King of the Zombies
|King of the Zombies|
Promotional film poster
|Directed by||Jean Yarbrough|
|Produced by||Lindsley Parsons|
|Written by||Edmond Kelso|
|Music by||Edward J. Kay|
|Edited by||Richard C. Currier|
|Distributed by||Monogram Pictures Corporation|
|Release dates||May 14, 1941|
|Running time||67 minutes|
During World War II, a Capelis XC-12 plane somewhere over the Caribbean runs low on fuel and is blown off course by a storm. Guided by a faint radio signal, they crash-land on an island. The passenger, his manservant and the pilot take refuge in a mansion owned by a doctor. The quick-witted yet easily frightened manservant (Mantan Moreland) soon becomes convinced the mansion is haunted by zombies, and confirms this with some of the doctor's hired help. Exploring, the three stumble upon a voodoo ritual being conducted in the cellar, where the doctor, who is in reality a foreign spy, is trying to acquire war intelligence from a captured US Admiral whose plane had crashed in a similar fashion on the island. But the interruption causes the zombies to turn on their master.
- Dick Purcell as James "Mac" McCarthy
- Joan Woodbury as Barbara Winslow
- Mantan Moreland as Jefferson "Jeff" Jackson
- Henry Victor as Dr. Miklos Sangre
- John Archer as Bill Summers
- Patricia Stacey as Alyce Sangre
- Guy Usher as Admiral Arthur Wainwright
- Marguerite Whitten as Samantha, the Maid
- Leigh Whipper as Momba, the Butler
- Madame Sul-Te-Wan as Tahama, the Cook and High Priestess
- James Davis as Lazarus, a Zombie
- Laurence Criner as Dr. Couillie
The role of Dr. Miklos Sangre was intended for Béla Lugosi. When he became unavailable, negotiations ensued to obtain Peter Lorre for the part, but a deal could not be reached. Veteran character actor Henry Victor was signed just prior to the date of filming.
In the press kit for this film, Monogram advised exhibitors to sell "it along the same lines as Paramount's The Ghost Breakers (1940)." The Bob Hope horror/comedy was a runaway hit at the time.
Produced and released prior to U.S. entry into World War II, the film seems to portray Nazi Germany as the enemy behind the scenes. The villain claims to be from Austria, radio traffic is spoken in German and there are spoken references to spying, although neither Germany or Nazis are overtly mentioned. The plot, described in the press kit, describes the evil Dr. Sangre as "a secret agent for a European government."
The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music (Music Score of a Dramatic Picture) (Edward Kay).
Two years later, in 1943, the film was followed by a sequel, of sorts, called Revenge of the Zombies which included two of the original cast members. Mantan Moreland reprised his role as Jeff. Madame Sul-Te-Wan was cast as Mammy Beulah, the housekeeper.
Drums! Uh oh! That's my cue to be parading on out of here! —Jeff
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to King of the Zombies.|
- King of the Zombies at the Internet Movie Database
- King of the Zombies at AllMovie
- King of the Zombies is available for free download at the Internet Archive