Monday, February 13, 2012

Black Moon (1934)

Director: Roy William Neill

Starring: Jack Holt, Fay Wray, Dorothy Burgess, Cora Sue Collins, Arnold Korff, Clarence Muse

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Love battling against the sorcery of the jungle!

Plot: A young girl who lives on a tropical island loses her parents to a voodoo sacrifice, but although she manages to escape the island, a curse is put on her. Years later, as an adult, she feels a strong compulsion to return to the island to confront her past. Her husband, her daughter and her nanny go with her, but once back on the island, the woman finds herself elevated by the locals to the stature of a voodoo goddess, and she begins her inevitable descent into madness, with disastrous results for her family.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

#2 on the Black History Month Project 2012

There's one thing I can generally say about movies of the 1930s, particularly horror pictures, and that I'm rarely bored with any of them. Maybe it's because a lot of the low budget fare hovers around the 60 minute length (this one's an hour and five minutes) and that they typically pack a lot of story in that brief time. They aren't always exciting and I might be disappointed but they generally entertain and keep me from falling asleep. BLACK MOON fits that bill.

The performances are likable. One thing I dig is that it took only 11 minutes to get out of the big city and to the islands where all the fun Voodoo shit starts to happen. There's a good deal of build-up of dread for the eventual showdown that comes at the climax (see the last 9 minutes in the video above) and it's a pretty good one, too. You'll have to look past the racial stereotypes that were prevalent at that time but by and large it's a pretty good horror picture. I couldn't help but be reminded the whole time of a better island Voodoo horror flick from 1943, I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE. Another thing these two flicks have in common is the underlying dread weaved throughout each scene with the soft, constant and muddled beating of the drums. Tourneur used it to a better effect in ZOMBIE but I was surprised to hear it in this picture that came 9 years earlier. I wonder if Tourneur had seen this picture and garnered inspiration from it. Who knows. MOON is worth catching for fans of this type of horror but you're only likely to find it on TCM

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