Sunday, May 27, 2012

161. I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

Running Time: 69 minutes
Directed By: Jacques Tourneur
Written By: Inez Wallace, Curt Siodmak
Main Cast: Tom Conway, Frances Dee, James Ellison, Edith Barrett, Christine Gordon
Click here to view the trailer


I've been dreading the final two, Val Lewton produced movies, ever since I watched "Cat People" a couple of Halloween's ago and hated it. Last night I proved that my dread was, indeed warranted.

The film is only sixty-nine minutes, so at least it's a "right off like a band-aid" type of agony and not something more severe. Betsy Connell (Dee) is a nurse, hired to go to the West Indies and care for the wife of wealthy plantation owner, Paul Holland (Conway). Upon boarding the ship that is to take her to the West Indies, Betsy can't decide whether she likes Holland or whether she's leery of him. She claims he has a dreadful outlook on life, yet there's something clean and honest about him, at the same time. When she arrives at the estate, she meets Paul's brother, Wesley (Ellison), a seemingly kinder man than his brother. Later, Betsy meets Jessica (Gordon), Paul's wife and discovers that Jessica lives in a catatonic-like state, almost like a zombie. Betsy tries to do her best for Jessica, even going so far as to recommend shock therapy, but nothing will bring Jessica out of her haze. As a last resort, Betsy turns to the voodoo doctors of the island, in hopes that their alternative means of curing patients can help Jessica. There's also a whole big subplot about a feud between the brothers, but it's nothing that I need to go into detail about here.


This film really wasn't sure what genre it fit into. You really can't classify it as horror, not only because it isn't the least bit spooky, but also because it subscribes to it's own theories. Never are the voodoo doctors or the "alternative medicine" made fun of or written off as superstition, but rather, they're always believed in. Shouldn't every horror film have that one character who says, "Oh Michael Myers? That's just an old wives tale!" or "Freddy Krueger? He's hasn't come back to life sporting an ugly sweater and claws! You're nuts!" or "Voodoo and witch doctors? Nah, that stuff doesn't really work!". Nevermind the genre though, the story here is just lame and dull. A nurse travels to the West Indies to help a patient, falls in love with her husband, takes her on a walk through a cornfield at night, so that a group of Voodoo doctors can accuse her of being a witch and in the end she dies anyway. The End! It sounds dull and boring and guess what folks? It is!

I guess there is an audience for these kinds of movies though. These "so bad they're good" horror movies that certain film fans like to indulge in. I've never understood the whole "so bad they're good" outlook, but that's just me.

RATING: 1/10  I, at least, gave "Cat People" a '2', so this one even surpasses that hot mess, on the garbage scale. I bet Orson Welles hated this movie too - just a hunch. Also, I'll be reviewing "The Seventh Victim" before this 100 is over, so pray for me.


May 27, 2012  5:53pm


  1. He he.. Now this HAD to be you trying to provoke me!
    We both know how much our opinions on Cat people differed.
    I bet as you wrote this you could imagine my response. Although I slightly prefere 'Cat people', there were moments in this that surpassed even that for atmosphere and implied threat and decay.. On the boat where she and Conway first meet.. the moonlight on the sea and the talk about flying fish and phospheresence (I'm sure that isn't how you spell it) Magic.
    No use suggesting you try Leopard man?
    Thought not!

    1. Well, I wasn't necessarily trying to provoke you, although our mild debate over "Cat People" did spring to mind. Although, I didn't mind "The Seventh Victim", if that counts for anything. Let me didn't like "The Seventh Victim" and we're destined to choose opposing sides on the subject of Lewton horror?

  2. I didn't hate this as much as you, but I definitely agree that this was not good. The idea that the nurse would develop romantic feelings toward the stiff plantation owner was totally unbelievable to me. Some of the voodoo scenes were a little creepy, but that's about the only thing I enjoyed. Overall, I'd say it was a good choice for removal in the latest edition.

    1. Agreed that this one getting the ax was fine by me. Glad to know I'm not alone in that opinion.

  3. Oh dear... I've always hoped I may get a supporter for this and cat people...
    But I'm delighted to see someone going through the back catalogue to make comments. Welome William, and I hope to see more from you.


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