While not a huge success financially or critically, White Zombie has gained a good reputation over the years as not only the first Zombie film but as underrated one.
The story is simple enough, a couple has gone to Haiti to be married in the castle like home of a man they barely know. That man has met to to be bride on a voyage and has fallen in love with her and decides that in order to have her, he will use the magic powers of Murder Legendre, seriously that IS his name, who has a small battalion of zombies at his disposal. Things do not go as planned and the bride is turned into a creature under the control of Legendre and her wanna be lover realizes too late that zombies are not fun dates and he would prefer her happy, even if not with him. Lugosi's Legendre has other plans but is thwarted by the local priest and the newlywed husband.
This movie has some stunning matte paintings, very moody and cool cinematography and. especially for the time, a unique zombie premise that has more to do with real zombie legends than pretty much most other films that have come after it. What it does not have is good acting (except by Lugosi who is amazing and carries the film), good pacing or decent music appropriate for the setting.
This does not make for a great film but one worth seeing, in my opinion anyway. Like many older films I feel like a reedit could help it immensely. Taking out the long drawn out scenes and condensing the film to the essentials would pick up the pace and make little plot problems like what couple would decide to get married at some weird stranger's house on a zombie island because they met him on a boat. There is a decent, maybe fantastic film in here and it peeks through enough to keep you watching. Lugosi proves why he was such a star, his powers over the undead are shown solely through his physicality and not through effects like they would be today.