Four Shall Die

a/k/a Condemned Men

Details:
Release Date:  10/15/1940
B&W
Genre:  Crime
Studio:  Million Dollar Productions
Directors:  William Beaudine, Leo C. Popkin

Cast:
Niel Webster (Pierre Touissant), Mantan Moreland (Beefus – Touissant’s Chauffeur), Laurence Criner (Roger Fielding), Dorothy Dandridge (Helen Fielding), Vernon McCalla (Dr. Webb), Monte Hawley (Dr. Hugh Leonard), Reginald Fenderson (Hickson), Jack Carr (Lew Covey), Jess Lee Brooks (Bill Summers).

Story:
Helen Fielding, heir to the fortune of the late millionaire Roger Fielding, Sr., has broken off her relationship with the unscrupulous Lew Covey to pursue a romance with reporter Bill Summers. Covey, determined to get at Helen’s inheritance, vows to win her back. When Hickson, a friend of Helen’s, tells Dr. Hugh Leonard and Covey about a visitation he had from his dead mother’s spirit, Covey expresses disbelief and bets Hickson that he can’t prove the visitation took place so Hickson takes the men to Dr. Ronald Webb’s spiritualistic parlor.  There the voice of “Momba,” an angry spirit, warns Covey that he will die later that night. The spirit also portends the deaths of Hickson and Leonard, telling them that they will die one day apart from each other following Covey’s death.  The spirit of Helen’s dead father, Roger Fielding, Sr., also visits and warns that his son Roger Fielding, Jr., will be the next to die.

Later that night, Helen discovers Covey’s dead body in her room.  They agree not to tell the police about the death, and instead call on the famous detective Pierre Touissant and his assistant, Beefus, to help solve the case. The following night, Hickson is shot to death by a man named Jefferson after a violent quarrel.   Hoping to escape from his predicted fate, Roger takes the advice of Webb and plans to set sail for Argentina, but Touissant and Beefus prevent him from leaving.

Eventually Touissant exposes Webb who had planned all along to frighten everyone with fake apparitions and phony murders in order to get the inheritance. Covey and Hickson, who are very much alive, arrive with the police, proving Touissant’s explanation was true.

Notes:

The plot summary was taken from a synopsis contained in the file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library.  According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, “Pierre Touissant” was the name of the “grandson of Toussaint L’Overture, Haitian general who defied Napoleon.”

This film is presumed lost.

Source(s):  Matinee Classics; TCM; DAARAC.org; Wikipedia.

Son Of Ingagi

a/k/a House of Horror (working title)

Details:
Year of Release:  1940
B&W
Genre:  Horror /Thriller
Runtime:  70 mins.
Director:  Richard C. Kahn

Cast:
Zack Williams as N’Gina
Laura Bowman as Dr. Helen Jackson
Alfred Grant as Robert Lindsay
Daisy Bufford as Eleanor Lindsay
Arthur Ray as Zeno Jackson
Spencer Williams as Nelson
Earl J. Morris as Bradshaw

Story:

Moments after the wedding of Bob and Eleanor Lindsay, Dr. Helen Jackson, a wealthy old recluse who knew Eleanor’s parents, has her lawyer Bradshaw draw up her will, leaving her fortune and gloomy house to the newlyweds.

While the wedding reception is in full swing, Helen, observes the festivities through a window.  When she arrives home, she finds her criminal brother Zeno waiting for her.  Helen rings an Oriental gong, which summons a strange ape-man she calls N’Gina who she’d brought back from Africa while doing missionary work.  N’Gina frightens Zeno away.

That night, Helen concocts a potion for an experiment, but N’Gina drinks it and becomes so enraged he kills her. Bob and Eleanor find Helen’s body, and because they are named as the beneficiaries in her will, they are initially suspected of her murder. Eventually they are acquitted of the crime, and move into Helen’s manor, where Eleanor soon discovers that food is mysteriously disappearing.  Bradshaw, the executor of Helen’s will, tries to convince them to sell the house.  Later while Bradshaw rummages through a desk hunting for $20,000 in gold which it is believed Helen had hidden in the house, he carelessly rings the gong, summoning N’Gina from his hiding place in the cellar.  N’Gina brutally kills Bradshaw.

Nelson, the detective assigned to the case, moves into the home.  Zeno breaks in to steal Helen’s gold but N’Gina catches him, kills him and drags Zeno’s body upstairs to Nelson’s room.  The creature then captures Eleanor and takes her to the cellar.  When Nelson wakes up and sees Zeno’s body, his shouts awaken Bob, who then begins to search for Eleanor.

N’Gina accidentally starts a fire, and Eleanor’s screams draw Bob to the basement. Bob locks the beast in a cell, and as the house and N’Gina go up in flames Bob and Eleanor escape unharmed while Nelson emerges from the shrubbery with the gold.

Notes:

The first science fiction horror film to feature an all-black cast.  The movie was written by Spencer Williams based on his own short story, House of Horror.

Source(s):  TCM, DAARAC.org.

Movie:

 

A Son of Satan

Details:
Release Date:  9/18/1924
Runtime: 70 mins.
Silent
Black & White
Studio:  Micheaux Film
Director:  Oscar Micheaux

Cast:
Andrew S. Bishop, Lawrence Chenault, Emmet Anthony, Edna Morton, Monte Hawley, Shingzie Howard, Ida Anderson, E. G. Tatum, Dink Stewart, W. B. F. Crowell, Olivia Sewall, Mildred Smallwood, Blanche Thompson, Margaret Brown, and Professor Hosay. Some of the original cast from the hit Broadway musicals Shuffle Along and Runnin’ Wild appear in the movie, including Aubrey Lyles and F. E. Miller, Adelaide Hall, Arthur Cooper, Mildred Baker, Ina Duncan, and Arthur Porter.

Story:
Movie depicts the experiences of an African-American man spending the night in a haunted house as a result of an argument.  The film contained scenes of drinking, of masked men becoming drunk, the stoning of a cat, a man murdering his wife, and the killing of a leader of “the hooded organization.”

Notes:
The working title of this film was The Ghost of Tolston’s Manor. Shooting began March 26, 1923 at a Bronx studio, then moved to an outdoor location in Roanoke, VA, according to a news item. The house used in the film was more than two hundred years old and was located at Clason’s Point, NY.   Critic D. Ireland Thomas, writing in the African-American newspaper Chicago Defender, commented, “Some May not like the production because it shows up some of our Race in their true colors. They might also protest against the language used…. I must admit that it is true to nature, yes, I guess, too true. We have got to hand it to Oscar Micheaux when it comes to giving us the real stuff.”

A Son of Satan ran into distribution problems when state censorship boards rejected the film based on its contents. New York censors objected to the film’s depiction of violence, particularly against women and animals, while Virginia censors complained the film’s references to miscegenation would “prove offensive to Southern ladies”.  The film’s protagonist was biracial.  According to the board, “the central figure in the plot is a mulatto whose villainies justify the significant title of the photoplay.”  Even more scandalous to the white board members was that “the audience is led to believe that the criminal tendencies of the man are inherited from his white forefathers.”

This film is presumed lost.

Source(s):  TCM; DAARAC.org; Movie Censorship and American Culture, Race, Gender, and Film Censorship in Virginia, 1922–1965.

Ouanga

a/k/a The Love Wanga
a/k/a Crime of Voodoo
a/k/a Drums of the Jungle

Details:
Year of Release:  1936
B&W
Genre:  Horror
Runtime:  56 mins.
Director:  George Terwilliger

Cast:

Fredi Washington (Klili/Clelie Gordon), Philip Brandon (Adam Maynard), Marie Paxton (Eve Langley), Sheldon Leonard (LeStrange), Winifred Harris (Aunt Sarah), Sid Easton (Jackson), Babe Joyce (Susie), George Spink (Johnson).

Story:

The story centers around a light skinned Black woman, Klili (also known as Clelie on posters) who is a voodoo practitioner. She possesses a medallion called a “love wanga” that if lost will result in hardship and even death. Klili is in love with Adam Maynard, a White man she “kept company” with while they lived on the same plantation a few years back.

Adam brings Eve Langley, a woman he met on a trip to New York and is intent on marrying, to Haiti.  Klili throws herself at Adam, insisting she’s White and that her skin color won’t impede their happiness, but he rejects her.

The Black plantation overseer, LeStrange (played by white actor Sheldon Leonard) is in love with Klili but she only wants Adam.  With the help of a voodoo leader, Klili visits a graveyard and resurrects two zombies to abduct Eve and offer her up for sacrifice.  As Klili and her followers prepare Eve for the ceremony, LeStrange tries to stop her, but she shoots him.  Though Injured, LeStrange steals Klili’s love ouanga and sets it on fire. Klili runs off into the jungle, where he follows her and strangles her to death.

 

Notes:

Although originally scheduled to film in Haiti, production on Ouanga had to move to Jamaica when locals expressed hostility at the idea of having voodoo exploited for cheap thrills.

Some sources cite that the movie was completed in 1935 or 1936, but wasn’t released in the United States until 1941 and was billed as adult only entertainment under the title The Love Wanga possibly because the film’s themes of miscegenation and the occult were impossible to pass under the Production Code prior to that time.

Remade as The Devil’s Daughter in 1939.

Source(s):  DAARAC.org; Black Horror Movies; I See A Dark Theater, World Cat.

Movie:

Witching Eyes

Details
Year of Release:  1929
B&W
Genre:  Horror /Thriller
Runtime:  Unknown
Director/Writer/Producer:  Ernest Stearns

Cast
Salem Tutt Whitney, Sylvia Birdsong, Lorenzo Tucker

Story:
Haitian Val Napolo, possessed of a witching hand and the evil eye, is persuaded by his friend Cortex to go to the United States and pose as a leader of his people.  Napolo meets with great success and gets to know Sylvia Smith, the daughter of a recently deceased black leader.  Napolo develops a burning desire for Sylvia, but she favors Ralph Irving, a gentle poet.  Napolo puts a curse on them and breaks up the love affair.  When Sylvia still refuses him, Napolo kidnaps her.  Ralph learns of the abduction and rescues Sylvia, discrediting Napolo in the eyes of his people.

Notes:
This film is presumed lost.

Source(s):  American Silent Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Feature Films, 1913-1929.

Bikini Moon

Release Date:  10/12/18; In Theaters
(Original Release Date – 2017)
Genre:  Drama
Rating:  NR
Director:  Milcho Manchevski
Studio(s):  Czar Film, YN Films, Milkman Productions, Banana Film DOOEL
Running Time:  104 mins.
Cast:  Condola Rashad (Bikini), Sarah Goldberg (Kate), Will Janowitz (Trevor), Sathya Sridharan (Krishna).

Story:  Initially discovered when the documentary filmmakers happen upon her at a homeless center, the lively and charismatic Bikini, soon becomes entrenched in the lives of the crew as they struggle to simultaneously help Bikini stay on her feet and complete their project. A self-described “Jesus with tits,” Bikini yearns to use her master carpentry skills to build a new life for herself and the daughter that was taken away by the foster care system.  Source:  Bikinimoonmovie.com, official site; The Hollywood Reporter.

Trailer:

Overlord

Release Date:  11/9/18; In Theaters
Genre:  Horror
Rating:  NR
Director:  Julius Avery
Studio(s):   Bad Robot, Paramount Pictures
Running Time:  109 mins.

Cast:  Jovan Adepo (Pvt. Boyce), Wyatt Russell (Sgt. Ford), Mathilde Ollivier (Chloe), Pilou Asbæk (Dr. Wafner), Jacob Anderson (Grady), Dominic Applewhite (Rosenfeld), Iain De Caestecker (Chase), John Magaro (Tibbet), Bokeem Woodbine (Eldson).
Story:   On the eve of D-Day during World War II, American paratroopers are caught behind enemy lines after their plane crashes on a mission to destroy a German Radio Tower in a small town outside of Normandy. After reaching their target, the paratroopers come to realize that besides fighting off Nazi soldiers, they also must face off against horrifying, bloody, and violent creatures that are a result of a secret Nazi experiment.  Source:  Movie Insider; IMDB.

Trailer: