Sunday, March 12, 2006

Revolt of the Zombies

Directed by Victor Halperin, 1936

All right! I’m pretty stoked that Revolt of the Zombies offers Asian zombies instead of the clichéd Caribbean islander zombies. What’s more, I find their verbiage fascinating: the word zombie is freely interchanged with robot. These robot zombies built Angkor Wat, and now the Allies want the secret of making zombies for military purposes. An armed squad of Cambodian zombies demonstrates their usefulness in war; though not physically different from live men they are nevertheless impervious to bullets or fear.

Seeking the zombie process in Angkor Wat, a couple of people fall in love, someone else goes mad from jealousy, and some others die. The zombies do indeed revolt but their zombifying spell has been broken by then, making it less a revolt of zombies and more a revolt of really angry ex-zombies.

Zombie explanation: An “Oriental ceremony” centered around zombifying smoke. The eventual zombie master creates armies of live robots for love of a woman.

Contribution to the zombie canon: While it still falls under the early 20th century problem of using zombies to inflame racial insensitivity, I appreciate the unusual choice of Asian zombies. The verbal association of zombie and robot is pretty hip, too—if only they were also monkey ninja pirates!

Favorite moment: The overused image of Bela Lugosi’s eyes, stolen from White Zombie.

No comments: