Plague of the Zombies (1966) Review
A highly influential zombie film that still regards the White Zombie inspired traditional link between Voodoo and the undead with a modicum of respect. There are no toxic substances or medical explanations for zombies here, only Voodoo tainted blood.
A British made film from the prestigious Hammer collection. Highly recommended for horror buffs, especially because it is the only Hammer zombie film, but it would probably put fans of films paced like The Matrix to sleep. An unsettling sleep, but sleep nonetheless.
Sir James Forbes is a highly respected doctor. He is summoned to a remote Cornish village by one of his former students, doctor Peter Tompson, to help deal with a mysterious disease. The illness is killing off villagers, but since the locals are superstitious, the doctor had been unable to perform any kind of autopsy.
Sylvia, the daughter of Sir Forbes, accompanies her father on his journey to the countryside to reinforce her feeling of silver spoon superiority over the simpletons in the country. She is an English bird, and due to her characteristically pale skin it is hard to tell whether she is a zombie or not.
Sir James Forbes digs up a grave of a recently deceased villager, only to discover that the grave is empty. Only to be discovered by constable Swift, digging up a grave, looking like a very demented thrill seeker with his panting breath, his rolled up sleeves and his sweaty palms. Somehow, Sir Forbes manages to convince the constable not to charge him for grave robbing, and also to aid him in his investigation.
The investigation soon turns more exciting when more people are put to their graves, more empty graves are unearthed and more dead people start walking the earth.
A secretive local links all the risen dead in seemingly innocuous ways. The squire, Clive Hamilton, spent some time in Haiti and some Voodoo seemed to have followed him home.
It is estimated that Plague of the Zombies offers social critique of the practices of slavery and colonialism. I did not really notice any such critique. What I did notice instead was that the male hierarchy in the film is distinctly represented by their facial hair.
- Sir James Forbes is obviously the older alpha male who enjoys the highest regard. He has a hirsute appendage of the upper lip with graspable extremities, in other words a handlebar moustache.
- Squire Clive Hamilton is the antagonist, who is a candidate for the next alpha male. He sports a modest approach to a mutton chop. This suggests that he is well groomed, however the fact that sporadic mutton chop remains on his cheeks suggest he has a wilder nature and that he is hiding something.
- Doctor Tompson is a spineless nancy boy who is 19th century Emo or Buddhist, or perhaps both. He has no facial hair whatsoever, but he does sport a modest approach to the one eye fringe.
Jacqueline Pearce portrays the role of doctor Tompson's wife. She is promptly transformed into a chicita del morte, and along with Return of the Living Dead 3's Mindy Clarke, she is a certified C.I.L.F.
That's a corpse I'd like to find a good home for.
The only bone of contention I have with this film is the rather unimaginative ending. It just ends. There is no interesting twist in the plot, even though the audience is set up exactly for a marvellous twist in the plot. Clearly, this film came out before the 10 commandments of horror were conceived.
John Carson, Diane Clare, Adré Morell, Jacqueline Pearce, Brook Williams.