Drums O’ Voodoo

a/k/a Louisiana
a/k/a She Devil
a/k/a Voodoo Devil Drums
a/k/a Voodoo Drums

 Details:

Year of Release:  1934
B&W
Genre:  Horror
Runtime:  70 mins.
Studio(s): Sack Amusement Enterprises
Director:  Arthur Hoerl

Cast:

Laura Bowman (Aunt Hagar), Edna Barr (Myrtle Simpson), Lionel Monagas (Ebenezer), J. Augustus Smith (Amos Berry), Morris McKenny (Thomas Catt), A. B. Comathiere (Deacon Dunson), Alberta Perkins, (Sister Knight), Fred Bonny (Brother Zero), Paul Johnson (Deacon August), Trixie Smith (Sister Marguerite), Carrie Huff (Sister Zuzan)

 Story:

Thomas Catt, the proprietor of a “jook,” a Southern cabaret-brothel, desires young, virginal Myrtle Simpson, the niece of preacher Amos Berry and fiancée of the grandson of Aunt Hagar, the local voodoo high priestess.

Although Catt threatens to expose Amos’ past to his congregation if he refuses to “give” Myrtle to him, Amos resists Catt’s attempts at blackmail, while Aunt Hagar activates some of her voodoo spells.

Later, during one of Amos’ spirited revival meetings, Catt bursts in and, after drawing his razor, announces that he has come to claim Myrtle. Defied by both Aunt Hagar’s grandson and Amos, Catt starts to reveal to the congregation that Amos had once murdered a man. In the middle of his exposé, however, Catt is struck by a bolt of lightning and is blinded, a fate that had been predicted by Aunt Hagar. Catt is then smothered in a pool of quicksand, and Myrtle and Amos are at last freed from their tormentor.

 

Notes:

The New York State Censor Board records from 1934 indicate that the film was retitled The DevilDrums o’ Voodoo was re-released in 1940 under the title She Devil.  In 1981, the film was found in a warehouse by historian-producer Alex Gordon.

The screenplay was based on the stage play, Louisiana, by J. Augustus Smith.  Most of the all-black cast, including playwright J. Augustus Smith, also appeared in the stage play, which was produced on Broadway by the Negro Theatre Guild.  The play was one act long and was only performed eight times, partly because of the criticism of Brooks Atkinson of New York Times.

Modern sources list the title as Voodoo Devil Drums and Voodoo Drums.  Additional cast members from modern sources include James Davis (Brother Zumee), Ruth Morrison (Sister Gaghan), Harriet Daughtry (Sister Lauter), Bennie Small (Bou Bouche), Pedro Lopez (Marcon), Jennie Day, Gladys Booker, Herminie Sullivan, Lillian Exum, Edith Woodby, Mabel Grant, Marion Hughes, Madeline Smith, Theresa Harris, Dorothy St. Claire, Eleanor Hines, Pauline Freeman, Annabelle Smith, Jacquiline Ghant, Annabelle Ross and Harriett Scott (Members of the Flat Rock Washfoot Baptist Church), Cherokee Thornton, Arthur McLean, DeWitt Davis, Rudoph Walker, Marvin Everhart, Jimmie Cook, Irene Bagley, Sally Timmons, Beatrice James and Marie Remsen (Voodoo Dancers).  Source(s):  TCM, DAARAC,org, Movieposters.

Movie

Chloe Love Is Calling You

a/k/a Chloe

Details:

Release Date:  4/1/1934
Runtime:  62 mins/54 mins (DVD)
Black & White
Studio:  Pinnacle Productions
Director:  Marshall Neilan

 

Cast:

Georgette Harvey (Old Mandy), Olive Borden (Chloe/Betty Ann Gordon), Reed Howes (Wade Carson), Philip Ober (Jim Strong), Francis Joyner (Colonel Gordon), Augustus Smith (Mose), Molly O’Day (Joyce, the Colonel’s niece)

Story:

Mandy, a voodoo practicing nursemaid, returns to the swamps of the Everglades with her half-white daughter Chloe and helper, Jim Strong, to exact revenge on Colonel Gordon, the man she believes is responsible for the lynching of her husband Sam fifteen years earlier. The widowed colonel, whose daughter Betty Ann drowned in the swamps around the same time that Sam was killed, lives with his niece Joyce and oversees the family turpentine factory.  As Chloe, Mandy and Jim near the colonel’s home, Chloe expresses doubts about her Black heritage and rejects the proposal of the devoted Jim.

Wade Carson, the new “Yankee” foreman of the turpentine factory, meanwhile, impresses the colonel when he discovers shortages at the factory and establishes that Mose, one of the employees, has been stealing from the company. After Wade fires Mose, Mose swears revenge and then tries to force his attentions on Chloe. Wade comes to Chloe’s rescue, however, further aggravating Mose and Mose prepares to shoot Wade but is stopped by Joe, who is then crushed to see Wade walk Chloe home.

Later, while Mandy and Mose join forces and plan their voodoo revenge, Chloe and Jim argue about Chloe’s attraction to the “white northerner.”  Then, on the anniversary of Betty Ann’s disappearance, Mandy leaves voodoo switches on the colonel’s doorstep and initiates a drum-beating ceremony. During the ceremony, Mandy, who is also concerned about Chloe’s interest in Wade, drugs her tea and orders Jim to take advantage of her subsequent stupor to assure their marriage.  Jim refuses to seduce Chloe, but after seeing Wade kiss Chloe, he confronts Wade and tells him that she is half-Black and therefore “off-limits.”  Although Wade is reluctant to believe Jim about Chloe, he takes seriously his warning that Mandy and Mose are plotting against him and the colonel.

The Colonel and Wade then break into Mandy’s cabin and there discover clothes that Betty Ann was wearing the day she drowned. When Chloe identifies the clothes as ones she wore as a child, the colonel becomes convinced she is his daughter. Mandy, however, denies that she kidnapped Chloe to replace her own dead child, and the colonel’s niece, Joyce, who is attracted to Wade, also expresses doubts about Chloe’s white parentage.

At a party in her honor, a confused and distraught Chloe flees into the swamps, while the colonel and Wade, determined to prove their hunch, send the local doctor to dig up a grave that the colonel believes contains Mandy’s black baby. Meanwhile Mose ambushes Chloe in the swamp and brings her to Mandy’s voodoo ceremony, where they plan to sacrifice her.

 

Wade and the colonel, however, arrive in time to save Chloe, after which the doctor confirms that the baby buried at Mandy’s house is black. At last assured of her “whiteness,” Chloe is free to pursue her romance with Wade.

 

Notes:

Ohio banned the movie as “harmful.”  White actress Olive Borden plays Chloe, who is trying to avenge her Black father’s lynching but along the way falls in love with a White man who works for Col. Gordon, the rich factory owner who orchestrated the killing.  Later she discovers that Gordon is her biological father and that she is white.  The lynching, though not shown in the film, may have factored into Chloe’s censorship.  But the narrative twists trick audiences into believing she is black and then insists (on a string of unstable evidence – most notably, the dress she wore as a child) that she is white and can marry a white man.  Chloe was unlike Imitation of Life in that it admitted interracial desire and sex:  it accepted (perhaps because of its New Orleans setting) the premise of a half-caste “creole” Negro and allowed both Black and White suitors to pursue Chloe.

Source(s):  TCM; DAARAC.org; Cinema Civil Rights: Regulation, Repression, and Race in the Classical Hollywood Era.

Movie:

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.