THE DEAD ONE. (1961) ALSO KNOWN AS ‘BLOOD OF THE ZOMBIE.’ WRITTEN, DIRECTED AND CO-PRODUCED BY BARRY MAHON. STARRING JOHN MCKAY, LINDA ORMOND, MONICA DAVIS, DARLENE MYRICK AND CLYDE KELLY. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
I bought the DVD of this brilliant old film over a year ago, I think, from a local GAME shop which sold second-hand DVDs alongside its brand-new computer games. The film lay, unwatched and gathering dust, in my to-watch pile for months and months and months. Then, one night recently when I was at a bit of a loose end, I stuck it in the old machine and gave it an airing. I was so glad I did…!
It’s a horror film about voodoo, basically, from an era when a lot of great horror was being made. It’s hammy and clunky in places and there was almost certainly a low budget involved, but none of that detracts in any way from this terrific old movie. If anything, it just makes it more fun. ‘When the drums start,’ reads the slogan on the box, ‘he walks and kills…’ Excited yet…? Let’s move on…
Here’s the deal. A nice normal American guy called John Carlton has just gotten married, see, to a nice normal American gal called Linda. By virtue of this marriage, he has also just inherited the family plantation in New Orleans, Louisiana, on account of the fact that he’s the last surviving male in the family. It’s a grand big old place too, with a lovely old house for him to live in as well as the acres and acres of land. The jammy dodger! Nice work if you can get it, that’s for sure.
His Cousin Monica still lives there, however, and she doesn’t want her Cousin John waltzing in and snatching it out from under her nose just because he’s a bloke and he’s just bagged himself a missus. How unfair. How sexist…! Why should he get his grubby mitts on the place? She’s the one who’s lived there for years and looked after it and loved it and managed the… ahem, slaves.
Yep, they still have slaves, believe it or not. They call ’em servants, but come on now, they’re still dirt-poor and sleeping three-to-a-bed and utterly dependent on their mistress, Monica, for their homes and livelihoods. Granted, they’re not chained up any more in the plantation’s old slave quarters (complete with chains…!), but quite honestly, their lot in life doesn’t seem to have improved much since the days of the Civil War.
Anyway, Mistress Monica needs the slaves- sorry, servants!- to help her concoct a plan to keep her Cousin John from inheriting the plantation. The plan involves killing John’s new missus, Linda, because if John ain’t married, he don’t inherit nuthin.’ Zip. Zilch. Nada. Diddly-f***ing-squat. Monica gets to stay in her precious plantation. And who’s going to do this dirty job of whacking the new Mrs. Carlton? You might well ask…
The slaves drum up a storm while Monica manipulates her voodoo dolls. Yep, did I forget to mention that she practises voodoo? She does. They all do, everyone on the Kenilworth plantation. And their drumming can- literally- raise the dead, in the form of Monica’s beloved brother Jonas, who lies rotting in the family crypt. ‘When the drums start, he walks and kills.’ Now do you get it?
Monica’s plan seems a tad short-sighted to me. Yes, she can kill Linda, but John can always get another wife in time, whereas if she kills John, that’s the problem sorted for good. Still, she’s made her choice. The revived zombie Jonas is hilariously hammy. He’s so emaciated and raddled-looking that he looks like at least three of The Rolling Stones mashed together. I still wouldn’t want to meet him coming up my back stairs, though…!
The old house is gorgeous. At least, the bedroom, the corner of the drawing-room and the back stairs are gorgeous. I have a feeling that those were the only bits of the house the film-makers had permission to film in, because those are the only bits we get to see, haha. I love the old family crypt, too. The acting, from the women at least, is pretty bad, but in a really funny way. It doesn’t take away from the film at all.
The whole film, as I said in the beginning, contains enough ham and cheese to stock a good-sized buffet but it’s a fantastic fun watch and you should definitely- excuse the pun- try to dig it up from somewhere, haha. I wouldn’t imagine that it’d be too easy to find, though.
The back of my DVD box assures me that this movie was ‘unearthed from a long forgotten film vault’ and ‘revived and restored from its original camera negative- IN COLOUR AND ULTRASCOPE…!’ Still, you might be lucky and pick this little gem up from somewhere. You might already have it in your collection for all I know. If so, good on ya!
Just one question for you all before I go. What kind of idiot takes a stripper on his honeymoon with him and his bride? The answer? Watch the film…!
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
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