Pollyanna’s Dreaming of a White Zombie

Just like the zombies I used to know…

Lyda here. But y’all know that already. Yes, another break from packing and apartment hunting. Who knew the apartment offices are all closed on Sunday? Obviously not me. I’ve got a couple of leads, so fingers crossed one of them works out.

Did I mention that we saw “Zombieland” (2009)? I don’t think I did. It was great. Very funny, with one of the best guest cameos ever. I won’t tell you more except that y’all will love it. These are modern, fast-moving, brain-and-body-eating zombies. There is plenty of blood and some gore, but there are also plenty of laughs. It was a LOT funnier than we expected. Woody Harrelson is over-the-top in a good way, and Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin are fantastic, but the character that holds the movie together is the young guy, played by Jesse Eisenburg (he’s also my favorite). His “rules for surviving Zombieland” are very funny, and pretty good too. My favorite rule? Double tap. How many times have you seen someone shoot / hit / blow up a zombie / monster / villian, only to have it rise up again? Double tap, baby.

This movie is on my “movies to own” wish list, for sure.

For less speed, no gore, and only unintentional humor in your zombie movie experience, there is  “White Zombie” (1932) with Bela Lugosi. Filmed on the studio lot, this has the first piano-playing zombie that I’ve seen. It’s also one of the few where the zombies can be turned back into living humans.

These are not your modern, speedy, brain-eating zombies. These are very slow moving, unaggressive, and hard working zombies. Most of the zombies work in the sugar cane mill. There is a “plight of the common worker” subtext in the mill scenes. For example, one zombie falls into the machinery and the machinery just keeps grinding on, literally. No one notices or cares that he’s been added to the processed sugar. My Zombie Army says: Undeath to the Zombie Oppressors! Or they would, if they could say more than “Braiiinnnssss!”

The piano-playing zombie is the main zombie in the film. She is an ethereally beautiful blond who is turned into a zombie on her wedding day by the stupid rich man she rejected. You can’t really tell that much different in her pre- and post-zombification. The casting director was looking for “beautiful blond” not “blond who can act her way out of a paper bag”.

Lesson:  Obsession in the rich can be a dangerous thing. Especially if there is an evil scientist around turning people into zombies. 

Basically it’s the old story: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy turns girl into zombie.

Girl then wanders around vacantly – but still ethereally beautiful, no rotting at all – and does whatever he commands her to do.

Like play the piano.

Because that’s what men want in a beautiful female slave.

Piano playing.

Well, that’s what I heard.

But after all, it was made in 1932, when piano-playing was as sexual as most movies got.

It could have been the first time most of the audience had even heard of zombies.  It could be the first full-length zombie movie ever made, but I didn’t find confirmation of that.  The acting has been widely panned. Weirdness Alert – According to one fan, this is the movie that Ed Wood and Bela Lugosi are watching in the scene in “Ed Wood” (1994).

The last scene, at the top of the castle – because even in the West Indies, evil scientists have castles, right? – between the hero and the rich guy and Bela Lugosi, with various zombies added in, is interesting, if only for the change of scenery. It’s nice to see the zombies out getting some fresh air instead of stuck in the sugar mill.

The piano playing is only fair. But hey, not bad for an undead chick.

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