The Dead One (1961)

The Dead One (1961) movie poster

director Barry Mahon
viewed: 03/09/2016

So you think you’ve seen it all?  How about this piece of cinematic obscurity?  The Dead One, a.k.a. Blood of the Zombie, an independent production, an example of regional horror from 1961 in glorious and unusual Eastman Color.

It’s a zombie picture of a sort, a tale of Voodoo, set in and around New Orleans.  John and Linda get married and hit the town, a jazz bar featuring the jumping Joe Burton Trio, a semi-burlesque girly show, and then an uptempo Dixieland-cum-rock’n’roll group, Joe Jones’ Orchestra.  Then, they pick up one of the girl dancers whose car has broken down on the side of a freeway and head for John’s family home, an old plantation where his cousin still lives, which he has interest in fixing up and making good on.  Only his cousin doesn’t like his plans and sets the old voodoo rituals going, raising her dead brother to kill, kill, kill to the beat of the voodoo drums.

It’s a cheapie flick, not terribly professional, not terribly gruesome or scary.  The zombie has an odd yellow pallor which is strange and highlights the oddity of this film being made in color.  It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is the film’s key weakness, there are many shortcomings, but the scenes are all brightly lit, perhaps overlit, which makes all very visible but not very dramatic or spooky.

Still, credit goes to this unusual obscurity.  That and the Shriek Show/Media Blasters DVD also includes an unfinished film, also of voodoo hoodoo and New Orleans, the would-be Voodoo Swamp.  The raw footage is kind of a nice extra, though the film wasn’t completed or released.

Obscurity is increasingly rare in this world.  So, though it doesn’t itself have a lot to recommend it, its obscurity is cool.  The snapshots of New Orleans clubs and nightlife, while hardly compelling, are still kind of interesting as a historical glimpse.

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