REVIEW: I Walked With A Zombie
One of the other old zombie movies that I have yet to see was I Walked With A Zombie and I also saw that during class in conjunction with White Zombie. Unlike White Zombie or many other zombie movies in general, this film doesn’t really put the zombie in a harsh or threatening light. The plot is simple, a young female doctor is sent to a plantation in the middle of Haiti to help the owner’s sick and comatose wife. During her investigation she realizes that his wife has become a zombie because of some ritual and it’s up to her to try to bring her out of it. Like the films that came out before Night of the Living Dead, the zombies are not causes by an infection or cosmic rays but rather Voodoo.
Again, I can bore you with the details of how this movie revolutionized the way zombie films are looked at and what it means for filmmaking in general, let alone zombie subcultures but I won’t. Instead, I want to give you my impression of the film and why I really enjoyed this film… more than I thought I would.
Right off the bat the female doctor narrates and you can tell that she is going to be our protagonist Funny, since the film doesn’t really have any clear-cut heroes. The plantation owner seems to be very cold and doesn’t care for his wife, his brother is very unstable and alcoholic and the site missionary is so caught up in superstition that she herself was once possessed. So, it’s a breath of fresh air to see a woman (given the time period) be such a strong, empowering and rather smart protagonist. She is the type of character that is willing to go against conventional protocol despite what her superiors tell her, which makes me think that this is pretty close to being a feminist film. Also, there really isn’t a central antagonist either unless you count the Missionary woman.
The film is a very dark movie both in tone and in the style it was shot. Much like White Zombie this film heavily borrows from German Expressionist films and even film noir. There are high contrasts of black and white, which makes the audience feel cold, isolated and cautious. From what I was told, it was filmed on location rather than in a studio or on a sound stage and for that time it was practically unheard of. I Walked With A Zombie is also dark in the sense that it has no resolution and no happy ending. Pardon the comparison but it’s like this: it’s like having your leg hacked off with a meat cleaver, rather than tying the end with a turret the person just leaves it there to bleed and eventually cauterize.
You can also argue that the film makes a point about religion and how Catholicism isn’t all that different from Voodoo in the sense that they both have central ides. Its sort of the same points that Exorcist: The Beginning makes.
When it comes to the old zombie movies I haven’t seen all of them and it’s rather sad considering that I am a huge zombie fanatic. However, of the three that I saw… I Walked With A Zombie is my favorite. The entire atmosphere of the film is dark and spooky rather than just certain aspects. It’s a film that I would love to see again and anyone who loves zombie movies should try to see this. It may be a slow burn movie but it’s worth it.
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