Plague of the Zombies, The (1966)

“This disease seems to me to be more mental than physical.”

Plague of the Zombies Poster

Synopsis:
A young doctor (Brook Williams) in a 19th century Cornish village summons the help of his mentor (Andre Morell) in determining the cause of a mysterious plague killing off his patients. When Dr. Forbes (Morell) arrives with his plucky grown daughter (Diane Clare), they are distressed to notice that Williams’ wife (Jacqueline Pearce) — who is enamored by a local squire (John Carson) — seems sickly. Meanwhile, when attempting to conduct an autopsy, Morell and Williams discover that graves are being exhumed and bodies are missing.

Genres:

Review:
Hammer Studios’ foray into zombie films evokes visceral memories of Val Lewton’s I Walked With a Zombie (1943) and foreshadows certain visual elements of George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968). On its own, it remains a reasonably effective, historically situated horror flick with fine cinematography and direction — particularly during a green-tinted mid-film zombie sequence which emerges as a freaky surprise and is genuinely disturbing. Other elements of the narrative strain credulity or are overly obvious, but that’s par for the course in a genre flick like this.

Note: Deep-voiced Carson — who film fanatics may recognize as Captain Kronos’ vampire-fighting partner — sounds remarkably like James Mason, don’t you think?

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Effective cinematography (by Arthur Grant) and direction (by John Gilling)
    Plague of the Zombies Cinematography1
    Plague of the Zombies Cinematography2
  • The spooky mid-film zombie sequence
    Plague of the Zombies Dream
    Plague of the Zombies Dream2

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended for fans of zombie flicks.

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One Response to “Plague of the Zombies, The (1966)”

  1. Not must-see, but not terrible; a reasonably engaging flick throughout (some logic-dropping notwithstanding…like, for example, why exactly is all of this happening?). It’s served up well, production-wise, but it really should be better than it is.

    And, yes, Carson (esp. here) does sound a *lot* like James Mason. One might almost think that, as a boy, he sat in movie theaters for all-day showings of whatever Mason movie he was watching. Though Mason does have a very distinct voice – one that wouldn’t be hard to mimic, if one has the talent to do so.

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