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DVD Review: The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (1974)

Morgue I'm not really a fan of zombie movies, but when I heard about a Spanish/Italian production set in the north of England in the 70s and with the title The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (aka Let Sleeping Corpses Lie), I just couldn't resist - especially with Amazon selling it for under £5.

And I'm glad I didn't. It's a lost gem, right from the opening scenes of city centre Manchester in the early 70s (it's changed, but you can still recognise much of it) and orchestral funk intro (John Dalton Street - named after a Manchester location) through to the zombie mayhem and poor-quality voice dubbing. It's cult movie central.

The title is slightly misleading as most of the action takes place in the Lake District (although the filming actually took place in Derbyshire's Peak District). And it all starts with a motorbike ride. The biker is called George (Ray Lovelock), a Manchester antique dealer who is on his way to Windermere to deliver some artefacts. Unfortunately his bike gets a bump off a Mini whilst refuelling, so he's forced to take a lift off the offending Mini driver (Edna - played by Cristina Galbo). But something strange is in the air - and it's going to affect everything and everyone in the area.

You see, there's a growing pollution problem in the country - and it's boosting the insect population. A new machine has been developed by the Ministry of Agriculture that emits sonic waves, causing the insects to kill each other, thus controlling the numbers. Unfortunately, it's having other side-effects - creating aggressive babies and bringing the dead back to life.

That means murderous zombies haunting the countryside - and it seems like only George and Edna know what is happening. One man who doesn't believe any of it is the local police inspector (Arthur Kennedy - a man with a strange Irish-American accent and the only policeman in Britain to carry a gun at the time). He believes the two "strangers" are ritual killers, up from the city for a spot of blood letting. Will he finally believe them? Will George and Edna stop the zombies before the police arrest them? And will anyone believe their story about the sonic rays?

All is revealed over 90 minutes of - at times - gruesome action. It's probably not as gruesome as some of the more well-known zombie flicks - director Jorge Grau (to his credit) does try to maintain a storyline rather than boost the bodycount. But when the zombies do get to work, it's pretty nasty stuff, with some very impressive special effects. And with it all happening in the north of England, somehow it all feels a little more real.

If you're a fan of 70s horror - particularly quirky British horror (Deathline springs to mind here), you'll enjoy this Euro/Brit flick. As you would expect, the plot isn't water-tight and the acting and dubbing leave something to be desired, but the story ticks along nicely, with a couple of neat twists at the end and the picture quality and sound of this Anchor Bay title are much better than I expected. And if you enjoy a zombie film, all the better.

Extras on the DVD:

Interview with director Jorge Grau
Original opening scenes
Cinema trailers
TV spots
Radio spots
Poster and stills gallery

View the trailer

Find out more about the DVD at Amazon.co.uk

Comments

Dan

Some of the locations are in fact in the south Lake District. I drive past one on my way to work. It's just off the A590 at the A5074 turn off.

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