The Plague of the Zombies

film

A rash of strange deaths in a 19th century Cornish village prompts an investigation by Sir James Forbes and his young daughter as to the cause. What they discover leads them into witchcraft and voodoo and an army of the un-dead.

Welcome to the world of Hammer. A unique place of lurid technicolour thrills and distinctively British horror. A place where a quaint Cornish village is inhabited by sinister red coated huntsmen. Where the villagers are inevitably suspicious of visitors from out of town and the local Squire is the most sinister man you are ever likely to meet. Bad acting, check. Corny dialogue, check. 90 minutes of entertaining movie, check.

The Plague of the Zombies was released in 1966 and was an attempt to launch a new direction for the studio that did not rely on Dracula, Cushing and Lee. Its director, John Gilling, shot this movie back to back with another thriller, The Reptile, using the same crew and locations. It took an unusual subject for Hammer, namely Voodoo, and turned in an extremely enjoyable film with lovely imagery and some genuine shocks. One scene in particular, where the dead literally rise from their graves, is particularly chilling. Some of the acting and dialogue, as mentioned before, is not of the highest standard, but this only serves to make the movie all the more enjoyable.

Andre Morrell, veteran of many Hammer films, most notably Dr Watson in The Hound Of The Baskervilles, is clearly having a lot of fun as the pompous Sir James and steals the film. The other notable performance comes from Jacqueline Pearce who also took the lead in the companion film The Reptile.

The zombies in this film may not hold a candle to anything George A. Romero could conjure up (this film pre-dates Night of the Living Dead) but they are an entertaining bunch, nonetheless.

 

Best performance: Andre Morrel.
Watch this if you liked: Any Hammer Horror film from the sixties.

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