Blood Of The Zombie (1961)

Blood Of The Zombie opens with this declaration:

”For all you lovers of high class music and art, The Breeding Room has a special treat for you!”

So does director Barry Mahon, but it’s going to take an extremely partial sense of trash film appreciation to get it.

Johnny has just been hitched to Linda (Linda Ormond, wife of trash king Ron Ormond). Killing two birds with one stone, he decides to take his new belle honeymooning to a just-inherited plantation. On the way, the love birds plow through lovely New Orleans circa 1961, eating up the hipster lingo, cherished neon, free jazz barn stompers, and of course, exotic dancing (at The Breeding Room, of course). Out at the plantation, there are sinister voodoos stirring. Cousin Monica seems to know that Johnny’s about to inherit the plantation, just as long as he’s married. Not wanting to lose her childhood home, Monica wrangles up the hired help and performs a bongo-saturated voodoo curse! Her long-dead brother, Jonas, will rise from the grave and kill Johnny’s new wife, reverting the house’s rights back to Monica. At least, that’s the plan.

By most people’s standards, Blood Of The Zombie is about as exciting as dusting furniture. Luckily, my standards are often lower than dusting furniture. Therefore, I see the good in this once-lost film — not for its surface monotony, but in spite of it. For 68 minutes, Blood presents a living, breathing time capsule of New Orleans circa 1961, capped off with an Alice-Cooper-on-valium zombie in a dinner tux. We get extended nightclub jazz performances, even longer burlesque dance routines, and colorful locales that you can reach out and hug. Since this is an early Barry Mahon jam, the typical “point and shoot from ten feet away” method of anti-kinetic filmmaking is in full effect. Barry takes us through a shoebox full of voodoo drum rituals and fruitless zombie shuffling, all of which remains just above watchable due to the fantastic locations. Jonas the zombie is no slouch either. Although he has little to do, the visual presence of this pasty green beanpole is a classic in the annals of incredibly cheap films. If there was more of a plot at work, the film might have followed suit.

Blood Of The Zombie exists as an eye candy souvenir for those with romantic tastes, kind of a skid row 1960s version of Jacques Tourneur’s I Walked With A Zombie for lunatics. If that doesn’t sound good to you, look elsewhere.

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