This is the 128th in my series of Forgotten, Obscure or Neglected Films
Welcome back, my friends, these shows never end. Or never seem to. This week we have a comedy from 1945 starring Wally Brown as Jerry Miles and Alan Carney as Mike Strager as a couple of press agents working for Ace Miller (Sheldon Leonard), a semi-retired gangster who is opening a new night club called The Zombie Hut in New York. Jerry and Mike have promoted the club as having a “real, authentic zombie” for opening night and local radio personality Douglas Walker (Louis Jean Heydt), who has it in for Ace, is calling the bluff and threatening fraud.
Jerry and Mike find themselves in a pickle and on a boat to San Sebastian to find Professor Renault (Bela Lugosi) who has been working with zombies. If they fail to produce a genuine zombie, they will commit “suicide” with the help of Ace and his men.
In San Sebastian they meet up with Jean La Dance (Anne Jeffries) who is a nightclub singer and knife thrower who wants to get off the island with their help. As they look for a zombie and the professor, they encounter voodoo ceremonies and run afoul of the participants. Anne is captured by a zombie commanded by Renault who is trying to create zombies via a scientific method with no success. When Jerry and Mike arrive on the scene, Renault hopes to use them for his experiments. Mike proves susceptible to the serum Renault has created.
Brown and Carney are a second rate Abbott and Costello and their routines seem tired and tiring. Anne Jeffries and Bela Lugosi are the class of the film and are pretty well wasted here. The most saving grace of the film is that it is short. The small monkey that appears about 2/3 of the way in steals much of the last half of the film.
IMDB and Wikipedia indicate that several of the sets and actors appear to be from I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, the 1943 Jacques Tourneur film. I have not seen that film in a while so I can’t vouch for that.
The film was profitable and led to GENIUS AT WORK, one more Brown and Carney film with Jeffries and Lugosi in 1946. Overall Brown and Carney made nine or so films together. They were never Abbott and Costello.
Series organizer Todd Mason hosts more Tuesday Forgotten Film reviews at his own blog and posts a complete list of participating blogs.