King of the Zombies (1941)

Nomination Year: 2004
SYNOPSIS:  This movie is one of those strange ones where the movie itself is serious, but high campiness surrounds a single character. In almost every scene he's in, the black guy Jeff says something funny and you can tell he was a headliner in his day, a real Rochester type. It's about some guys flying over the Caribbean (near "Porta Reeka" on their way to the "Bahaymahs"). Lost and about to crash, they home in on a strange radio signal. They crash anyway, on a island run by the weird Dr. Sangre, who, of course, invites them to stay. Right away, zombies come out of the woodwork and menace the black guy. At first, his bosses don't believe him, but they eventually learn that the good Doctor is a Nazi spy feeding his German masters information which he extracts from his victims with the help of a voodoo priestess. The admiral he recently captured (victim of an earlier plane crash) has vital information but is a tough nut to crack, and with pressure mounting on him from his superiors, the Doc decides to transfer the soul of the man into his niece. But our square-jawed hero and his servant bust up their little ceremony and help stage a zombie rebellion. Yes, it's another Nazi zombie movie! Oh. And the bad guy is an evil hypnotist. Aren't they all?

Best One-Liner

And He Probably Could Have Done Without That Plane Crash, Too
Bill was injured in the plane crash back in the start of the movie (he was the only one -- he got a little gash on his forehead while the other two walked away without a scratch, even though the plane was nothing but a twisted heap of metal--but I digress). Early on, Dr. Sangre had warned everyone that people with even small wounds tend to die on the island, because of the exotic diseases hereabouts. Of course, that was just Sangre's way of setting up for Bill's later disappearance so he could make a zombie out of him. In the aftermath of the botched ceremony, with the Nazi spy-ring broken, the captives freed, and the zombies de-zombified, someone asks Mac how Bill is doing. He replies, with completely serious delivery that makes the line: "Well...those bullets didn't help him any."

Inane Dialogue

No, But He Was Always So Original, I Think He Would Have Wanted It This Way
"Where's Bill?"
"Sorry, but they buried him just a little while ago."
"Is he dead?"
...scream

Worst Acting

Henry Victor, aka Dr. Strangetongue
There are many opportunites to catch Dr. Sangre (played by Henry Victor) utilizing his fake accent (at least I hope it's fake!) and slurring or flubbing his lines. You can almost take your pick of whatever scene he's in. In this one, there are visible pauses as he struggles to remember his next line, almost like his mind wandered and he had to recall that he was shooting a movie. At one point he mentions having been to the "Ba-hay-mahs." At another, he hopes his guests are "warm and comumfortable." Later, he mugs and tells Jeff that his butler "wont hurt you...[uh, what's my line now?] ... if he likes you."

Actors/Directors of Note
Actor Claim to Fame
Dick Purcell  
Joan Woodbury  
Mantan Moreland  
Henry Victor  
Director Claim to Fame
Jean Yarbrough directed a plethora of old television series episodes, primarily (but not entirely) Westerns 

Bryan Cassidy

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© 2011-2014 Bryan D. Cassidy, Greg Pearson, Matthew Quirk, and Kevin Hogan. All Rights Reserved.