Cast & Crew
J. Augustus Smith
Thomas Catt, the proprietor of a "jook," a Southern cabaret-brothel, desires young, virginal Myrtle Simpson, the niece of preacher Amos Berry and the 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 tormenter.
J. Augustus Smith
A. B. Comathiere
This film is presumed lost. Please check your attic.
The working titles of this film were Louisiana and Voodoo. Hollywood Reporter reviewed the picture as Louisiana. New York State Censor Board records from 1934 indicate that the film was retitled The Devil. In 1981, the film was found by historian-producer Alex Gordon. According to a press release for the re-issue, the picture was also known as She Devil during its initial run. Modern sources list the title as Voodoo Devil Drums and Voodoo Drums. 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. Hollywood Reporter commented that the play was "transferred to screen from stage intact, including the painted scenery, the long speeches and the stage technique." The Variety review adds the following description: "There are snatches of jungle worship dancing, but all clean. Only spicy shot is a girl's snakehips dance in a brief brothel scene. The voodooists' tom-toms beat a monotone through the picture, a la Emperor Jones....Typical antics of his [the preacher's] fanantical congregation add to the effectiveness. White audiences have seen samples of the same thing through the newsreels and travelogs." Sources disagree on the producer credit. One review credits Robert Mintz as producer, while others credit Louis Weiss. New York State Censor Board records indicate that substantial footage was cut from the film before the Board approved it for distribution.
Modern sources note that by using the original cast, costumes, script and authentic spirituals and voodoo music, the budget was kept to a minimum. Modern sources list Ben Berk as production manager and Sam Corso as art director. 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). Drums O'Voodoo is unrelated to the short film entitled Voodoo. The later film was produced in 1933 by Principal Pictures.