Friday, October 29, 2010

Zombies have more fun

As part of its 72-hour salute to Halloween, TCM is showing a couple of zombie movies today: Bela Lugosi in White Zombie at 3:30 PM ET, followed by Val Lewton's I Walked With a Zombie at 4:45 PM. Both of them are available on DVD. A more interesting zombie movie that also has Bela Lugosi in it, which isn't on TCM's schedule, is Zombies on Broadway.

Sheldon Leonard, back when he was acting and before he became a TV director and producer, plays Ace, a gangster who's planning to open a new nightclub, which he wants to call "The Zombie Hut". (Nightclubs had just as odd themes back then as they do today, apparently.) To promote the club, he hires a couple of press agents, played by Z-level comedy team Wally Brown and Alan Carney. What would make the club a hit is if they can get an act involving a real live (er, technically undead) zombie. So, Ace sends our two publicity agents to the Caribbean island of San Sebastian, where they're supposed to find, and bring back, an actual zombie. There, they meet the requisite damsel in distress (Anne Jeffreys), who wants to get back to the mainland. Together, the three wind up getting mixed up first in a native zombie ceremony, and then in Bela Lugosi's zombie experiments, before eventually making their way back to New York.

Zombies on Broadway is a comedy; at least, that's how it's billed. It's not particularly good, in that it's decidedly a B-movie if it aims that high. And yet, it's one of those movies that's just so damn dumb that it winds up being entertaining. And even if you don't agree with that assessment, the movie only runs 70 minutes, so you haven't wasted too much time. Also, thanks to the presence in the cast of Bela Lugosi, the movie has gotten a release to DVD, so you don't have to wait for one of its rare TCM showings.

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