I Walked with a Zombie (1943)
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Slow, but very atmospheric. The compositions of light and shadow are weirdly beautiful, and the short length feels just right. The walk through the cane field where Jessica's white dress streams out behind her in the wind is a particular standout.
I Walked With a Zombie. What a great title. What dies Val Lewton do with it? Well, we're a far cry from the zombie apocalypse genre, returning instead to the legend's roots - in voodoo. We follow a Canadian nurse to the Caribbean where she's meant to take care of a catatonic woman... or is there more to it than that? The ambiguities mount as she gets interested in the rituals of the island people, and wonders if they could help her patient. All the while, everyone she meets is holding back secrets, which just adds to the feeling of unease already supplied by the moody cinematography and what looks like well-researched voodoo lore (but I have no clear idea - it just looks authentic). Another RKO triumph, doing a lot with little means, and creating a world that's an interesting blend we might call Tropical Gothic.
This came as a surprise to me. Liked it more than Cat People. Are there any other notable Voodoo/West Indies films (stupid horror films excluded)?
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This movie ranks #64 in A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies
This movie ranks #64 in They Shoot Zombies, Don't They?
This movie ranks #161 in The British Film Institute: 360 Classics
This movie ranks #223 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Films
This movie ranks #276 in Have You Seen? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films
This movie ranks #328 in 500 Essential Cult Movies
This movie ranks #431 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #603 in They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?