Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Reanimating the Dead

Up and at ’em. Darby Jones
The scenes in I Walked with a Zombie (1943) with that warm, moist wind wafting through the plantation garden seem almost an antidote to the cliché of the howling storms and deformed murderers of other horror movies. This Jacques Tourneur “B” favorite turns the gothic Romanticism of studio classics like Frankenstein and Island of Lost Souls into an island pastorale. It’s a memorable Hollywood voodoo movie because of its transformed vision.

Sunrise in the West Indies
TV zombie drama reached its high point in the horror-comedy hit series The Night Stalker in the 1970s. One of the best episodes was “The Zombie,” which combines a scruffy, crusading reporter, a gangland turf war, and a frightening Haitian corpse that won’t stay put in the cemetery.

Kolchak: “I suppose you’re wondering what I’m doing here.”

Crime Boss: “Hmm.”

Kolchak: Well, I-I-I think, Mr. Possati ...”

Crime Boss: (deliberately, calmly) “Sposatti.”

Kolchak: “Sp-sp-sposatti, of course.”

Crime Boss: “I remember you. Vittorio, this is the guy that crashed my daughter’s wedding, remember? He took all those pictures!”

Thug: (looks at Kolchak) “Yeah, he’s right.”

Kolchak: (wide-eyed) “No, no! Horrible mistake. No, you see, you’re thinking of my brother ... uhh, SIDNEY Kolchak. He writes for a society column.”

Crime Boss: (laughs) “I remember the two-dollar hat, Kolchak. I got a memory like a steel trap. I never forget anything. Ask Victor.”

Thug: “That’s right. Photographic.”

Crime Boss: “Mr. Kolchak, ever been to Mercy General Hospital?”

Kolchak: (wide-eyed) “No, I ... uhh ... never have.”

Crime Boss: “They got a great gastrointestinal man—one of the best in the Midwest.”

Thug: “Vincenze?”

Crime Boss: “Toto Rosetti ... Vittorio, why don’t you make an appointment for Mr. Kolchak with Toto Rosetti, eh?”

Kolchak: “NO!! No-no-no!! Wait, wait!! I can tell you ... I can tell you who’s been knocking your men off! I know! I can give you a NAME.”

Crime Boss: (sotto voce) “What.”

Kolchak: “He’s a Haitian numbers runner by the name of Francois Edmunds.”

Thug: “Why?”

Kolchak: (nervously) “Why? I-I-I don’t know why. How do I know why? Maybe he ... uhhh ... got in Willy Pike’s hair? And Willy Pike sent him through the system and he got knocked off by the Musso brothers? I don’t know ... maybe?”

Crime Boss: “Well, Mr. Kolchak, you’re partially correct. But you see, that guy now lies in St. Lucy’s Cemetery. But it was a very nice try” (rolls up the car window on Kolchak’s nose).

Kolchak: (pushing the window back down) “No-no! See ... that’s where they keep putting him. But ... I’ll bet my life—and I’m not saying that loosely, gentlemen (laughs nervously)—I will bet my life that he is not—there—now!”

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