Updated RankingsExperiment Perilous
Gaslight Goth Noir is the dud I always read it was. The script is a textbook case of how not to build momentum, with a structure that has the lead sitting down to read a two-part flashback. Tourneur finds small moments to create unique imagery, but the characters are all lifeless and I have to blame the cast of 2nd stringers. George Brent, Hedy Lamarr and Paul Lukas can be good, but they need strong actors to play off of. I Walked With a Zombie
(1943)★ ★ ★ - Okay
I've only seen 3 films that attempt to deal realistically with zombies. White Zombie I hated, and The Serpent and The Rainbow was a long time ago, though I liked it a lot. So while I can't compare, this is in line with Serpent. The highlight is definitely the "walk" scene where two women travel through some increasingly ominous terrain towards a voodoo village. The rituals feel very real and respectful to the religion. (I like the earlier line about their religion being as much about faith and belief as Christianity, though the practices of the two couldn't be more different.) I wish there was more of this.
What didn't work for me was the relationship between the new nurse and the people she's hired to work for. It's given no development and I didn't take it seriously when the nurse falls in love with one of the men, though apparently I'm supposed to. Typical of early horror films, Zombie discards logic or any sort of story/character development in order to keep things short, but Tourneur sustains the atmosphere of shadows and dread for most of the film.