White Zombie by Victor Halperin (1932, 68 min., 35mm). In a foreboding mountaintop castle, an evil necromancer, attended by an avian familiar, holds a virgin princess spellbound. Guided by a wise elder, her lover storms the aerie, overcomes the hideous creatures that guard it, destroys the sorcerer, and rouses his beloved from her enchantment. Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or Sleeping Beauty? No, the Halperin brothers’ White Zombie. The most famous horror movie from Poverty Row is nothing but a fairy tale in mufti, pegged to a jazz age voodoo vogue popularized by William Seabrook’s occult writings. White Zombie is an unequivocal pop culture signpost whose influence has left an imprint on everything from Disney family values to Rob Zombie’s metronymic heavy metal band. It codified the Bela Lugosi chick-magnet persona in ways that even Dracula (1931) never could. The film’s back-of-the-head magic is perhaps best not explicated but simply appreciated. Description written by Scott MacQueen, UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Preservation funding provided by The Packard Humanities Institute