Lorna Webster (Nancy Kelly) has been away from Eben Rock, Massachusetts for two years. The town, not far from Boston, is notorious for being a place where 18 women were burned at the stake. The person responsible for condemning the women as witches was Elijah Webster. One of the women, Jezebel Tristan, vowed to return and take revenge on those who condemned her. Lorna is the last of the Websters.
The bus Lorna is riding in stops abruptly when an old lady with a dog is seen standing in the road. The old lady gets on the bus, but the driver will not allow the dog to accompany her. The woman sits down next to Lorna. She tells her that her name is Jezebel Tristan, and she knew Lorna’s Grandfather, Elijah. Lorna is taken aback by the woman. Just then the bus goes out of control and crashes into a lake just outside of Eben Rock. The only person that survives the crash is Lorna. Twelve other people are pulled from the lake. The old woman that Lorna says was sitting next to her is the only one not found.
When Lorna left Eben Rock, she broke her engagement to the town doctor Matt Adams (John Loder). Now that she has returned, Matt and Lorna pick up where they left off. As soon as Lorna gets situated in the family house strange things begin to happen. Lorna begins to believe that she may be possessed by the spirit of Jezebel Tristan. The townspeople begin to gossip and become paranoid. Many believe that Lorna is responsible for everything bad that happens in town. Lorna too is starting to believe the same thing. It’s up to Matt and the local priest, Reverend Jim Stevens (Otto Kruger) to find the truth.
“The Woman Who Came Back” was released in 1945 and was directed by Walter Colmes. It is an American, poverty row horror film, distributed by Republic Pictures.
Many have compared the film to something that Val Lewton would produce. I found that a bit of a stretch but, for a low budget film it was pretty good. The movie has lots of spooky atmosphere and many old dark house elements. It’s also heavy on the psychological horror aspects which are probably why many compare it to Lewton’s films.
Although some of Lewton’s style may be present, it doesn’t have the ambiguous ending and artistic flair that Lewton usually had. Instead, the ending to “The Woman Who Came Back” seemed a little hurried and not quite polished in tying up all the loose ends. Other than that, the movie was interesting to watch and a decent example of forties horror.