Black Moon (1934)

Article #1321 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-26-2004
Posting Date: 3-25-2005
Directed by Roy William Neill
Featuring Jack Holt, Fay Wray, Dorothy Burgess

A white woman returns to her island home, where many years ago she was indoctrinated into the ways of voodoo. Her returns sparks off a new wave of voodoo ritual and human sacrifices.

There’s no way to easily describe this strange, almost forgotten horror movie from the thirties, but I would rate it as the best voodoo movie made between WHITE ZOMBIE and I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE, and there isn’t even a single zombie in the movie. I’d even place it ahead of WHITE ZOMBIE; for me, that movie never quite captures the sense of oppressive dread that permeates this movie. In fact, it may be the the most Lewtonesque movie I’ve seen that was made before the advent of Val Lewton; it’s dark, unsettling, and things never quite happen the way you anticipate they will. Even the performance of the comic relief character (‘Lunch’ McClaren played by Clarence Muse) is so muted that I’m not even sure that the character can be called comic relief at all; he doesn’t seem to be playing for laughs (his fear, for example, is portrayed seriously rather than comically), and his performance actually lends to the atmosphere of the proceedings. The movie is a little uneven; for example, the Fay Wray character seems to exist more for the sake of convenience than for anything else. But the brooding atmosphere has a way of sticking with you, and you won’t soon forget the ending. This one is worth seeking out.


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