Released in 1932, the film White Zombie is considered the first feature-length zombie film. It starred Bela Lugosi, fresh off his unforgettable role in Dracula. He played a sinister witch doctor, 'Murder' Legendre, the vile owner of a zombie-staffed sugar mill in Haiti. Though it doesn't command the adoration of Dracula or Frankenstein, there's something enchanting (pun perhaps intended) about this film.
The posters and promotional items for the film give us a wealth of fun design. Take the colors for instance. In the pieces featured here, we see a period-perfect palm green, fading to a jade. On the opposite of the spectrum, we have a rusted red, a rich earthy tone. Perhaps subconsciously, these colors can transport us to the film's setting in the tropical world of Haiti in the 1930's.
Typefaces are predominately san serif, chunky and 'modern' in most cases. The titles are in a similar design, but tremulously edged, to give the words more intrigue and almost tribal mystery. The imagery shifts from graphically altered monotone photographs to posterized features and faces, sure to unsettle the nerves. These posters hearken to a time of minimal color usage and bold graphics.
White Zombie is a wealth of nostalgia, a transportation to the world of roaring Hollywood studios and 'monsters' more famous than the actors who played them. The story, the setting, the crackling audio, it's quite fantastic. With a short running time, it's great for wiling away a little over an hour. Have a Happy Halloween and watch out for zombies!
Original lineart label
© Rachael Sinclair