#318 -- Revenge of the Zombies (1943)

Director: Steve Sekely
Rating: 3 / 5

It's really amazing how watching these old zombie movies can make you realize just how much they've changed. As if it isn't obvious to being with, watching things like this will make it certain. It seems like, back then, they still went the route of the Haitian zombies -- portraying them more like servants than flesh-eating monsters. I haven't seen many of the really old, pre-Romero zombie movies, but the ones I have seen make me really appreciate what he did for them. If zombies had stayed like this, I don't think they would have stuck with us the way they have. There would be no Plants vs. Zombies or -gasp!- The Walking Dead, even. Zombies would be what they're supposed to be: dead. But I digress. The point is, zombies were way different back then. Not bad, just different.

This one is about a man named Dr. Max Heinrich von Altermann. With a name like that, I assume he was supposed to be German, but he was played by John Carradine, so I think you know how that goes. Anyways, he was in the business of killing folks and turning them into zombies, which he later revealed was an attempt to create an unstoppable army for the government. To my knowledge, this is at least one of the first movies to use the "zombies as super soldiers" story, but I can't be sure. Anyways, the movie started off with a guy who had some suspicions about his sister's death; his sister being, of course, von Altermann's wife. Along with a friend and a doctor, he went to the von Altermanns' home to investigate. At first, everything seemed perfectly normal. The body of Lila von Altermann was safely in her coffin for the majority of the time, until her husband perfected his experiment and finally woke her. He had several other zombie servants, but they served little to no purpose other than scaring the human servants half to death. But Lila von Altermann was different. Where the other zombies simply obeyed without any emotions or personal thought processes, she still had a mind of her own. And she didn't like the idea of being a servant to her own husband. I think you know where this is going...

I think the idea of this movie was great. He was raising an army of the undead. He turned his wife into one of them, but she ended up wanting to destroy him and take control of the other zombies herself. Awesome. The problem is that there wasn't much happening. Most of the time, the three guys were wandering around the house wondering what was up with von Altermann. Once any real action actually took place, the movie was over. I understand that, with these old movies, I can't expect a whole lot of action scenes with exploding cars and heads rolling all over the place. But that doesn't mean that there can't be something fast paced and exciting, because I've seen it done very well before. The best thing about this movie was Jeff, one of the human servants. He was a scaredy cat, jumped at the slightest sound, and didn't like von Altermann's zombies at all. He was absolutely hilarious, and he stole the show here. Other than that, this one was pretty forgettable.

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