A man named Charles Beaumont (Robert Frazer) is in love with a woman named Madeline (Madge Belami) but she is about to wed Neil Parker (John Harron) in which he turns to an evil witch doctor named 'Murder' Legendre (Bela Lugosi) in order to have her love him instead but he has deadly plans for her in which he has a power to raise the dead and wants to use her as one of his zombie's.
Neil is devastated after he finds out that Madeline dies on their wedding day and goes to the aid of Dr. Bruner (Joseph Cawthorn) after witnessing that her body has been taken from her coffin and controlled by 'Murder' in which he tries to stop his madness by raising these zombie's which includes Madeline herself.
The beginning of this film looked fairly impressive here as we spot a chant of a group of people like they're doing a cult ceremony only to be appearing as zombie's but of course this was long before spotting them not looking human at all or grotesque in any way whatsoever. Also it looked perfect with the coach driver in fear telling the couple that they are passing by the living dead and trying to escape in which this for sure would leave a chill down your spine back in the days but not so much now. Good foggy shots on zombie's walking by a steep hill in the fog to make this moment look perfectly dark. the coach driver tells a great explanation on what zombie's are which is of course a great start to the zombie craze.
We spot some perfect situations with one of the character's named Neil Parker in a carriage and a nice shot on the coach driver which looked lifeless as well as wearing a strange type of necklace which leaves you in a wonder if this person is a zombie especially when we spot Neil looking shocked by all of this. There's also great shots on a some sort of a slavery type factory with people pushing an object as this also looked nicely shot and making you wonder if these people are zombie's too. Plus we have a great introduction by the lead character 'Murder' Legendre with his wicked actions as well as explaining on what he does as this was nicely put in to the story here. It certainly looked pretty dark and almost gothic like.
There's some nice moments with people celebrating a wedding in which there's a good moment with the bride Madeline proposing and then we spot 'Murder' some weird voodoo type witchcraft using a wax figure and burning it and then her fainting which seemed to work in well and inspiring other horror flicks over the decades to use similar situations such as this one. This scene was a real attention grabber.
We have another perfect scene with Charles Beaumont joining 'Murder' to show him his zombie's out in the dark night with great shots on all of this which still seems spooky standing out today. Plus great shots on everyone dragging out Madeline's coffin as well as a great close up shot on a door open to spot her with her eyes shut in which this leaves a creepy feel that she will be resurrected into one of 'Murder's' zombie slaves. This looked incredibly well done.
We even spot Madeline playing the piano with a lifeless expression as well as Charles trying to talk to her in which this also looked well set and mysterious to watch since we've never seen a zombie do this at all in any of those kinds of flicks.
Some good strong discussions with Dr. Bruner and Neil on the case of 'Murder' and what he's doing to others which looked good and strongly dramatic.
There's strong madness involving Charles towards 'Murder' as well as his servant about to attack 'Murder' along with good shots on him using his powers and a nice blurry shot on him too which draws your attention that he's putting an evil spell on him. Plus things looked good and intense when he gets his zombies to drag this servant away and about to do something horrible to him. It stands out well even in this day. Plus we get shots on a screeching vulture from a window adding more nice intense horror touches to the story here.
More energetic moments with a classic battle between Charles towards 'Murder' as well as his zombie's which looked powerful to spot all of this as well as Charles himself standing near a cliff which keeps you in suspense wondering if he will survive all of this. Plus some good moments on 'Murder' trying to control Madeline as well as Charles trying to talk to her in which you wonder on what will become of this situation which was strongly drawn in here.
Bottom line is that this is the first mainstream zombie flick and nothing like what we see later on with them eating human flesh or anything like that along with evil voodoo powers which also made this piece fairly entertaining. However sometimes the story looked a little tiring and not as suspenseful in other parts like it was supposed to have been. This is an interesting one regardless and inspired the heavy metal band of the same name decades later. Had dysfunctional values and a film that stands alone not needing any sequels either once you watch the flick all the way through.
The acting was quite good for it's time in which we have the legendary Bela Lugosi ('Murder' Legendre) portraying the villainous role as he often does and for sure had the perfect looks for this as well as showing a great evil expression to what he does here. Plus he does well with his wicked attitude by the way he hisses while speaking as well as acting believeably controlling too in many spots of the film. He was for sure a perfect horror character for this flick and the best out of the whole cast here.
Madge Belami (Madeline Short Parker) does a nice job with her portrayal in this one having the soft spoken type of attitude and mellow behavior too. Plus had the nice innocence in her presence here. However there's a moment when she falls and dies which seemed a bit off yet looked impressive during it's time I'm sure. She does a nice job with her expressionless behavior while becoming a zombie which is very noticeable here. She knew her craft quite well in what she had to portray here.
Joseph Cawthorn (Dr. Bruner) came off perfectly as someone with intelligence and was very strong and creative while speaking his lines in which he draws some interesting characteristics into his role. He does a nice job by acting dramatic as well as showing off some good energy while getting involved in a struggle near the end of the film.
Robert Frazer (Charles Beamont) seemed to come across nicely acting convincingly charming into what he had to do while introducing himself in one of his first scene's. Plus does a good job while acting upset and trying to talk to someone which he shows some nice emotions here. Plus does a great job losing control and acting intense with his upsetting type of behavior which also looked perfectly well done here.
John Harron (Neil Parker) acted like a perfect basket case within his part in the flick as he studied this role very well after experiencing his bride's death. Plus shows some perfect blocking with his violent reactions while getting drunk which shows good timing here. Does a great job with his anxious behavior like he's losing his sanity which looked impressive. Also does well having shcoked reactions along with showing great struggling energy quarter way through his performance. He also shows perfect emotions when trying to talk to his onscreen bride which he shows a perfect focus on all of this.
The music was perfectly orchestrated in which we hear alot of adventureous composing for the suspenseful areas with the violin playing especially the bass tones. Plus we hear some perfectly flute and trombone playing too. Also there's some good feel for the sad or tragic moments too in which the sounds of this was nice and clear too. We hear the odd drum booming too which sounds powerful and giving it an echoey feel to it all. All of this was nicely put in by Xavier Cugat who was uncredited for some silly reason here.
Madeline: Driver, who were those men we saw?
Coach Driver: They are not men, madame. They are dead bodies!