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“If there’s one thing I wouldn’t want to be twice, zombies is both of them”
Ah, googly-eyed Mantan Moreland. A star from back in the day when there was no such thing as Racism. Playing the standard role of ‘Scared Servant’ in almost all of his films, he parts with tradition for King of the Zombies and takes on the roll of ‘Scared Servant’. His job here is apparently to accompany his employer and friend on a plane which crashes onto a graveyard on a miscellaneous Caribbean island, and to be scared of everything.
This Island is the property of Miklos Sangre (Bela Lugosi – sorry, some actor called Henry Victor doing his best Lugosi impression). Sangre is an Austrian who has fled to the Caribbean, and apparently uses this base to radio out to some unknown people who all speak German.
Mantan and his team crash land on this island in 1941 just before WWII breaks out (or rather slap bang in the middle of WWII for the rest of the world) and are taken to Sangre’s mansion to await rescue. Because Mantan is a Servant (ie Black) he is told he cannot take a bedroom in the mansion with his employers but has to sleep in the Kitchen with the other Servants, and it is here that he meets the Zombies. Although being Pre-Romero these Zombies don’t actually do much other than look creepy while they queue up for their rations.
Well, it turns out that Sangre is actually an evil Nazi and has kidnapped another plane crash victim from the US army and is trying to extract war information from him by turning him into a hypnotised zombie. Stumbling into this plot is old Moreland who gets zombified by Sangre (for a while), which means he too has to act creepy and eat his rations. (Eating rations is apparently all that Zombies did back in the 40’s.)
It’s not a bad little movie really, although the plot is thread-bare the enjoyment comes purely from Mantans’ jokes and ludicrous scared expressions. Everything else is pretty much just padding between Moorland’s scenes, but that’s no bad thing. It’s also of interest to see just how Black actors were cast and treated back then, which would be hugely offensive if released in modern times but is now just an interesting snapshot of an outmoded era of cinema.
Gore Score D
Norks Score F
Originality Score F
Overall Score C