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I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

Approved  |   |  Horror  |  30 April 1943 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 6,914 users  
Reviews: 82 user | 74 critic

A young Canadian nurse (Betsy) comes to the West Indies to care for Jessica, the wife of a plantation manager (Paul Holland). Jessica seems to be suffering from a kind of mental paralysis ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Title: I Walked with a Zombie (1943)

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Complete credited cast:
James Ellison ...
Frances Dee ...
Tom Conway ...
Edith Barrett ...
James Bell ...
Christine Gordon ...
Jessica Holland
Theresa Harris ...
Alma - Maid (as Teresa Harris)
Sir Lancelot ...
Calypso Singer
Darby Jones ...
Jeni Le Gon ...
Dancer (as Jeni LeGon)


A young Canadian nurse (Betsy) comes to the West Indies to care for Jessica, the wife of a plantation manager (Paul Holland). Jessica seems to be suffering from a kind of mental paralysis as a result of fever. When she falls in love with Paul, Betsy determines to cure Jessica even if she needs to use a voodoo ceremony, to give Paul what she thinks he wants. Written by Ken Yousten <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


See this strange, strange story of a woman whose lure set brother against brother; whose love caused hate - and whose beauty bowed to the will of an evil spell in whose power we must refuse to believe - EVEN IF IT'S TRUE! See more »




Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

30 April 1943 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Morta-Viva  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The two figures seen walking along the beach during the opening credits are Frances Dee and Darby Jones. See more »


Betsy Connell: [Noticing Alma having difficulty trying to lead a stubborn horse] Alma, try it this way... Turn your back on him. You see, that's the way it is with a horse: you can't lead him and look at him at the same time.
Alma - Maid: [Chuckles] Sounds sorta' man-like, don't it?
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the beginning, in small letters at the bottom of the screen is this disclaimer: The characters and events depicted in this photoplay are fictional. Any similarity to any persons, living, dead, OR POSSESSED, is entirely coincidental. See more »


Referenced in Zombies: The Truth (2010) See more »


Fort Holland Calypso Song
Music and Lyrics by Sir Lancelot
Played on guitar and sung by Sir Lancelot
See more »

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User Reviews

There's no beauty only decay, everything dies here even the stars
7 November 2004 | by (Brooklyn NY USA) – See all my reviews

***SPOILERS*** Undoubtedly the most atmospheric of the Lawton/Tourneur film collaborations "I Walked with a Zombie" is completely told in flashback by nurse Betsy Connell, Frances Dee. Who was sent from the cold weather of Ottawa Canada's Memorial Hospital to the warm Caribbean tropical breezes of the Island of St. Sebastian in the West Indies to care for Paul Holland's, Tom Conway, comatose wife Jessica.

A rehash of the Charlotte Bronte classic "Jean Eyre" the movie is also about the supernatural and unknown in the form of the Island's natives strange belief in Voodoo. Were also shown in the movie how it can effect a person thats put under it's spell by making them become a walking dead, a Zombie.

Betsy with the help of Dr. Maxwell, James Bell, can find no reason for Jessica's abnormal condition and thinks that she's the victim of some unknown tropical disease with no cure for it. But as the story goes on Betsy Paul and Dr. Maxwell as well as Paul's step-brother Wesley, James Ellison, begin to realize that what struck Jessica is something beyond the understanding of modern science or medicine. We learn the truth about Jessica, and what struck her and who was responsible for it, from non other then Mrs. Rand, Edith Barrett, Paul and Wesley's mother. Who's also a doctor, mostly for the natives, on the Island of St. Sebastian.

The movie has what's become a trademark in Lawton/Tourneur movies with it's use by director Tourneur of light and sound as well as the audience imagination to build up the tension. The tension reaches a point where it almost becomes unbearable to those watching without having a stiff drink to settle them down. The scene with Betsy and Jessica walking through the dark sugar cane field is a good example of how Tourneur can scare the hell out of you without any special effects like the way it's done in horror movies by todays movie makers.

In the quite and eerie moonlight the two women walk through the dark and spooky cane fields running into a host of bloodcurdling Voodoo artifacts. Then when reaching the outskirts of Islands Homefort where Betsy want to get Jessica help from the local Voodoo priestess, guess who she is, and runs into seven-foot tall Carre-Four, Darby Jones, standing guard. The sight of the creepy and giant Carre-Four scares the living hell out of Betsy as well as those of us in the audience watching. But that's as far as he's made to go by the movies director just to stand there, but the effect is absolutely heart-stopping.

Betsy falls in love with Paul but at the same time wants to restore Paul's wife Jessica back to health and thus lose him. Paul who also fell in love with Betsy want's her to leave the Island to prevent that from happening. But at the end of the movie it becomes evident that Jessica is not alive but a Zombie and it was Mrs. Rand who hid this from everyone to keep the truth from coming out. Mrs. Rand in a way held herself responsible for Jessica's illness since she was deeply involved with the Island natives who's spell put Jessica in that condition.

Were also told that Jessica was not exactly the sweet and kind person that Nurse Betsy was told that she was by Paul. I was Jessica that wanted to destroy the Holland family, as well as their sugar company on the Island, by having an affair with Paul's step-brother Wesley. This all lead to the casting of a deadly Voodoo spell on her by the local natives which turned her into a card carrying member of the walking dead.

Tragically in the end Wesley, who realized that his affair with Jessica lead to all this, together with the doomed and already dead Jessica end up under the waves of the Caribbean Sea. The movie does such a good job of exploring and explaining Voodoo and Zombies that it almost makes you believe, like it does Paul Wesley Betsy Dr. Maxwell and Mrs. Rand, in it.

Don't expect "I Waked with a Zombie" to be a horror movie. It's a far more gripping and perceptive film about the unknown that's all around us that were just too blind to see and believe. Until it's jolting effects hits us, like it did to those in the movie, right between the eyes.

23 of 30 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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