Saturday, 17 December 2011

Walkers, Walkers everywhere 3 - I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

Released during the very real horrors of World War II this was the second horror film from producer, Val Lewton, the first being the iconic Cat People, and if you think Seth Graham Smith was the first to mix zombies and the classics with Pride and Prejudice with Zombies then think again. Lewton adjusted the original script to be a loose adaptation of Jane Eyre. Lewton borrowed the story, which is set in a plantation, from Charlotte Bronte’s novel, Jane Eyre, but set in it on the island of St. Sebastian. Betsy Connell (Frances Dee), an innocent and pure Canadian nurse, accepts a position on the troubled Holland family plantation and in the best creaky old horror film fashion all is not what it seems.

Ignore the cheesey title which makes it sound like a film along the lines of, I was a Teenage Werewolf because I Walked is, like Cat People before it, a cut above most of RKO’s horror content. It went unappreciated by the critics of the day with the New York Times calling it dull and disgusting, but over the years it has rightly attained classic status and is these days regarded as one of Lewton’s best films, if not superior to The Cat People it is at least its equal. The voodoo element of the film is cleverly understated and it is not clear to the viewer if Jessica Holland, wife of the plantation owner, is actually under a supernatural spell or the victim of some strange tropical illness. Modern viewers may find it slow but it is one of the best pre-Romero zombie movies. There’s also a great joke when the disclaimer in the opening credits about the characters and events presented in the film denies any similarity to “actual persons, living, dead or possessed”.

Well worth seeking out.

Want an all new zombie fix -

The Dead Walked by Vincent Stark

Some said it was a virus
Others called it an act of God
Either way the result was the same when the dead walked

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