Saturday, November 3, 2018

The Walking Dead (1936)

A judge who convicted a gangster is murdered, and a simple ex-con (Boris Karloff) is framed for it. Testimony from two young lab assistance could exonerate him, but they come forward seconds too late. So their scientist-boss (Edmund Gwenn) gets custody of the body (all you need to do is ask, apparently) and brings him back to life. Seems revived Boris knows things that pre-dead Boris didn’t. Santa is anxious to learn how.

This Warner Brothers gangster/horror film was directed by Michael Curtiz who directed a dozen films a year from the early teens until he dropped dead, of exhaustion I presume. Karloff is fantastic as the understated simpleton raised from the dead. Santa was Santa as always.

The studio was clearly banking on the Frankenstein associations. Karloff Frankensteined his way after the gangsters and Gwenn even gave a “He’s Alive” upon his revival. The gothic trappings were not present (well, there is that one graveyard scene) but studios know how to sacrifice originality for ticket sales. But don't judge them too harshly. Karloff was something of a phenomenon at the time and money is money.

All in all, The Walking Dead is a plus horror film. There is a bit more going on than risen-monster-seeks-revenge. There are a few elements at play and Karloff showed some unexpected range. Make no mistake, it's still a B picture, but a well done one. AMRU 3.5.
“The Lord thy God is a jealous God!”

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