A scene from REVOLT OF THE ZOMBIES, directed by Victor Halperin for Academy Pictures Distributing Corporation.

Revolt of the Zombies (1936, Victor Halperin)

What an unmitigated disaster.

It takes a lot for me to open with such a statement–well, maybe not, but certainly for a film I finished watching, even if it only does run sixty-two minutes.

But Revolt of the Zombies might be one of the worst things ever and really shouldn’t be. Okay, worst things ever is an overstatement, but it really should have been better.

It opens as a war film, set during the first World War, with zombies–the brainwashed kind, not the flesh-eating–being used as a weapon. Interesting idea, kind of groundbreaking for 1936. But then the film rushes off to Cambodia, where a bunch of Europeans take time off from the war to try and destroy the secret of zombies, so no other power can use it.

Then the film turns into this turgid soap opera with Dorothy Stone playing a scheming harpy who seduces and gets engaged to Dean Jagger in hopes of getting his best friend, Robert Noland, interested in her.

Once she does, Jagger loses it and starts turning everyone into a zombie in order to win her.

Or some such nonsense. It’s really hurried and almost impossible to follow… with some of the terrible acting–Jagger and Stone are particularly atrocious–to complement the terrible script.

There’s some nice rear screen footage of Angkor, but the film’s dreadfully cheap. There’s zero filmmaking ingenuity here–Halperin’s direction seems almost embarrassed.

It might’ve had a chance if they’d stayed in France.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Victor Halperin; written by Victor Halperin, Howard Higgin and Rollo Lloyd; director of photography, Jockey Arthur Feindel and Arthur Martinelli; edited by Douglass Biggs; produced by Edward Halperin; produced by Academy Pictures Distributing Corporation.

Starring Dorothy Stone (Claire Duval), Dean Jagger (Armand Louque), Roy D’Arcy (Col. Mazovia), Robert Noland (Clifford Grayson), George Cleveland (Gen. Duval), E. Alyn Warren (Dr. Trevissant), Carl Stockdale (Ignacio MacDonald), William Crowell (Priest Tsiang), Teru Shimada (Buna) and Adolph Milar (Gen. von Schelling).

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