View Full Version : Alpha's "White Zombie" Or How Budget Disc's Provide A Useful Service!

11-29-2002, 05:05 PM
It must have been close to 30 years since I last saw this film prior to last night and honestly, I didn't remember too much about it. So, after the long Thanksgiving and with the girls sound asleep, I turned off the lights at about Midnight and popped in the Alpha disc of this film. I can't tell you how much I loved it!

The film is so eerie looking and surreal, yet it has a sort of poetry about it. Halperin I think did a magnificent job directing and Lugosi was outstanding. I loved his look in the film. I think there is a tremendous amount of "feel" to the film myself. An almost nightmare like quality that you can't wake up from and the "slow movement" of the movie and the sort of stilted acting(excluding Lugosi) does give the film an unreal feel to it. I was literally amazed at the sets and camerawork. The touches Halperin applied here were magnificent and on more then one occasion I found myself saying, "wow, this is an excellent shot". I actually enjoyed the soundtrack and some of the memorable things for me include the memorable funeral chant during the opening credits and the bizarre and creepy noises in the sugarmill. I also loved a couple of those shots on the hillside where we see the zombies almost parading along against a backdrop of the moonlit sky. I can also see where that very first shot of the zombies walking down the hill towards Lugosi and company when the coach is stopped might have given the chills to 1932 audiences.

I don't want to make too much of this film, but I absolutely loved it as well as Lugosi's performance and for me, on a personal level, this film was far and away better then the previous years "Dracula". The Alpha disc was fine. It looked worn and a little worse for the wear in terms of it not being as sharp as a remasterd job would make it and because of the grain but I didn't notice as much print damage as others have. In fact, despite the age of the print I thought it was remarkably damage free with the exception of a couple of scream jumps. The audio was fine and even a bit on the loud side but easily understandable despite the static. I think an upgrade down the road is in order for me as I enjoyed the movie so much, I am sure there will be repeat viewings. Still, I have to thank Alpha and their $5 price tag for making the opportunity to see this film for the first time in 30 years possible and for making me realize an upgrade is in order for the price of a DVD rental. Were it not for this disc, I would not have spent the money on the more expensive disc to rediscover how much I love the film. And some say that these "budget" companies don't provide a service! Here's a prime example. Case closed! :)

11-30-2002, 09:39 PM
Hi Bill,

WHITE ZOMBIE received an upgraded treatment on DVD several years back on the Roan Archival Entertainment label. I'd considered purchasing it several years ago when I bought my DVD player. It might still be in print. I believe it was up there in price. You might want to look for it. I agree with you on these budget releases! Many times an upgrade will come your way if you are patient enough.

11-30-2002, 09:55 PM
I just found the upgrade available on www.dvdempire.com for a cool $12.74. It was originally around 25 bucks several years ago so the price has gone down. It also has some cool extras. The price is right for me. I just ordered it. Its in stock.

11-30-2002, 10:18 PM
I love this film, it is absolutely eerie from beginning to end. I haven't seen the Roan disc, thanks for reminding me. I'll keep an eye out.

11-30-2002, 11:40 PM
"White Zombie" is quite a wonderfully eerie movie. I have the Roan disc and they did a pretty good job with it. However, I haven't seen any other version to compare it to.

12-01-2002, 12:11 AM
Thanks guys. I've heard good things about the Roan disc myself. :)

12-01-2002, 06:02 AM
Roan's White Zombie simply kicks ass, and it's one of my favorite dvds. It's probably the best Roan disc out there, but I've never been disappointed by any of them yet (and I've got pretty much all of them).

Roan is now a Troma property, so you can order direct from them. Their shipping charges suck ass, but if you order enough, it evens out. They have have a shady past in regard to customer service, myself being in the past a staunch Troma-hater, but my last order went without a hitch, so, I dunno, give it a shot if you feel lucky. They have White Zombie for 7.99, and several other Lugosi's and various other horror as well.

Chucky P
12-02-2002, 06:18 AM
I had a dream recently that I had some weird music in my head and when I woke up I realized it was the opening music to White Zombie a movie I had not seen in about a year!

Just something I wanted to share.

12-05-2002, 12:06 PM
Can the Roan copy easily be found in stores or will I have to break down and order it online? I have an old VHS copy of WZ and I'd love to have a copy on disc. And it doesnt hurt that one of my favorite bands of all time took their name from the film.

12-05-2002, 12:52 PM
Well, if you buy it in a store, you might get raped. Borders is askin' 20 for it, but you have to special order it. Unless you have some serious specialized DVD stores around you, I doubt you'd find it on the shelf. Whatever you do, git it! :p

12-05-2002, 06:03 PM
I've not even seen it in a brick and mortar store. My copy from DVD Empire shipped really quick...plus it was under 13 bucks. I'm happy with it.

12-06-2002, 03:53 AM
Well, you sold me, dvdasia62, I am going to pick up one to check out and you don't have to sell me on the virtues of cheapies. I, too, look at them as rentals. You can't rent half those films, and even if you could, wouldn't you want to own them for approximately the same price? I think I have bought almost all the Diamond discs already!!

12-06-2002, 04:53 AM
Originally posted by Shannafey
Well, you sold me, dvdasia62, I am going to pick up one to check out and you don't have to sell me on the virtues of cheapies. I, too, look at them as rentals. You can't rent half those films, and even if you could, wouldn't you want to own them for approximately the same price? I think I have bought almost all the Diamond discs already!!

LOL. I hope u enjoy the film. Let us know your thoughts. :)

12-08-2002, 09:54 PM
I watched my copy of WHITE ZOMBIE from Roan late last night. What a fantastic, nightmarish film. When I woke up this morning, I kept thinking of all the memorable creepy images in the film...especially of Mage Bellamy walking to the edge of the cliff as the sea raged below. The sugarmill scenes were especially creepy. The film was definitely more of a "photoplay" as it relied mostly on images to tell the story. Tame by today's standards, I can imagine this scared the hell out of 1932 audiences. It still retains some of it inherent creepiness. Like another favorite, THE OLD DARK HOUSE, this films has some of the most memorable images in early talkie horror. I'm so glad I bought this.

11-21-2005, 08:00 AM
I saw this movie on TV over the weekend, and I must say it's wonderful! An interesting story, and Lugosi doing a fine job. I'd read about some "poor matte" work, but honestly they looked on a par with the Universal films of the time. Some of the interior sets are amazing - as is the sequence in the mill.

Don't know why I haven't made a search for this one before, but it's high on my wish list now. Is the ROAN still the favored release of this one? The TV print I saw was really beaten up, and the sound was terrible...

Agent Z
11-21-2005, 08:41 AM

11-21-2005, 08:54 AM
Cheers man - that's two searches in two days that found nothing for me, but did for others... I sense user error somewhere...

Erick H.
11-21-2005, 08:56 AM
One of my favorite Lugosi's(and one of HIS favorite parts).This early indie(despite a low budget,it has fine sets and great atmosphere) was produced by the Halperin brothers and seemed to have been lost for a while until it reemerged in the 1960's.Bela is great in this and it has a slow,eerie mood.Also one of the earliest films about zombies(before George Romero forever changed what people thought of "as" a zombie ).If you're a fan of 30's horror you should definitely check this one out.

11-21-2005, 04:52 PM

Hmm, that thread as titled is about a particular dvd release of the movie, but reading it, the actual focus is more on the movie itself, as this thread also is. I was going to close this one and redirect, but seeing as how the two threads are actually similar in content, I'll just merge them.

11-21-2005, 10:08 PM
I can't comment on the release of the Roan DVD, but I just wanted to say that I got it on a Platinum 9 movie set and it worked out to like 65 cents per movie. Best 65 cents ever spent on a movie, let me tell you. This is just as good as the Universal classics, absolutely wicked. If people out there are reading people's comments on this movie and you can pick it up on cheapie DVD, well... dirt cheap, do it, you won't be disappointed.

11-22-2005, 02:16 AM
The Roan Group disc is one of those discs I'd probably run back into a fire and grab, excellent DVD of an excellent movie. I look at it as, "You get what you paid for." Just like the Criterion releases of Carnival of Souls and The Most Dangerous Game.

BTW it was probably rediscovered in the 50's as that was when Ed Wood and Bela Lugosi were watching it on TV hosted by Vampira, at least according to the Plan 9 Companion I just watched the other night. So no I didn't get that from Tim Burton. :P

11-22-2005, 03:40 AM
I just can't stand the quality of the cheapo releases, I'd rather pay more :)

Thanks everyone! I grabbed the Roan disc for under $10 off Amazon :)

12-22-2005, 02:00 AM
I watched this DVD tonight.

Now, I don't want to start any fights here, and trust me, I am hugely glad that I picked up this DVD. Hell, for the two Lugosi interviews alone it would be something else. I sampled the commentary and was suitably impressed there too - wow!

However, comments on here, and on the packaging - about the quality of the restoration - are a long way off, imo. Now, this may well be the best this movie has ever looked for home viewing, and I really have no way of comparing that. However, comparatively on DVD, it's not that great. A post above mentions Criterion's Carnival of Souls and The Most Dangerous Game, and frankly, this disc isn't close to matching either of those (nor any of the Universal horrors on DVD).

The box art claims: "Probably hasn't looked this good since it's original release" - well, maybe not, maybe right after the original release they dragged the copies over gravel :D

The transfer is, apparently, pulled from two 35mm sources. One of those sources has awful sound, and some dialog is just "blurred" away. Frames are dropped every now and again too. Other than that, it's got quite a bit of softness at times. There is a single scene, nearer the end, of a shot of Lugosi that is amazing, definately crystal clear, but the rest can't match it.

Finally, the Horror Channel in the UK is showing a print of this film, and while I will need to watch it again (I recorded it, but foolishly deleted it once I'd ordered the DVD), I feel confident in saying the print used is easily a match for the ROAN disc, it might even be better (I need to view again and see if thoe dropped frames are there or not).

Again - not trying to put people off this one, because the film fricking ROCKS, and the disc has some nice features. But anyone expecting a great print, or anything approaching the Criterion releases, will be left a little disapointed, as I am.

Anyway - great film, good disc - recommended.

12-22-2005, 04:28 PM
My Criterion reference may be misleading I agree, what I was saying with that was if you want the best version of the movie the dollar bin isn't where to look. It's not an HD remastering using a digital clean up from multipul best sources. All they did was a new transfer selecting the best segements from two film sources they had.

Comparing it to prints of other public domain films like The Vampire Bat which I recorded on TCM for Halloween, the Roan Group print is very good. The Vampire Bat was often too dark to make out what was happening. My Alpha Video copy of Chain for Life is entirely clipped on sound! It's overly bright and clearly from a video tape source. Maybe expectations are low on public domain releases, but I've seen too much crap to not be impressed when someone like Roan goes back to 35mm prints and chooses the best portions.