With the premier of The Walking Dead fast approaching, I have decided to watch some of my favorite zombie flicks, as well as a few that I have not seen. George A. Romero is credited with being the man who invented the modern zombie. By this, I mean the "walking dead" that feed on flesh and a single bite can infect the victim and turn them into a zombie. Before Romero terrified audiences with his now iconic Night of the Living Dead, zombies still existed in film, but they looked a lot different. In earlier zombie films, the creatures were not the by product of infection or alien virus, but rather were magically created through the use of voodoo.
Lets take a look at the 1941 film, King of the Zombies. Rather than being a straight horror film, King of the Zombies mixes the genre with a generous portion of comedy, thanks to actor Manton Moreland, the token black character. While it was not outside the norm to have black characters play to such strong stereotypes, it is still disconcerting to see played out on film nonetheless. While some reviewers would compliment Manton on his comedic timing, his comedy is still built upon the fact that his character frightens easily and is less intelligent that his caucasian counterparts. Don't get me wrong, he is a great actor, but it is shameful to look back on the way we wrote, and at times now, still write minority characters.
What is actually more interesting about this film is the fact that the films villain is obviously Germanic and the the story flirts around the idea that he is a Nazi. The plot focuses on the antagonist Dr. Miklos Sangre, as he tries to zombifies prominent war officials to gain military knowledge. Since the film was produced and released before America's involvement, you don't see the characters fighting in the war, but you do see some sentiments that old Hollywood and most of the US already had about Nazi Germany.
The film can be viewed for free here. It is worth watching if you enjoy campy old horror films or exceptionally racist films.