Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

I Walked With a Zombie (1943)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

I Walked With a Zombie (1943)

In this acclaimed occult horror film from RKO producer Val Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur, with atmospheric tension and shadowy nighttime scenes:

  • the scene of Canadian nurse Betsy Connell (Frances Dee) on the deck of a schooner bound for the Caribbean island of Saint Sebastian, watching the stars, and looking out on the horizon after seeing flying fish, and sensing beauty: ("I looked at those great glowing stars and I felt the warm wind on my cheeks and I breathed deep and every bit of me inside myself said, 'How beautiful'") - and interrupted by rich yet melancholy sugar plantation owner Paul Holland (Tom Conway) who had read her thoughts: ("It is not beautiful...It's easy enough to read the thoughts of a newcomer. Everything seems beautiful because you don't understand. Those flying fish, they are not leaping for joy. They're jumping in terror. Bigger fish want to eat them. That luminous water, it takes its gleam from millions of tiny dead bodies. It's the glitter of putrescence. There's no beauty here, only death and decay...Everything good dies here, even the stars")
  • Betsy's strangely-afflicted patient, guilt-ridden Paul Holland's matriarchal wife Jessica (Christine Gordon), who exhibited symptoms of inactivity and an inability to speak (was she a zombie?), and the mystery about the cause of her condition (possibly because of Paul's retribution against Jessica for her adulterous affair with Paul's younger half-brother and employee, Wesley Rand (James Ellison))
  • the scene of Betsy's belief and action to cure the "living dead" Jessica with a shot of insulin, but the shock treatment failed; she learned from Jessica's native maid Alma (Theresa Harris) that a local voodoo priest cured a woman with her condition; Alma drew her a map to the "Home Fort" (Hounfour) where a local voodoo ceremony would take place
  • the unsettling nighttime scene of Betsy's haunting walk with her patient Jessica (without permission) through tall sugar cane fields (adorned with several talismans, including a skull and hanging goat carcass) to a local voodoo ceremony, superbly photographed with tracking shots
  • the abrupt appearance in the darkness of a huge, eerie, bug-eyed and towering zombie-like guard or gatekeeper Carre Four (Darby Jones) - a memorable image
  • the shocking revelation that the voodoo priest in the ceremony was none other than Mrs. Rand (Edith Barrett), a doctor, and the mother of Paul and Wesley; when Mrs. Rand had discovered that her sons had fought over Jessica, Paul's wife, and threatened to break up the family, she had put a zombie curse or spell on her to zombify her
Jessica's Doll Effigy Stabbed
Jessica Stabbed by Wesley
At Water's Edge - Carre-Four with Jessica and Wesley
Wesley's and Jessica's Deaths
  • the final sequence of the deaths of Wesley and Jessica, when he thrust an iron arrow into Jessica's body to kill her (at the same time a voodoo doll effigy of Jessica was pierced by a voodoo master), and then suicidally walked her body into the ocean as the Zombie Guard Carre-Four looked on

Canadian Nurse Betsy Connell On Ship's Deck

Haunting Walk Through Cane Fields to Voodoo Ceremony

Shocking View of Zombie Guard Carre-Four (Darby Jones)

Mrs. Rand Revealing Herself and Her Motives at Voodoo Ceremony


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