Val Lewton Traffics in Dead Bodies! And You'll Want to Watc
Michael R Gates | Nampa, ID United States | 10/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A wonderful double-feature DVD featuring two greats from legendary genre producer Val Lewton.
I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943)
Purportedly based on Charlotte Bronte's novel JANE EYRE, this typically low-key Lewton chiller stars pretty Frances Dee as a Canadian nurse assigned to care for the semi-comatose wife of a plantation owner. Not really a horror film--but fascinating nonetheless--this one's a gloomy yet well-acted melodrama that uses the voodoo-steeped Caribbean island of San Sebastian as a backdrop. Jacques Tourneur's haunting direction, J. Roy Hunt's rich black-and-white cinematography, and Roy Webb's calypso-inspired score create a very otherworldly atmosphere, and actor Darby Jones' portrayal of an emaciated, bug-eyed island native--who may or may not be a zombie--is disturbingly unforgettable.
THE BODY SNATCHER (1945)
This literate adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson story stars genre great Boris Karloff as a 19th-century grave robber who turns to murder in order to meet the local med school's quota for cadavers to dissect. Karloff delivers what is arguably one of his best performances, and Bela Lugosi does equally well in a less prominent secondary role. The film is also notable for being one of the first genre directorial efforts from Robert Wise, who would later direct such genre classics as THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951), THE HAUNTING (1963), THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN (1971), and STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (1979), as well as some non-genre greats like WEST SIDE STORY (1961) and THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965).
The double-feature disc from Warner offers both movies their original 1.33:1 format, and though neither appears to have received any restoration, the condition of both is pretty good considering their age (THE BODY SNATCHER is in the best shape by comparison). Each flick is paired with its theatrical trailer, and both are accompanied by optional feature-length commentaries. The commentary on THE BODY SNATCHER is from the late director Robert Wise, possibly the last one he worked on prior to his death in September of 2005.
All in all, this disc is well worth the reasonable price of admission and is a must-have for any serious film collector."
Super spooky films - pure classics
Deborah MacGillivray | US & UK | 10/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These are two of Lewton's Classic films, though a wee bit mismatched.
"I Walked with a Zombie" must win the award for the most ridiculous title for a super movie. During a period when screenwriters were on strike they had to keep making movies, so they turned to the classics. In this one they took Jane Eyre and moved it to the tropics and added a sprinkle of Voodoo and came out with a very atmospheric film. Any young film director looking to learn the technique of evocative atmosphere needs to start here. This movie oozes a melancholy ambiance that is more sinister than horror. One my my favourite all time films.
The second, they dusted off and trotted out was a Robert Lewis Stephenson tale about evil-doings in the period of body snatching. A very understated yet menacing Karloff is the sinister body snatcher willing to provide a young doctor the much needed corpses he needs for his medical experiments - even if they are still alive and protesting. It's a very understate film, no sensational acting. Costuming for the period Scotland it's wonderful. Excellent direction from the master Robert Wise.
There are theatrical trailers, it has subtitles in England, French and Spanish (but on the feature films only). Also included are commentary by Film Historians Kim Newman and Steve Jones for Zombie and Steve Haberman for Body Snatcher.
These are two of the very best Lewton films. Not to be missed for the power of each does not lessen with time."
I Walked With a Zombie: Classic gothic romance with creepy o
Joshua Frantic | Detroit, MI | 12/14/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I just purchased this great Val Lewton 2-pack and so far I've watched "I Walked with a Zombie". The following review is on that film only. I'll come back to review "The Body Snatcher" once I've watched that.
Quick synopsis: A nurse is hired to watch over a mental patient on a mysterious island. The patient is in a zombie-like state and the nurse is desperate to cure her. A love triangle ensues between the nurse, the patient's husband, and the husband's half brother. The island natives want the patient to themselves, as they believe she is a real zombie, resulting from voodoo.
The movie has a decent pace, with lots of gothic romance, dark foreshadowing, mystery, and great sets. I enjoyed the movie quite a bit, although the ending seemed anti-climactic for the slow buildup created throughout the film.
The quality of the footage was pretty good. Some slight shaky scenes and small scratches throughout, not bad though. The audio was fantastic. The dvd includes optional subtitles, which is great for catching those few lines you may have missed. It also includes a commentary and a theatrical trailer for the film.
I'd recommend this highly for fans old romance and mysteries. Although it has plenty of creepy scenes, including a fantastic one where the nurse is bringing the patient down to the native's land into a voodoo circle, I wouldn't consider this a straight horror film. It's very enjoyable though, and I'm proud to have it in my collection!"
Zombie/Body Snatcher timeless entertainments
Wes Saylors Jr. | Boone, North Carolina | 08/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Right off the bat I have to admit that there was a moment in 'I Walked With A Zombie' where I found myself on the edge of my seat and biting a ragged chunk from my index fingernail. I would be the first skeptic to say "Yeah, whatever" if someone said that a movie this old could still pack a punch, but 'I Walked With A Zombie' does just that. The story is simple ... city nurse goes to an island where voodoo is the national pastime and finds herself mixing it up with zombies. But when we think of zombies today, we tend to imagine the faster, bloodier, fang-filled versions of more recent movies like 'Shaun of the Dead' and '28 Weeks Later'. Producer Val Lewton's zombies are more classical ... shuffling, bug-eyed undead who relentlessly pursue their victims, even if it takes them days to actually reach them. -- This movie combines excellent production values and intelligent scripting to produce a movie that is as hypnotic and interesting today as it was then. -- And luckily, this set is doubled with 'The Body Snatcher' (arguably, Boris Karloff's greatest role). This movie deals with a doctor and the blackmailing grave robber who provides cadavers for his midnight researches. Karloff comes out of the gate running in this one -- partially chewing the scenery and genuinely giving off creepy vibes. He is all menace in this movie. In a small but excellent turn is Bela Lugosi (like the Kirk/Picard debates, there is argument over who was the king of the horror genre, Lugosi or Karloff. It's Karloff by many many miles, but Lugosi was great, so long as he didn't actually have to carry a picture). Lugosi plays something with stringy hair and an indecipherable accent and he does this very well, even getting some screen time with Karloff, making 'Body Snatcher' a delight for anyone who used to stay up late on Saturday nights, watching whatever black and white offering the local TV stations used to provide. These two films are often used as examples of producer Val Lewton's finest work. Who can argue? These movies still make me jump."