Made in 1936, Michael Curtiz’ The Walking Dead mashes a Frankenstein theme — with Boris Karloff along to sell it — and a gritty Warner Brothers’ hardboiled crime story.
Karloff is framed for murder and gets the chair. Scientist Edmund Gwenn, using among other things a real “Lindbergh Heart Pump”, resurrects the wrongfully executed man, exclaiming “He’s alive!” when Karloff stirs.
No heavy makeup needed here: Karloff wears a shock of electrified white hair and that unmistakable, heavy-lidded, deadpan stare that always says “back from the grave”.
This walking dead man doesn’t actually kill anyone. Just showing up scares the bad guys into fatal accidents, like backing out of a high window. In a unique twist, this character is not a zombie bent on revenge as much as an avenging angel who’s mere appearance serves divine justice.
There’s a good review of the film at 100misspenthours.com.
The scrumptious poster is from the collection of Jean-Claude Michel.