White Zombie & The Crime of Doctor Crespi
BAMPFA Student Committee Pick!
Victor Halperin, United States, 1932
On the undead heels of Dracula, Bela Lugosi and his lugubrious stare are transported from Transylvania to the West Indies for another sensational tale. The proprietor of a sugar mill staffed by zombie laborers (“they are not worried about long hours”), Lugosi helps a plantation owner entrance an innocent young bride, a conquest that proves curiously unsatisfying. With its throbbing tribal drums, Gothic shadows, and ludicrously yet appropriately stilted acting, White Zombie set a precedent for many films to follow. It serves up its allegory of enslavement surprisingly raw—exploitation as both genre and subject matter.
The Crime of Doctor Crespi
John H. Auer, US, 1935
Erich von Stroheim
Edgar Allan Poe goes Poverty Row in this sinister cheapie starring Erich von Stroheim in high Man You Love to Hate mode. A famous surgeon with an office full of ominous beakers, Doctor Crespi (Stroheim) agrees to take the case of a former friend and romantic rival who has been gravely injured in an accident. His apparent altruism is a cover for a diabolical revenge: suffice it to say that the treatment leads to complications.