Revenge of the Zombies (1943)


(director: Steve Sekely; screenwriters: Edmond Kelso/Van Norcross; cinematographer: Mack Stengler; editor: Richard Currier; cast: John Carradine (Dr. Max Heinrich von Altermann), Gale Storm (Jennifer Rand), Robert Lowery (Larry Adams), Bob Steele (United States agent posing as Sheriff), Mantan Moreland (Jeff), Veda Ann Borg (Lila von Altermann), Barry Macollum (Dr. Harvey Keating), Mauritz Hugo (Scott Warrington), Madame Sul-Te-Wan (Mammy Beulah, the housekeeper), Sybil Lewis (Rosella), James Baskett (Lazarus); Runtime: 61; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lindsley Parsons; Monogram Pictures; 1943)

“Is about as much fun as playing with a Gestapo agent.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It’s a hapless low-budget sequel to King of the Zombies. Hungarian born director Steve Sekely (“The Day of the Triffids”) helms this pathetic zombie film; it’s written in a murky fashion by Edmond Kelso and Van Norcross and is about as much fun as playing with a Gestapo agent.

Old family doctor Harvey Keating (Barry Macollum) informs the wealthy Scott Warrington (Mauritz Hugo) to return to his childhood home in the Louisiana bayou to investigate the mysterious death of his married sister Lila (Veda Ann Borg), who he believes was poisoned. She’s married to a German-born scientist Dr. Max Heinrich von Altermann (John Carradine), who lives in isolation in the swamp and conducts weird experiments and has people hanging around that look like zombies because that’s what they are. Scott brings along for protection private detective Larry Adams (Robert Lowery) and his black bug-eyed chauffeur/servant from Harlem named Jeff (Mantan Moreland). They soon discover that Von Alltermann is a mad scientist in the employ of the Nazis, who has created a race of zombies to be an invincible army for his beloved Third Reich. Only thing is he botches the zombie experiment with Lila and she can’t be controlled, as she leads a zombie rebellion against him that results in his death in the swamp’s quicksand. Upon his death, the zombies are released from his control and allowed to die in peace. Also helping put an end to the mad scientist’s evil designs are the following: a federal agent posing as his Nazi contact with the Fatherland (Bob Steele), his pretty but dumb secretary Jennifer Rand (Gale Storm), the black house servants Rosella (Sybil Lewis) and Mammy Beulah (Madame Sul-Te-Wan).

The only life in the film is some lame comic relief moments from Moreland doing his scared stiff routine and hitting on Rosella. Carradine sleepwalks through his part as if he were the zombie. Madame Sul-Te-Wan gives a creepy wacko performance as the housekeeper with the anti-dote to the poisonous swamp lilies. The best thing about the film is that it’s only 61 minutes.