28 Jul: When Zombies Came To Hollywood

Independent horror film ‘White Zombie’, starring Bela Lugosi, premiered in New York City’s Rivoli Theatre on July 28th, 1932. It marked the first time that zombies had featured in a Hollywood picture – albeit as the result of an evil voodoo master in Haiti rather than a condition passed on through bites, as in later zombie screenplays.

Large portions of the film were shot on the Universal Studios lot, borrowing props and scenery from other horror films of the era, with an ultra-low budget of just $50,000.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how Lugosi went from Hungarian Shakespeare star to Tinseltown villain; unpick the racism at the heart of the story; and consider why zombies have proven to be such a resilient horror movie staple…. 

Further Reading:

• ‘Hollywood Flashback: Bela Lugosi Introduced the World to Zombies in 1932’ (The Hollywood Reporter, 2021): https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/bela-lugosi-white-zombies-1234954832/

• ‘White Zombie – Anatomy of a Horror Film, By Gary D. Rhodes’ (McFarland, 2001): https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/White_Zombie/oHApAwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=white+zombie+lugosi&printsec=frontcover

• ‘White Zombie’ (dir. Victor Halperin, 1932):

#Film #30s #Hollywood #Macabre #Racism