Film: White Zombie

Dr. Bruner: Who are you? And what are they?
Legendre: For you, my friend, they are the angels of death.

White Zombie is a 1932 horror film starring Bela Lugosi. It was the first film to bring zombies into the silver screen.

Not happy that Madeline, the woman he loves is marrying someone else, Charles Beaumont turns to local witch doctor named Legendre to have things his way. Legendre uses his skills to turn the woman into a zombie, who is mistaken to be properly dead. After she is whisked away from her grave, her husband Dr. Bruner learns the truth about her condition and sets out to rescue her.

In 1936, the film was followed by a loose sequel, Revolt of the Zombies.

This film has examples of:

  • All in the Eyes: Hey, it wouldn't be a Lugosi flick without this.
  • Anything But That!: Beaumont's reaction when he realizes what is coming up to him after Legendre poisons him.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Sported by Chauvin, one of Legendre's zombies.
  • Body Horror: Much of this movie doesn't age well, but this trope is used for a thoroughly chilling moment. While Madeleine fell directly into her non-death after taking a full dose of Legendre's potion, Beaumont realizes what's up after taking only a sip of the poisoned wine. The result for him is even worse—he changes into a zombie slowly, while being awake and aware the whole time, but unable to talk. The scene where a twitching, wild-eyed Beaumont just manages to extend a hand in supplication to Legendre, only for Legendre to brusquely brush it away, is quite disturbing.
  • Disney Villain Death: Legendre dies when Beaumont uses his last ounce of will to push him over a ledge to the rocks below.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After Madeleine's "death" and burial, Dr. Bruner hits the bar.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Beaumont has his butler Silver eavesdrop on his guests.
  • Grave Robbing: After her burial, Madeleine's body is stolen from her grave by Legendre's zombies.
  • Hallucinations: After drinking little too much, Dr. Bruner starts seeing visions of Madeleine around the bar.
  • Hollywood Voodoo
  • Hypnotic Eyes: When Beaumont orders Silver to attack Legendre, he hypnotizes him and he is helplessly carried away by his zombies.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: MURDER Legendre.
  • No OSHA Compliance: One of the Undead Laborers at the sugar mill is shown tripping over and falling into the sugar cane grounder, and is crushed to death by the machine's uncaring operators.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: See Voodoo Zombie below.
  • Pstandard Psychic Pstance: Legendre employs his hypnotic powers by hand gestures, usually by clenching them together.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Legendre poisons Beaumont's glass of wine to turn him into a zombie.
  • Technically Living Zombie: Madeleine's condition as the eponymous "white zombie".
  • Trilling Rs: Legendre is fond of this:
    For the futurrrrre, monsieur!
  • Villainous Vidows Peak: Legendre.
  • Voodoo Zombie: Legendre's slaves. They are classic voodoo zombies—either living people or reanimated corpses who have been enslaved by voodoo magic to serve a master. The later idea of zombies as monsters out to eat people was basically invented by George Romero in Night of the Living Dead over thirty years after this movie.
  • Wheel of Pain: Legendre's sugar mill runs on such contraption, which is operated by his tireless zombies.