The Horror Honeys: There's No Crown, But There Might Be a Jester's Cap...

There's No Crown, But There Might Be a Jester's Cap...

A Zombie Honey Review by Bella

King of the Zombies (1941)

I’m about to drop a truth bomb on all y’all. Ryan Murphy did not fucking invent the horror-comedy genre. In fact, Ryan Murphy wasn’t even a twitch in his parents’ pants when horror-comedy came to be. Want proof? King of the Zombies.

King of the Zombies is a voodoo zombi, horror-comedy film from 1941 that is full to the brim with menacing, rich, white, voodoo masters; zombis run amok; and catchy one-liners that kept me giggling through to the next one-liner. The film begins with a plane, running low on fuel and blown off course, following a faint radio call in hopes of finding a place to crash land. The passenger, his manservant, and the pilot take refuge in a creepy mansion run by a charming, yet creepy, doctor. A voodoo doctor!

The manservant, Jeff, is the most quick-witted and frightened of the bunch - quickly realizing that the mansion is full of zombis. Getting confirmation from some of the doctor's hired help, Jeff spends part of the movie trying to convince his boss that something is wrong and the other part of the movie as a pseudo-hypnotized zombi. Of course they don’t leave, but instead stumble upon a voodoo ritual in the basement of the mansion revealing the doctor’s true identity as a spy seeking war information from another downed pilot.

"...the most pie-ous man..."
I admit, the war plot was a little lost on me as my focus was entirely on Jeff, the manservant. Jeff, played by Mantan Moreland (best known for his roles in Charlie Chan films), propels the movie forward with epic comedic timing and line delivery. Despite the obviously racist treatment of the era, Jeff steals the show - making everyone else around him seem flat. Apparently the movie was meant to star Bela Lugosi and then Peter Lorre, but the voodoo master role eventually went to character actor Henry Victor, who did great things with it despite not having voodoo eyebrows to fall back on.

While the movie as a whole isn’t anything to write home about it, it was entertaining in the most absurdly delightful way. There’s no gore and no jump scares, but there are plenty of meandering, mindless zombis and hysterical commentary about them to make it worth a view.

Zombie Honey Rating: 2.5 Pieces of Pie out of 5

King of the Zombies is public domain, so the film is available to view for free on YouTube,
or you can own it on DVD!