The Plague of the Zombies (1966)

Zombruary 2 continues…

One from the re watch pile…

The Plague of the Zombies (1966)

Film: I’ve always been a Hammer Horror film fan over a Universal Monsters fan. Yes the images of the Universal character designs are the most loved, but I have always preferred the design, the direction, the scores, the stories and yes, the ‘Hammer Glamour’ as the women of these films are occasionally referred.

The cinematically early splashes of blood and violence don’t hurt either.

This film, The Plague of the Zombies, was filmed back-to-back with another Hammer film, The Reptile, and shared most of its cast, and were both directed by John Gilling, who also directed Trog and The Mummy’s Shroud. It was written by Peter Bryan who also wrote The Hound of the Baskerville and The Brides of Dracula. The interesting thing about the films is they were both part of double features, but not together as the sets and cast may have confused audiences! This was original presented with Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

This film is set in August 1860, and tells of Sir James Forbes (André Morrell) and his daughter Sylvia (Diane Claire) who travel to a small Cornish town to assist their friend, Peter Tompson (Brook Williams), the town Doctor who is unable to halt what seems to be a plague effecting the townspeople. His wife, Alice (Jacqueline Pearce) seems to be succumbing to this disease as well.

One recently buried corpse had no autopsy performed on it so Tompson and Forbes dig up the coffin, only to find it empty! Upon further investigation they find that the dead walk the moors around the town, and that maybe, just maybe, the town squire, Clive Hamilton (John Carson) is using voodoo that he learned in Haiti to perform these wicked deeds… but why? What is his horrible scheme?

This film is a well constructed and entertaining look at voodoo, albeit not necessarily a very accurate portrayal. The acting is over the top and very theatrical but that just adds to the drama of the proceedings! Gilling has created a fascinating look to the film too, as most of the film has a cramped, oppressive, claustrophobic feel to it. When you combine that appearance with the score, which is a combination of traditional dramatic horns mixed with tribal beats, it creates a unique feel throughout the film.

This all makes for an effective horror film, not scary, but a totally entertaining film that sits high in my favourite Hammer films.

Score: ****

Format: This movie was reviewed using the region B Bluray which runs for approximately 90 minutes (87 if you watch the DVD in this collection). It is presented in a wonderful, considering the age, 1.66:1 and a matching mono 2.0 audio track. It should be good considering the process of restoration, which is explored somewhat in the extras.

Score: ***1/2

Extras: A bunch of excellent extras on this disc:

World of Hammer Episode: Mummies, Werewolves and the Living Dead is an episode of The World of Hammer (as the title suggests) narrated by Oliver Reed explores the various films of Hammer than explored… yes, you guessed it…. Mummies, Werewolves and the Living Dead, relevant here as The Plague of the Zombies makes an appearance.

Raising the Dead is a retrospective making of the film and is incredibly informative, mixing film historians, fans and actual cast comments makes for a quite thorough recollection of the film.

The restoration comparison is fascinating as it shows the footage of the film before and after restoration, sometimes in a split screen so you can accurately see just how much work was done, not just with colour, but with telecine wobble, artefacts and even complete rips in the original negative.

Finally we have a trailer for the film.

This release also came with a DVD copy of the film (unreviewed)

Score: ****

WISIA: It’s certainly high level Hammer Horror so it definitely will get repeat viewings!

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