December 20, 2010

I Walked with a Zombie (Zombie Classic)

On the eight day of zombie, my true love gave to me.....

     8 walkers walking
                   7 creeps a-creeping
                   6 cricket bats a-swinging
                   5 voodoo slaves.
                   4 green syringes,
                   3 eye gougings,
                   2-4-5 Trioxin,
                   and a Sumatran rat-monkey.


Director: Jacques Tourneur
Writers: Inez Wallace, Curt Siodmak, and Ardel Wray
Stars: James Ellison, Frances Dee, and Tom Conway

SYNOPSIS: A Canadian nurse (Frances Dee) named Betsy travels to a Caribbean sugar plantation to care for Jessica, an ill and catatonic woman with strange sleepwalking behaviour. Jessica's husband Paul (Tom Conway) believes he is the cause of his wife's condition, but his half-brother Wesley (James Ellison) also seems to share an unspoken guilt. Or perhaps Jessica has been turned into a zombie. Deep in the jungle, after all, the voodoo drums do beat.


Paul Holland: It's easy enough to read the thoughts of a newcomer. 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 its gleam from millions of tiny dead bodies. The glitter of putrescence. There is no beauty here, only death and decay.
Betsy Connell: You can't really believe that.
Paul Holland: Everything good dies here. Even the stars.

BEST SCENE: Guided by a zombie, Betsy makes a harrowing nighttime journey through a corn field to see a voodoo magician.

CLASSIC STATUS: As much as I love zombie films, I can admit that they're not what one would call classy. Produced by Val Lewton, however, I Walked With a Zombie is a classy film where zombies only play a small yet integral part in a tale of romance and supernatural mystery. Val Lewton, his writers, and his directors turned out a number of classic films for RKO, but I Walked with a Zombie is one of their greatest achievements in telling tales of suspense with nuanced acting and beautifully composed contrasts of light and dark. It's a subtle film. It's an ambiguous film. But for fans of fillms that strive to be more than cheap, tawdry, and disgusting, I Walked with a Zombie is a classic film.