I Walked with a Zombie  (1943)

Octoblur 2015 - #32: I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

 
By dorrk, October 27th 2015
Octoblur: If the quality doesn't scare you the quantity will.

For years I've read and heard effusive recommendations for the classic horror movies of short-lived producer Val Lewton, but dismissed them as nostalgia. Recently, looking for old horror movies I can watch with my children, I've finally given a few of them a chance. Like both wonderful Cat People films, I Walked with a Zombie is extremely engaging and a fantastic looking success in atmosphere, even if the thrills it delivers are fairly tame.

Frances Dee stars as a nurse hired by a wealthy sugar planter (Tom Conway) to take care of his ailing wife. Expecting to find an island paradise, she instead discovers that her exotic new home is in the grip of both sadness and mystery, resulting from the horrible legacy of slavery and the voodoo religion practiced by the descendants of its victims. Not only is the island is full of stories about strife within the prominent family that employs her, her patient appears to be stricken with an illness not altogether natural.

Directed by Jacques Tourneur — who had just finished Cat People for Lewton — I Walked with a Zombie is gorgeously filmed horror noir with surprisingly detailed and neatly spooky treatment of voodoo. the ritual sequences are darker than I expected, and the script is full of quality lore that would have been homogenized by lesser filmmakers but adds a valuable richness. While the movie doesn't pack much of a punch at the end — the main character's journey is sidelined to fizzle lamely without any climax — I Walked with a Zombie nonetheless earns it status as one of the more striking studio horror movies of the 1940s.

Great lesser-known horror movies

Fun, weird & dark corners worth exploring.
A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)

A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)

Demon Seed (1977)

Demon Seed (1977)

The Exorcism Of Emily Rose (2005)

The Exorcism Of Emily Rose (2005)

Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981)

Friday The 13th Part 2 (1981)

The Funhouse (1981)

The Funhouse (1981)

The Guest (2014)

The Guest (2014)

The House Of The Devil (2009)

The House Of The Devil (2009)

Housebound (2014)

Housebound (2014)

The Johnsons (1992)

The Johnsons (1992)

Kill List (2011)

Kill List (2011)

Little Otik (2001)

Little Otik (2001)

Motel Hell (1980)

Motel Hell (1980)

Orphan (2009)

Orphan (2009)

Seed Of Chucky (2004)

Seed Of Chucky (2004)

Silent Night Deadly Night (1984)

Silent Night Deadly Night (1984)

Spider Baby... (1968)

Spider Baby... (1968)

Starry Eyes (2014)

Starry Eyes (2014)

The Stepfather (1987)

The Stepfather (1987)

Suicide Club (2001)

Suicide Club (2001)

A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)

A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)

Dorrk's Top 20 horror movies

The boring list of horror essentials. If you haven't seen these yet, what are you doing?
The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist (1973)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

The Shining (1980)

The Shining (1980)

Jaws (1975)

Jaws (1975)

The Thing (1982)

The Thing (1982)

The Fly (1986)

The Fly (1986)

An American Werewolf In London (1981)

An American Werewolf In London (1981)

Psycho (1960)

Psycho (1960)

Poltergeist (1982)

Poltergeist (1982)

Alien (1979)

Alien (1979)

The Omen (1976)

The Omen (1976)

Rosemarys Baby (1968)

Rosemarys Baby (1968)

Halloween (1978)

Halloween (1978)

Nosferatu (1922)

Nosferatu (1922)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (1986)

Frankenstein (1931)

Frankenstein (1931)

The Return Of The Living Dead (1985)

The Return Of The Living Dead (1985)

Suicide Club (2001)

Suicide Club (2001)

Repulsion (1965)

Repulsion (1965)

Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)

Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)

Trailer for I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

Beware: Galleries may contain spoilers.
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