Reviews
Zombies on Broadway (1945) 1 brainhalf brain
(USA)

Alternate Titles:

Loonies on Broadway


Just the title makes you want to see it. The imagination is filled with zombies in leotards shambling in time, or the other extreme a la Thriller, with horrible corpses burning up the stage. Unfortunately, you don't get dancing zombies. What you do get is dated humor from the comedy duo of Wally Brown and Alan Carney, reprising their roles as broadway press agents Jerry Miles and Mike Streger. They're working for mob boss Ace Miller (Sheldon Leonard), who demands that they get a real zombie for the opening of his club, Club Zombie. The curator of the local museum (Ian Wolfe) tells them that the only place they can find zombies is on the island of St. Sebastian, where a colleague of his, Paul Renault (Bela Lugosi), vanished many years ago.

Renault (which the characters in the film irritatingly pronounce as "Ren-alt") has been trying to find a scientific way to duplicate the voodoo zombie process, without success. He gets zombies that walk around for a couple of hours, and then die again. He's aided by evil henchmen and a real zombie that he stole from the natives 20 years earlier. He has a new formula he wants to try out and is looking for his next guinea pigs, just about the time that the duo of press agents arrive on the island. The two of them team up with a cabaret singer who wants to leave the island, and they begin searching for a zombie to take back with them.

The zombies in the film are even less exciting than usual for the time period, basically being just normal people with (fake) bugged-out eyes. The only time one was actually creepy was unintentional (I think), when one of the zombies had this broad smile that made an unsettling contrast with the staring eyes. But this is more or less a squeaky-clean film, with the usual exception for the time period of racial stereotyping. The only thing it had going for it back then was the comedy, which nowadays just doesn't work. If you're into older movies, you may want to watch it for historical reasons, since it features several prolific actors in smaller roles (Jason Robards Sr., for example), but otherwise don't let the title suck you in, because that is what it does. Suck.