‘Who said the dead don’t walk!’
The RKO Pictures production stars Frances Dee, Tom Conway and James Ellison.
A young Canadian nurse (Betsy) goes to the West Indies to care for Jessica, the wife of a plantation manager (Paul Holland). Jessica seems to be suffering from a kind of mental paralysis as a result of fever. When she falls in love with Paul, Betsy determines to cure Jessica even if she needs to use a voodoo ceremony, to give Paul what she thinks he wants…
Val Lewton did not like the article “I Walked With A Zombie” by Inez Wallace that had been optioned so he adapted the story to fit around Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre because he felt the article’s plot was too clichéd.
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“Anyone interested in exploring historical horror films would find a good starting point in I Walked With a Zombie. It’s never boring, has a surprisingly modern outlook, and a few scenes, particularly the late night walk to the houmfort, are effectively creepy even today. The voodoo music as well is memorable and hypnotic and completely the uniquely poetic tropical gothic atmosphere of the film.” Bloody Good Horror
” …one of Lewton’s finest works and one of the most effective horror films of the 1930s. Despite its lurid title—which was assigned by the studio, as with Lewton’s other RKO films—it is an ethereal, even poetic film that relies largely on atmosphere and artistry for its horror effects. Its purported subject matter may be zombies, but it uses them to tell a story about the intersections between passion, corruption, and redemption.” DVD Verdict
“The central belief/doubt ambiguity of the film hovers around the question of whether Jessica is suffering from tropical fever or has been affected by voodoo. The film sits just between rationalism and superstition – its duality plays on the conflict between Western Christendom and Caribbean culture, and between medicine and magic.” Moria