Revolt of the Zombies

Revolt of the Zombies is a 1936 American horror film directed and produced by the Halperin Brothers which stars Dean Jagger and Dorothy Stone. It is one of the earliest zombie films. Although it was conceived as a loose sequel to Victor Halperin's moderately successful 1932 film White Zombie, when compared with Halperin's previous work, this film is generally regarded as a disappointment.[1] Although he is not credited in the film, Bela Lugosi's eyes appear in Revolt of the Zombies whenever zombifying-powers are used; it is the same image of Lugosi's eyes used in the film White Zombie.[1] Revolt of the Zombies is in the public domain, and can be copied or distributed without regard to copyright law.[2]

Revolt of the Zombies
Directed byVictor Halperin
Produced byEdward Halperin
Written by
Music by
Edited byDouglass Biggs
Victor & Edward Halperin Productions
Distributed byAcademy Pictures Distributing Corporation
Release date
  • June 4, 1936 (1936-06-04)
Running time
65 minutes
CountryUnited States


On the Franco-Austrian Frontier during World War I, an Oriental priest, chaplain of a French colonial regiment, is condemned to life imprisonment because he possesses the power to turn men into zombies. In his prison cell, the priest prepares to burn a parchment containing the location of the secret formula. Gen. Mazovia (Roy D'Arcy) kills the priest and takes the partially burned parchment. After the war, an expedition of representatives from the Allied countries with colonial interests are sent to Cambodia to find and destroy forever the so-called "Secret of the Zombies". The group includes General Mazovia; a student of dead languages, Armand Louque (Dean Jagger); Englishman Clifford Grayson (Robert Noland); General Duval (George Cleveland); and his daughter Claire (Dorothy Stone).

Armand falls in love with Claire, who accepts his proposal of marriage to spite Clifford, whom she really loves. Later, when Claire runs to Cliff for comfort following an accident, Armand breaks the engagement, leaving her free to marry Cliff. Further accidents caused by Mazovia result in the natives refusing to work, forcing the expedition to return to Phnom Penh. Armand finds a clue which he had overlooked before and returns to Angkor against orders.

After viewing an ancient ceremony at a temple, Armand follows one of the servants of a high priest out of the temple, through a swamp, to a mysterious bronze doorway. When the servant leaves, Armand goes through the door to a room paneled in bronze, with an idol holding a gong. He accidentally strikes the gong, and a panel in the wall opens, revealing a small metal tablet. He translates the inscription and realizes that it is the secret for which they have all been looking. He alone now has the power to make zombies out of people, and begins with a practice run on his servant before using his zombie powers in an attempt to coerce the fickle Claire in the movie's climax.



On September 3, 1935, Louella Parsons reported that Bela Lugosi was to star in The Revolt of the Zombie.[3] By November 1935, trades papers announced that brothers Victor Halperin and Edward Halperin would create a sequel to White Zombie that would be produced by Academy Pictures with no mention of Lugosi.[4] A camera crew was sent to Angkor, Indochina to film background shots for the film.[4] Production on Revolt of the Zombies was behind schedule in January with no script complete while the Halperins planned on filming in February.[4] The film only began production on March 9, 1936 with the shoot being finished later in the month.[5]

In May 1936, however, the Halperins encountered legal troubles in the form of a suit from Amusement Securities Corporation, a company that had helped finance White Zombie. Amusement Securities alleged that its contract for the earlier film gave it the exclusive right to use the world "zombie" in motion picture titles. Amusement Securities sent letters to theaters who planned to showcase Revolt of the Zombies, warning them not to show the film. As the film's premiere approached, Judge Waservogel of the New York State Supreme Court ruled that screenings of the film could take place until a judgement in the suit was reached, and appointed attorney Henry Hoffman to referee the case. On June 27, 1936, Hoffman issued an opinion in favor of the plaintiffs, awarding Amusement Securities $11,500 in damages and legal fees and prohibiting the Halperins from promoting Revolt of the Zombies as a sequel to White Zombie.[5]


Writing in The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, academic Peter Dendle called it an uninvolving follow-up to White Zombie that could not have been saved by Bela Lugosi.[6] Glenn Kay, who wrote Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide, said, "There's no experimentation here, only dull composition and flatly lit shots of yakking characters in by-the-numbers plot."[7]


  1. ^ a b Rhodes, Gary Don (2001). White zombie : anatomy of a horror film. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. p. 176. ISBN 9781476604916. OCLC 606629613.
  2. ^ Peter Rodgers Organization. "Public Domain". Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Mank, Gregory W. (2009). Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff : the expanded story of a haunting collaboration, with a complete filmography of their films together. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., Publishers. pp. 292. ISBN 9780786434800. OCLC 607553826.
  4. ^ a b c Rhodes, Gary Don (2001). White zombie : anatomy of a horror film. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. p. 171. ISBN 9781476604916. OCLC 606629613.
  5. ^ a b Rhodes, Gary Don (2001). White zombie : anatomy of a horror film. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. pp. 172–174. ISBN 9781476604916. OCLC 606629613.
  6. ^ Dendle, Peter (2001). The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. McFarland & Company. pp. 150–151. ISBN 978-0-7864-9288-6. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Kay, Glenn (2008). Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide. Chicago Review Press. pp. 8–9. ISBN 978-1-55652-770-8.

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