Tuesday, October 04, 2011

31 Days of Halloween - Day 4 - Movie 2

In The Walking Dead (1936) Boris Karloff plays John Ellman a man sentenced and executed for a murder he didn't commit. When two lab assistants who witnessed the crime come forward at the last minute to save him, they are too late, but the scientist they are working for, out of a sense of duty and scientific curiosity sends for the body and manages to bring Ellman back to life. Ellman seems to remember nothing about his life before his execution, nor what happened after he died, but somehow he knows the identity of the group of men who carried out the murder and framed him for it. He appears before each of them and the force of his gaze drives them into accidental suicides.

The Walking Dead is elevated above being simply a by the numbers wrongly executed and then resurrected man out for revenge movie by Karloff's convincing and sympathetic performance as a wrongly convicted man in the first half and as his not quite brought all the way back from the dead persona in the second. The movie also tries to elevate itself in the script by having the scientist (Edmund Gwenn) determined to learn the secrets of what happens after death from Ellman. Unfortunately, the true bad guys and the young couple who witnessed the crime are mere sketches of characters.

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