Friday, February 18, 2011

I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

Francis Dee is hot nurse Betsy Connell. She's been hired to take care of the wife of a sugar plantation owner in the Caribbean. Seems the brain of said wife was burnt out by fever. Brains ....

Morose Husband Paul lives with flippant half brother Wesley and their mum. Wife's condition is strange and frightening, husband's demeanor is dark and brooding, while half-brother is drunk and disorderly. Slowly we piece together the family story. Did the good husband do this to her? Was it black magic? What secret is good-for-nothing Wesley hiding? And how come mum isn't around that much?

Well, Betsy falls for Paul and decides she will cure his wife for him. Not sure how that's going to help. But how can she do this when the doctor says it's hopeless? Well, hear them drum beats? The natives, they have BETTER doctors! No harm in bringing a comatose patient for a look-see.

Through this movie I came to the conclusion that my wife would actually like it. It was beautifully shot. Great sets and costumes. Good dialog. Very well made. Then I learned WHY my wife would like it. Apparently the director didn't like the story, so he adapted it to Jane Eyre. Sadly, the movie was returned before she could see it, not that she was all that willing to give it a try.

I can't emphasize enough how well this movie was made. No low budget quickie-sickie here. Darby Jones was creepy as a zombie-like person. The acting was top-notch and it had great atmosphere. The complexity of the story is most striking. Not horror is the conservative sense. Sure, elements of the supernatural abound, but it's all implied. It more than stands up to a second viewing. AMRU 4.5.

"Everything seems beautiful because you don't understand. Those flying fish, they're not leaping for joy, they're jumping in terror. Bigger fish want to eat them. That luminous water, it takes it's gleam from millions of tiny dead bodies. The glitter of putrescence. There is no beauty here, only death and decay."


  1. An understated classic that's only now getting its due, thanks to the DVD release just a few years ago.

  2. I knew it by reputation but it still surprised me. I watched it on my small set and look forward to seeing it on my good one.