Wednesday, February 5, 2014

BLACK MOON (1934)

Seemingly slightly admired, but I mostly found this Columbia voodoo romp a huge borefest.  A girl is born on a voodoo island, one of a handful of whites amidst thousands of blacks (we are told this A WHOLE LOT).  She grows up to marry a white man in America, where the demographics are reversed.  But the taint of voodoo has sunk into her blood and now she bangs drums in the attic and pines away for the rituals of her native climes.


Fay Wray is slumming it up one year after KING KONG!  Her performance as a lovestruck secretary probably is not a performance for the ages, but she looks good.  The rest of the cast performs adequately, robbing the viewer of so-bad-it's-good excitement and delivering a dusty, professional B-film.


BLACK MOON baits race, as mentioned, although it gives us a "good guy" American black, incredibly named Lunch.  For the most part, though, blacks are hellish monsters here, shamelessly menacing the noble innocent white plantation owners.  BLACK MOON might not make easy viewing if you're carrying a lot of historical guilt.


Don't worry, you're not missing out on much.  I ordinarily get off on subdued atmosphere and building menace, but BLACK MOON is way too talky and jerkily-structured to work really well.  Thanks for putting your lead actress in a sheer dress, but those scenes are surrounded by sheer timidity.


For this kind of thing, I'd opt for Allison Hayes's trashy voodoo exploiter THE DISEMBODIED.  It lacks the star power and sumptuous sets of BLACK MOON (and the maddening arsenal of objects in the foreground), but it's a little more fun and at least occasionally rises from its deathbed to try to entertain you, the viewer.  It's pretty amazing that there are almost no voodoo movies that are legitimately good (is I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE the only one?).  


RATING: 5

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