“This disease seems to me to be more mental than physical.”
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, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Amateur Sleuths
- Voodoo and Black Magic
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)
- The spooky mid-film zombie sequence
No, but it’s recommended for fans of zombie flicks.