Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         


THE WALKING DEAD. Warner Brothers, 1936. Boris Karloff, Ricardo Cortez, Edmund Gwenn, Marguerite Churchill, Warren Hull, Barton MacLane. Director: Michael Curtiz.

   If you haven’t yet seen The Walking Dead, do so. You’re in for a real treat. But I don’t mean the AMC television show. No, I mean the taut programmer directed by famed Warner Brothers director Michael Curtiz. Starring the legendary Boris Karloff, this proto-noir thriller squeezes in melodrama, social commentary, and suspense in a running time just over an hour long. All that, and some beautifully filmed camera shots at unsettling angles and an economical use of light and shadow to convey meaning.

   The plot isn’t all that inventive. Karloff portrays John Ellman, an ex-con and general all around sad sack, who gets framed for the murder of the judge who put him in the slammer in the first place. Making matters even worse for the music-loving and piano-playing Ellman is the fact that his serpentine lawyer (Ricardo Cortez) is in bed with the very racketeers who framed him. Ellman’s sentenced to the chair and despite some last minute attempts to stay the execution, gets put to death.

   Or does he? Enter the bespectacled foreign scientist, one Dr. Beaumont (Edmund Gwenn) who brings – you guessed it – Ellman back to life.

   Although he’s alive again, there’s something just not quite right about Ellman. Maybe he is beholden to supernatural forces from beyond the grave. Whatever the case may be, it’s not long until Ellman exacts revenge on the men who unjustly sentenced him to death. Blending horror with social realism, The Walking Dead is an effective thriller that’s well worth your time.