role that wasn't new to her, but as she always, she played it very well. 

Madame Sul-Te-Wan
(Photo Source)

Also, this was one of the very few roles she was actually credited for.

I'm usually able to watch stereotyped-filled movies through many lenses (particularly a (future) filmmaker's lens) without feeling bogged down, but this time, I could barely do it. Maybe I've had my "fill" of it (in both Film and society) and simply couldn't put myself into the necessary mind frame. 
Either way, I wouldn't dissuade anyone from watching this movie, especially if you're interested in seeing the talents of some unsung black performers--Mantan Moreland, Marguerite Whitten, Madame Sul-Te-Wan, etc.

Click the link below to check it out!

(This link will take you to The King of Zombies on Youtube)



Click here to check out a post from February that includes a brief summary of Madame Sul-Te-Wan's career and achievements!


All of the images in this post are for informational purposes only. If the rightful owner of any of these images wishes to have them remove, please contact me, and I will do so immediately.

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