‘Cursed by a voodoo hoodoo on a howling zombie hunt!’
Zombies on Broadway is a 1945 American horror comedy film directed by Gordon Douglas (Them!; Spooky Hooky) from a screenplay by Robert Kent and Lawrence Kimble. The film stars RKO’s Abbott and Costello imitators, Alan Carney and Wally Brown, plus Anne Jeffreys and Bela Lugosi.
Zombies on Broadway was profitable for RKO, therefore the studio re-united Brown, Carney, Anne Jeffreys and Bela Lugosi for Genius at Work (1945).
Apparently fragile British sensibilities to horror lore decreed that the UK title was changed to Loonies on Broadway.
New York: Jerry Miles and Mike Strager are employed as Broadway press agents. Their latest idea is to hire a “genuine zombie” for the opening of The Zombie Hut, a new cabaret nightclub owned by gangster Ace Miller that will open the following Friday the 13th.
The press agents’ plan is to dress a former boxer up as a zombie, figuring no one will know the difference. However, Ace’s nemesis, a Walter Winchell type radio celebrity is friends with the boxer and vows he will publicly humiliate Ace Miller if a real zombie is not at the opening of the club.
Ace threatens the hapless duo with death unless they produce a real zombie. They discover a lead from a museum curator that a mysterious Professor Renault lives on the Caribbean island of San Sebastian and has been creating zombies. Ace’s henchmen, force the boys onto a tramp steamer sailing to the Virgin Islands with orders to bring back a real zombie…
The comedy gags are well placed, and dutifully timed. More to the point, Brown and Carney are an amusing duo, and do their best not to irritate with their antics. Lugosi is a sport, delivering another mad scientist performance with just the right dose of feisty zeal. And Darby Jones (from Val Lewton’s 1943 I Walked with a Zombie) turns in another memorable zombie routine.” The Terror Trap
“The dialogue and gags are dreadfully unfunny, including some rather racist humor that was outdated in 1945. The only truly funny scene involves Lugosi, the monkey, and a chest of drawers reminiscent of the Three Stooges. Even a good supporting cast (Leonard, Ian Wolfe, Frank Jenks) can’t save this one.” Gary Loggins, Cracked Rear Viewer
“That Zombies on Broadway remains at all watchable and occasionally even mildly diverting can be put down to two reasons: Bela Lugosi’s enthusiastic playing and director Gordon Douglas’ deft handling of the fright factor (something few horror comedies can boast of).” Bryan Senn, Drums of Terror: Voodoo in the Cinema
“True, a lot of the comic patter falls flat and there are those cringe-inducing moments of racial stereotypes played for comedy that were typical of its era – the nervous black janitor, superstitious natives, etc. But even with all of those handicaps, it’s not as bad as its reputation.” Jeff Stafford, Cinema Sojourns
” …the only real entertainment value to be had in Zombies on Broadway, apart from spotting connections to I Walked With a Zombie, is derived from the scenes involving the little monkey, who clearly believes he’s working on a much better film than everyone else.” Arnold T. Blumberg, Zombiemania: 80 Movies to Die For
“Brown and Carney aren’t funny, and it’s sad to see Lugosi outwitted by a pack of morons.” Peter Dendle, The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia
Professor Paul Renault: “Oh, what is wrong? What is wrong? How can the natives do with their silly voodoo what I cannot accomplish with my scientific means?”
Professor Paul Renault: “Have them dig a couple of graves for themselves, in case this experiment fails.”
Cast and characters:
- Wally Brown … Jerry Miles
- Alan Carney .. .Mike Strager
- Bela Lugosi … Professor Paul Renault
- Anne Jeffreys … Jean La Danse
- Sheldon Leonard … Ace Miller
- Frank Jenks … Gus
- Russell Hopton … Benny
- Joseph Vitale … Joseph
- Ian Wolfe … Professor Hopkins (Homebodies; Diary of a Madman; Bedlam; Mad Love; The Raven)
- Louis Jean Heydt … Douglas Walker
- Darby Jones … Kalaga – the Zombie (Black Magic; I Walked with a Zombie)
- Robert Clarke … Wimpy
- Rosemary La Planche … Entertainer in Sarong (Strangler of the Swamp)
- Sir Lancelot … Calypso Singer (The Unknown Terror; The Curse of the Cat People; The Ghost Ship)
- Jason Robards Sr. … Headwaiter
- Nick Stewart … Worthington
- Bill Williams … Smuggler sailor