What we call horror movies today might actually frighten the people of the 1940s to death, or at least disgust them and send them running from the theater. What they called horror movies are often what we might call light dramas with a touch of the supernatural. I Walked with a Zombie is such a film. Don’t go into this expecting to be chilled down to your bones from the terror of the zombies. First off, this isn’t the flesh-eating sort of George Romero. This is closer to the Weekend at Bernie’s sort of voodoo zombie, only with 100% less wacky hi-jinks. Is it wrong to love those two movies as much as I do? … Probably.
Betsy is a nurse in Canada who takes a job to care for the wife of a sugar plantation owner on the Caribbean island of Saint Sebastian. It’s a tiny island with a small population of whites and the rest the descendants of slaves brought to the island to work the cane fields. The plantation owner’s wife is in a semi-catatonic state. She is awake and responds to simple commands, but appears to have no will of her own. With the island full of voodoo believers, rumor spreads that she might be a zombie.
I Walked with a Zombie is not a great film, but it’s a pretty decent one. It sells the island, the plantation and its community very well. Plus, the soundtrack is catchy. Check out this scene that includes a couple of songs.
The second song appears again shortly in the movie, but here is a version of it done with a band, uninterrupted. Before you listen, however, it should be noted that the lyrics are spoilers, sort of. Later versions of the song by other bands changed the words so that they weren’t so movie specific.
Anyhow, if you get your hands on a copy, it’s just under 70 minutes long, so even if you don’t enjoy it you won’t have wasted much time.