For Halloween, a trick-or-treat bag of deceptively complicated themes: the idea of ugly history (personal and otherwise) as a zombie that's no longer living but not yet dead; and the idea of white colonists succumbing to the culture they try to colonize. It's not the perfectly stacked triumph of Cat People, but it's Lewton's second best, and a sign of how much he wanted to ponder, even if not in an organized way.
Going through his filmography just reminds me of the number of great films that Jacques Tourneur made. Only Out of the Past outshines this classic horror thriller. The atmosphere and photography make everything eerie. A wonderful flim and my favorite produced by Val Lewton.
Six decades before "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," there was this retelling of "Jane Eyre" featuring - you guessed it - zombies. Val Lewton was a shrewd producer who took lurid, sensational titles and turned them into often thoughtful films with great emotional depth, and this love story laced with voodoo is atmospheric and compelling.
Tourneur's low-key, dream-like atmosphere is punctuated by suggestion and inference rather than gore, and whatever else you'd expect from a movie with the word "zombie" in the title. Creepy, distant noises accompany eerie settings in a film which is arguably much less about horror than it is about the difficulties of breaking the barriers between lovers and family. An eccentric approach, and the result is brilliant.
Equal parts beautiful and classy, and underwhelming and dull. While elegant, with the photography capturing a great sense of atmosphere, and the dialogue being oh-so eloquent, it only emotes on a basic level. I often wanted to like this more, but I find it rather bland and tepid in engagement. Even as a pure melodramatic drama, with rather downplayed interaction, it should be more elevated in its dramatic tension.
The atmosphere achieved by Lewton and Tourneur on a small budget is so poetic you might think that Cocteau was sitting in on the planning meetings.
Edith Barrett was the first Mrs. Vincent Price, by the way. She gives a sensitive performance.