I Walked With a Zombie (1943)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Supernatural Horror  |   Release Date - Apr 21, 1943 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 69 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Though the earlier Universal horror films of James Whale (Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein) and Tod Browning (Dracula, Freaks) are better-known, RKO's smaller-budgeted horror pictures produced by Val Lewton, including I Walked With a Zombie, have had perhaps a more lasting influence on American cinema. Relying on moody psychological terror rather than special effects, Zombie and its precursor, Cat People, are purely cinematic in building suspense through atmosphere. With these two films, director Jacques Tourneur proved himself most capable of bringing Lewton's vision to the screen. While Cat People is revered more than any other Lewton film, Zombie, despite its garish title, is every bit as mesmerizing. Essentially the story of Jane Eyre with some voodoo thrown in, the film has a remarkably rich, evocative visual style. Lewton would spend a few more successful years making horror films at RKO before breaking away to try his hand (mostly unsuccessfully) at more romantic mainstream movies.