Holland Releasing's WHITE ZOMBIE - THE RESTORATION to Have Atlanta Premiere
Jan 03, 2013

  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

RESTORATION OF FIRST ZOMBIE MOVIE

TO HAVE WORLD PREMIERE IN ATLANTA


Historic Plaza Theatre to Debut

Lost Bela Lugosi Classic on January 18th


Two Atlanta-Area Firms Assisted in the

Historic Digital Restoration of WHITE ZOMBIE 


January 8, 2013

Los Angeles, California

CONTACT:  Holland Releasing (818) 704-6650  Info@HollandReleasing.com

 

            White Zombie, considered one of the best gothic horror films ever made -- and the very first zombie movie, will have the world premiere of its new digital restoration at the historic Plaza Theatre in Atlanta on Friday, January 18th at 8pm and then continue on at the Plaza for a full week from January 25-31, 2013.  Directed by two young brothers in 1932, with sets borrowed from Universal Studio's Dracula, Frankenstein and  The Hunchback of Notre Dame, this premiere Atlanta engagement marks the first time the classic horror film has been seen on the big screen in over eighty years.

Following its Atlanta premiere, White Zombie will be released on a one-time-only basis to theaters across the United States and Canada.  Long thought lost, with only grainy, poor quality videos left in existence, a previously unknown original 35mm print was recently discovered by Holland Releasing in Los Angeles.  This one-of-a-kind print had been secreted away decades earlier by an aged film collector worried that, without a major studio to care for its negatives, the ground-breaking independent film could be lost forever.

With White Zombie, Bela Lugosi followed up his star-making role in Dracula with this exquisitely atmospheric 1932 horror film from the Halperin brothers, who effectively transplanted the misty gothic mood of the Universal horror films to their poverty-row studio.  In fact, with the young producer's tight budget, sets had to be rented from Universal Studios.  Even Universalís all-star horror makeup king Jack Pierce created the bizarre and frightening characters.  White Zombie drips with atmosphere from the opening, as eerie chanting accompanies the credits and co-star Madge Bellamy arrives at midnight to witness a mysterious burial before coming face to face with the satanic looking Murder Legendre (Lugosi with goatee and searing eyes), a hypnotist and voodoo master who has been supplying the local mills with an army of zombie laborers.  But the nightmare is just beginning, having landed in a world of almost perpetual night, where hollow-eyed zombies lumber through the sugar mill and the ghostly town is eerily bereft of living souls.  Bellamy becomes the object of desire for Lugosi, whose plan to possess her involves her initiation to the world of the undead. This very first zombie movie is also one of the best, with Lugosiís archly sinister performance dominating the film.  The astounding sets and gorgeous matte paintings create a wondrous sense of poetic doom.

The restoration of White Zombie began five years ago and, according to executive producer Thomas W. Holland (formerly a resident of Marietta and Roswell), was stalled by the extremely poor quality of available materials. "But then I heard a rumor about an old fellow who claimed to have a superb, original 35mm print," Holland says, "and that began a worldwide search to find this aging, eccentric film lover and convince him to let us acquire the film for a full restoration.  People think I'm joking when I say I had to go through a friend of a friend of a friend to contact this man."  When the original print was finally acquired, Holland was stunned at its overall condition.  "It which must have been removed from theatrical service early on, or been set aside as a special studio print." he surmises.

Atlanta-area firm AlgoSoft-Tech USA, based in Bishop, Georgia, was hired to return White Zombie's image quality to original standards.  AlgoSoft's president, Dr. Inna Kozlov, a famed mathematician in her native Russia, took on the project with great excitement.  "We arranged to have the vintage 35mm print scanned, frame-by-frame, at a very high resolution," says Dr. Kozlov, "so as not to lose any information."  From that point, Dr. Koslov and her technology developer, Dr. Alexander Petukhov, a mathematics professor at the University of Georgia, wrote customized software to correct any imperfections in each frame.  "Our goal was to return the film's visuals to how they looked in 1932, the way a vintage carbon arc light source would have glistened through a silver nitrate print of the era" Kozlov said.  This beautiful 'look' took thousands of hours of intense work and calculations.

Another Atlanta firm, Crawford Productions, was chosen to do the final re-assembly of the motion picture which included intensely detailed color-correction.  "Being a black-and-white film, White Zombie required far more expertise and patience than a typical color feature to get the light levels correct," says producer Holland.  "This film is a gothic masterpiece and we wanted it to look exactly the way it did when audiences first saw it."  

Once the Georgia image work was completed, the master was sent to Chace Audio by Deluxe in Burbank, California.  Using a variety of sources, Chace remastered the film's faded audio tracks to make the sound of equal quality to the restored picture.  "Early sound films had a tremendous amount of inherent hiss, clicks and pops," Holland says, "but Chace was able to give us a new audio track that greatly reduced this.   We weren't looking to make a hi-fi version of the White Zombie track, just a cleaner, clearer representation of how the movie originally sounded in theaters of the Thirties."

When the Plaza Theater plays White Zombie later this month, the program will also include "Is My Palm Read?", a rare 1932 Max Fleischer cartoon starring Betty Boop.  "Just like White Zombie, the Boop cartoon is Pre-Code, so its got a sexy undertone that's tame today but was later banned from the movies," states Plaza owner Michael Furlinger.  "And following the main feature, we're showing a 1932 short subject called "An Intimate Interview with Bela Lugosi'.  Its great to see this bigger-than-life movie icon relaxing at home and telling Hollywood stories," Furlinger reports.

The Plaza's new owner adds, "On opening night (Friday, January 18th) it'll be zombie madness at the Plaza.  One of the Walking Dead make-up people will introduce the movie and afterward there will be a Q&A session with the locals who partiipated in the restoration of White Zombie."

The historic Plaza Theater is located at 1049 Ponce De Leon Avenue in Atlanta.  The box office can be reached at (404) 876-8048.

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