Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Walked With A Zombie (1943)

A nurse is assigned to the wife of a rich sugar planter in the West Indies, a woman who has lost all personal will and consciousness as a result of permanent damage brought on by a tropical fever. The nurse is thrust into a lover's quarrel between the plantation owner and his brother as she attempts to cure the emotionless "zombie" before finally turning to a voodoo priest as a last chance at revival. Tourneur demonstrates masterful visual storytelling throughout the film, using stark contrasts, fluid camera movements, and graphic metaphors to decorate the already engaging plot. The cold, empty, but beautiful plantation house reflects the lifeless walking corpse of Mrs. Holland in just one of many visual clues left through the film. Unlike the typically insulting voodoo ceremonies included in other films of the time, Tourneur offers a respectful and artful representation of voodoo ritualism in a beautifully shot sequence where the servants put Mrs. Holland through a series of trials to see if she is one of the undead. Christine Gordon's deathly white complexion and flowing garbs give her a ghost-like and otherworldly appearance that maintains an eerie mood. Many of the more suspenseful scenes are devoid of any score, which makes them all the more frightening in the overpowering silence broken only by the rustling wind. I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE is not a typical Horror movie, focusing much more on the character interactions and love triangles than the scares, but it is an excellent Gothic Horror entry outside of the typical Universal monster films of the 1940s.

Rating: 9/10.
Number of views: 1.



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8 comments:

  1. This is a fine movie that gets far too little attention from fans of classic horror films if you ask me. (BTW, "Zombies on Broadway" is an amusing film to watch in close poximity to when viewing "I walked with a Zombie." ZoB isn't a great movie, but it's a cute spoof.)

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  2. Have seen this one several times, and like it, a lot. At first, you think it is one of the run-of-the-mill horror flicks of that era, but it is a great movie all on its own.

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  3. Glad to see some love for this film gentlemen, I cant claim to be completely knowledgeable of the classics, and I am always intimidated rating them as such since it is hard to compare them to the other films of the time when I have only seen a select few, but good filmmaking is good filmmaking so this was a clear winner. Plus there were no friggin gorillas in this one like in so many other 30s and 40s flicks

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  4. No gorillias! How did that happen? :D I have not seen this one. Thanks for the great review, off to Amazon to find a copy!

    Cheers!

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  5. I LOVE this film. Are you going to check out some other Lewton produced films, Carl? The stuff he produced in the forties was, like you said, so different from most other stuff at the time. And I think his movies with Jacques Tourneur were particularly amazing.

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  6. I will have a review up for BODY SNATCHER from last night, but unfortunately the only other film I have lined up will be BEDLAM, still need to get my hands on the CAT PEOPLE disc

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  7. Carl: You just made me realize there's a blog tag I've not been applying... Gorrila Suit!

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  8. lol most excellent, well I'm sure there will be ample time to make up for that the next time you dust off one of the many adaptations of THE GORILLA or MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE!

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