“King of the Zombies” is a horror-comedy film directed by Jean Yarbrough and released in 1941. The movie is set during World War II and follows a group of individuals who become stranded on a remote Caribbean island.
The film’s protagonist is James McCarthy (Dick Purcell), a pilot who, along with his assistant, Bill Summers (Mantan Moreland), and his socialite passenger, Barbara Winslow (Joan Woodbury), crash-lands on the island. They are taken in by Dr. Sangre (Henry Victor), a sinister scientist who is conducting experiments on zombies in his secluded mansion.
Sangre’s assistant, a voodoo priest named Momba (John Archer), is in charge of the zombies, which he uses to do his bidding. Momba hypnotizes Bill, forcing him to do his bidding, and they set out to find a secret formula that Sangre believes will help the Axis powers win the war.
James and Barbara, meanwhile, are locked up in the mansion and try to escape. They discover that the mansion is filled with zombies, which they must fight off to get to safety.
In the end, James and Barbara manage to escape, and Sangre and Momba are killed in a final confrontation with the zombies. James and his companions make their way back to civilization, but not before experiencing several more supernatural and comedic mishaps along the way.
Overall, “King of the Zombies” is a low-budget, campy horror-comedy film that is notable for its portrayal of zombies as mindless, obedient servants rather than the flesh-eating monsters they are commonly known as today.
Dick Purcell, Joan Woodbury, Mantan Moreland