I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

i walked with a zombie poster 1943 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 9/10

Nice looking film, find traditional zombies interesting

Not the best acting

Movie Info

Movie Name:  I Walked with a Zombie

Studio:  RKO Radio Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  March 17, 1943

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

i-walked-with-a-zombie-sugar-cane-field-betsy-jessica-frances-dee-christine-gordon

Hey…I’m totally walking here…with a zombie

Betsy Connell (Frances Dee) has been hired to take care of Mrs. Jessica Holland (Christine Gordon), the wife of a wealthy sugar plantation owner named Paul Holland (Tom Conway).  Travelling to Saint Sebastian in the Caribbean, Betsy finds herself falling for Paul Holland as she searches for an answer to what has happened to his ailing wife…but finds he might have to dive into the voodoo culture of the island where the dead can walk again!

Directed by Jacques Tourneur, I Walked with a Zombie is a Val Lewton black-and-white horror film.  Originally released to poor reviews, the movie now is considered a classic of the genre and often referenced in popular culture.

I had never seen I Walked with a Zombie until this recent viewing but had seen images of the classic zombie Carre-Four.  I expected the storyline along the lines of White Zombie with an evil hogun controlling the zombies for darkness…instead, I found a rather different story that was quite familiar in its own sense.

i-walked-with-a-zombie-voodoo-doll-carre-four-darby-jones

I’m dead and all I get is this crummy doll!

I Walked with a Zombie was essentially planned as an adaptation of Jane Eyre.  In Jane Eyre, Jane is hired as a governess by Edward Rochester who hides his crazed wife in the attic.  The story has ties to this film not only in structure but the idea that his wife was from the Caribbean and in a mystery.  Here you have a woman travelling into this mysterious region and encountering things that Rochester’s wife would have known.  It is a rather interesting comparison.

The other aspect of the story I find different is that these are zombies in the traditional sense.  They are not flesheaters but literally the walking dead tied to the voodoo religion.  It is a rather skewed look at the religion which is much more fleshed out today, but it is interesting to see some of the old stereotypes popping up (flesh eating zombies were of course popularized after Night of the Living Dead).

i-walked-with-a-zombie-ending-ocean-death

Make sure you wait 15 minutes after eating!

The movie does suffer from classic low-budget acting.  None of the actors really excel in the role and since it is almost a period piece, the acting is more in line with something by the Brontes or Jane Austin.  I will say that I do like Darby Jones’ portrayal of the undead thrall Carre-Four.

Visually the movie is ahead of itself.  The film looks great and is shot nicely.  I particularly like the scenes leading up to the voodoo ceremony and the sugar cane fields which are deftly shot and interesting to look at.  Once again there is also some great imagery surrounding Carre-Four and his lost expressionless stare that still seems sad somehow.

I Walked with a Zombie is almost like the first of the genre which is popular today.  If the movie had been called Zombie Jane Eyre, it would stand-up with movies and novels like Abraham Lincoln:  Vampire Hunter and Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies.  Fans of classic horror and even zombie fans who want to see how zombie films started should check out I Walked with a Zombie for some fun and stylish horror.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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