Saturday, April 1

Zombies movies on platforms, Movistar, Netflix, HBO: Zombies in Haiti

Image of ‘I walked with a zombie’ / RC

Two films about the walking dead, which were never released in Spanish cinemas, are hidden on the platforms


The cinema is full of zombie movies, but among them, browsing the platforms, you can find two jewels, pioneers in the genre, with a common link, the undead are in Haiti, homeland of voodoo, where zombies acquire all their sense. They are ‘The legion of men without a soul’ and ‘I walked with a zombie’, two titles that, thanks to their link, dialogue perfectly. Both can be seen on Movistar +, the first for a year (expires June 30, 2023) and the second this month (June 30, 2022).

‘The League of Soulless Men’ (1932)

Also known as ‘The White Zombie’, it is directed by Victor Halperin, a director who is not very famous in the genre (he barely directed six titles of which this was his first film), which featured Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, Robert Frazer and Brandon Hurst. The beginning seems like a replica of ‘Dracula’, which had triumphed precisely with Bela Lugosi a few months earlier: A couple in love travels to Haiti invited by a mysterious man who just by quoting him arouses terror among the locals. A man named Charles Beaumont (Robert Frazer) has a job for the sinister Murder Legendre (Bela Lugosi). Having heard of his ability to make slaves of those who take his drug for use on his plantation, Beaumont wants Legendre to help him get a young woman named Madeleine Short Parker (Madge Bellamy) for him. For this reason, he invites the girl and her boyfriend Neil (John Harron) to marry him on his plantation in Haiti, in order to administer the drug to the young woman, mixing it with the contents of her glass, since the young woman has rejected him in several occasions. What Beaumont doesn’t know is that Legendre has plans of his own. Legendre proposes something terrible: turn the girl into a zombie and make her boyfriend believe that he is dead. The evil plan is carried out, but when Beaumont realizes that the zombie girl has no will of her own, he asks Legendre to bring her back to life; however the villain has plans of his own. An army of zombies rob graves and take the bodies to a sugar refinery where the zombies work non-stop grinding cane sugar for their evil creator, Murder Legendre.

The film is considered the first appearance of zombies as such (apart from vampires in the service of their master) in the history of cinema. It is a horror tale developed at a time of maximum splendor for fantastic cinema in which the performance of Bela Lugosi and the visual design, within the tight budget, create a suggestive atmosphere of a gothic nightmare and turn the film into a one of the most respected in the genre. Bela Lugosi agreed to shoot this low-budget movie in a season he had free after his recent success in ‘Dracula’. With the hook of its name, the film was a huge box-office success, covering hundreds of times its ridiculous budget of just under $70,000, and making its producers rich. The shoot lasted eleven days, of which Lugosi only worked three. In the few minutes that he appears on screen, Lugosi gives one of his most memorable performances.

Image from ‘The League of Soulless Men’. /


‘I walked with a zombie’ (1943)

A masterpiece of fantastic horror on the theme of voodoo, directed by Frenchman Jacques Tourneur in Hollywood, where he settled fleeing the Nazi occupation of his country. It stars James Ellison, Frances Dee, Tom Conway, Edith Barrett and James Bell and it could be said that it seems distantly inspired by Charlotte Brontë’s novel ‘Jane Eyre’: Betsy Cornell (Frances Dee), a young Canadian woman, accepts the job as a nurse for the Holland family, resident on a Caribbean island. Paul Holland (Tom Conway) is a powerful sugar industrialist and his wife Jessica (Christine Gordon) suffers from a mysterious and inexplicable illness, an incurable disease that has turned her into a zombie, into something ghostly, into a living dead, it would seem that between life and death, without any noticeable change in their state. Shortly after arriving, Betsy begins to be courted by Wesley Rand (James Ellison), Paul’s stepbrother, who is the one Betsy is really in love with. However, the nurse decides to cure Jessica to make Paul happy. Little by little, everything that the nurse discovers, together with the local voodoo legends and rites, makes her worry first and then her terror.

In just 69 minutes, Tourneur manages to create a disturbing atmosphere based on barely suggested elements, which transcends a vulgar intrigue due to its fantastic elements, giving the zombies great prominence. The film could never be released in Spanish cinemas.

In fact, neither of the two films could be seen in Spanish theaters. Only over the years were they broadcast by Spanish Television.

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