Anniversary Post: I Walked with a Zombie

I Walked With a Zombie

On this day, 30 April, in 1943, I Walked With a Zombie was released to the world. It’s one of those great gothic horror films when Hollywood wasn’t quite sure if they weren’t romances.

It tells the story of Betsy, a nurse that moves to the Caribbean where she is to care for a woman suffers from a vague spinal injury that makes her sleepwalk through life. But shockingly it turns out she is really a zombie!

Why It’s Great

Actually, the story doesn’t much matter. The film sets a dark mood and the character interactions are excellent. Jacques Tourneur made it shortly after Cat People, and the film has much in common with it.

It is amazing to see how much is done on a limited budget. Almost everything is shot on small, cheap sets. But with a combination of beautiful shots, clever blocking, and effective camera work along with excellent acting, it never seems limited.

I Walked With a Zombie also clocks in just under 70 minutes. I’ve come to believe that this is the perfect length for a feature film. It allows the stories to be told briskly without pointless complications of an over-long second act.

It also allows you to watch two films a night!

Is It Psychotronic?

I love this film. But whenever I see one like this I question whether we ought to consider it psychotronic. It is true that it is low budget, but it is a Hollywood B-picture. Everyone involved in it is a professional. There’s nothing lurid about it. And it most definitely isn’t going after the teen audience.

The one way that it is psychotronic is that it’s old. And almost any film after a certain point becomes relegated to viewing specialists. And I Walked With a Zombie definitely deserves to be discussed here because that’s ultimately what this site is about: trying to get people to watch films that we like.

I Walked With a Zombie poster by William Rose is in the public domain.

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