I Walked With a Zombie
(Jacques Tourneur, 1943)
One of the seminal zombie-related films, this one travels to the West Indies to discover its voodoo origins.
I found the whole thing pretty sluggish, and not nearly as engaging as Cat People, the first Val Lewton/Jacques Tourneur horror film. There are some spooky sequences but nothing here that grips you and messes with your head like people transforming into murderous cats. Me-ow.
Modern viewers may also find it distracting the way the love story seems to trump the zombie thread for much of the picture. Apparently it also borrows heavily from Jane Eyre. Color me clueless as I’m not a Brontë connoisseur, but it at least explains why so much time is made of the burgeoning romance between the hired nurse (Frances Dee) and her employer (Tom Conway), whose wife has fallen into a state of perpetual sleepwalking. Not unlike a zombie. Ahem.
That said, there’s a definite growing creepiness about the whole picture, enhanced by the Carribean setting, and builds to a satisfying ending.
And not to pile on, but there’s not a single “Braaaaaains!” uttered throughout. How disappointing.