Zombies take on... Everything
Zombies take on... Everything


World War Z

George A. Romero

& The Zombie Evolution Revolution

The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari/White Zombie

What Was The First Zombie Movie?

*Spoiler Alert!

Major White Zombie & The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Plot Points Ahead!

"Before we get through with this thing

we may uncover sins that even the devil would be ashamed of."*

White Zombie, released in 1932, stared Bela Lugosi, of Dracula 1927 Stage and 1931 Screen fame, as Voodoo Master, Murder Legendre. Utilizing a potion that kills the individual to be brought back to life as a zombie, Murder uses them as laborers at his sugarcane mill and body guards at his cliff side fortress castle. He can sense his enemies presence and can mentally control his zombies, silently commanding orders to kill. It isn't until Murder's own death that the zombies are released from their trance like state.

Then there is the movie that wasn't a "talkie", but a German expressionist silent film from 1920, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Considered one of the silent film era's greatest horor movies, the films "zombie" is best described as "a near-silent somnambulist whom the doctor keeps in a coffin-like cabinet" and is being displayed as an attraction at a carnival in the German mountain village of Holstenwall. Cesare, as the hypnotically controlled somnambulist is known, can, from being in a continuous sleeping state, answer any question about the future. "Dr. Caligari", the local insane asylum's director, uses his somnambulist under his control to commit murder. Cesare is ordered to kill a young lady but doesn't go through with it because of her beauty. He instead carries her to safety as he is pursued by an angry mob of townsfolk. Cesare, the somnambulist, releases the young lady and, after a long chase, collapses of exhaustion and dies.

While we cannot dispute which of these two films was first released, we can start the argument about what constitutes these films as zombie movies. To do this we need to dissect these ghouls and see what makes them zombies.

100 Years Of Motion Pictures

Movies Have Been Around For Over 100 Years


In The 17th Century, A Laterna Magica, Or Magic Lantern, Was Used To Project Images On Glass Slides Or Etched Into Metal Slides. The Projected Images Were Weak And Dim Until The Argand Lamp Was Invented In The 1790's. In The 1820's, The Limelight Made It Even Brighter, Along With The Electric Arc Lamp In The 1860's.


The Mutoscope, Praxinoscope, And Zoetrope, Came About In The 1860's, Producing 2D/Two-Dimensional Drawings In Motion, What Would Be The Basis For The Development Of Film Animation.


In 1878, The Penny Arcade Came Thanks To Still Photography On Celluloid Film, Allowing One Person At A Time To Witness A Horse Gallop Or Dancer Can-Can.


By The 1880's, The Motion Picture Camera Was Not Only Capturing Images But Storing Them All On The Same Reel. A Motion Picture Projector Was Then Used To Shine Light Through The Printed Processed Film And Magnify These Moving Pictures Onto A Screen For An Entire Audience. The Silent Film era was about to begin.


With The Means To Create A Moving Picture Or Motion Picture, The Next Step Was Narration. Scenes Were Collected To Create Long One Story Narratives. These Scenes Were Comprised Of Individual Shots In Varying Angles And Sizes, Including The Moving Of The Motion Picture Camera Itself.


To Eliminate The Noise From The Projectors, Theatre Owners Would Employ An Organist, Pianist Or Entire Orchestra To Play Music. Eventually, Sheet Music Or Complete Musical Film Scores Would Accompany Film Reels To Theatres.


The First Film Screened In Third Dimension, Or 3-D, Was The Silent Film The Power Of Love In September Of 1922. In Glorious Red And Green, It Was The First Time Anaglyph Glasses Were Used. Being Impractical, 3D would Take On Many Incarnations Before Being Buried To Wait For The Right Mad Scientists To Revive It


Talkies Or Talking Pictures Came To Be In The 1920's And 30's, Allowing Synchronized Speech, Sound Effects And Musical Scores To Enhance The Visual Experience Of Motion Pictures.


1934 Brought The Advent Of Color To The Motion Pictures With The Three-Srip Technicolor Process. Unfortunately, Because Home Television Units Were Still In Black-and-White, Audiences Weren't Too Keen On Color Films Yet. And It Was Because Of These TV's That There Was A Decline In Movie Theatre Audiences In The Early 50's.


Which Was When 3-D Reached Out Of The Big Screen And Pulled Audiences Back Into Theatres With The First Color Stereoscopic Motion Picture, Bwana Devil, Shot In Natural Vision, Introducing The Golden Era Of 3-D In The Mid 50's With Other 3-D Methods Like Stereo Techniques And Triorama, Among Others. In April Of 1953, House Of Wax With Vincent Price Was Released In 3-D And Stereophonic Sound.


Color Television Sets Now Became More Affordable Letting Color Invade Home Living Rooms And Gradually Replace Black-and-White Films, Which Were Still Being Made Well Into The 1960's.


IMAX Brought Progress And Harmony To Expo '70 In Osaka, Japan With Their First Film, Tiger Child. And At Expo '74, In Spokane, Washington, A Large IMAX Screen Measuring 300 x 213 ft (90 x 65 m) Was Used, Covering The Viewers Complete Field Of Vision When Looking Directly Forward, Causing Some To Experience Motion Sickness.


Video Recording Devices Began Production In The Mid 1970's, With VCR's Using Video Cassettes In VHS & Sony's Betamax Formats, With Sony Loosing The Videotape Format War. But It Wasn't Until The Late 70's And 1980's That Movies Began To Invade Homes Bringing A Whole New Wave Of Films As Direct To Video Releases.


In The Early 1990's, With Advanced Digital Technology, CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) Took Form On The Big Screen. Online Film And Video Distribution Began And DVD Discs Replaced VHS Tapes. In The Late 90's, Physical Film Stock Began To Be Replaced By Digital Cinema Technology.


2000's Defined The Entry OF 1080p HDTV's Into The Mainstream Market. And With High Definition Television Came High Definition Home Video Systems With Both Toshiba's HD DVD & Sony's Blu-Ray Technology Releasing Players In 2006. This Time It Was Sony's Blu-ray Technology That Won The High Definition Digital Format War Thanks In Part To Its PlayStation 3 Video Game Console Which Strictly Used Blu-ray Technology.


D-Box Was Introduced Into Movie Theatres In 2009. Taking Motion Simulator Technology Used In Certain Amusement Theme Park Rides And Applying It Directly To Movie Theatre Seats Equipped With This Technology, Literally Moving You Through The Motion Picture. This D-Box Technology Is Also Embedded In Most Blu-ray Movies, Allowing For An At Home Movie Motion Simulator.


Now You Can Watch A Movie On High Definition 1080p 3-D D-Box Blu-ray In The Comfort Of Your Home. Or Even Carry A Few Of Them In A Flash Drive In Your Pocket.


Who's To Say Where Motion Pictures Will Take Us From Here?


Where Ever It Is, You Can Bet The Patiently Persistent Zombie Will Shamble Along.