Saturday, February 25, 2006

I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

Back in the day, zombies weren't out-and-about, freely chomping on the living, munching on brains, begetting other zombies. They were, well, just dead people who wandered around, looking creepy, because they were dead. In this particular case, a nurse sent to the West Indies to care for a rich man's invalid wife ends up falling for the guy, despite the escapades of his drunk half-brother, not to mention their wicked mother, or the voodoo freaks all around, etcetera. How can our heroes find time for love with all these zombies underfoot? Great atmosphere was Val Lewton's hallmark; the eerie path through the sugarcane field that the women must take to get to the houngan is a high point. Years later, ethnobotanist Wade Davis would document exactly the kind of voodoun society depicted here in The Serpent & the Rainbow -- which in turn Wes Craven would use as inspiration for a zombie B-movie of his own. Reincarnation, anyone?

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