The Plague of The Zombies
From The Deuce
- Released in 1966
- Running Time: 91 Min/90 Min (USA)
- Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Cast and Crew
- Directed by John Gilling
- Written by Peter Bryan
- Starring André Morell, Diane Clare, Brook Williams, Jacqueline Pearce, John Carson, Alexander Davion, Michael Ripper
The Plague of the Zombies (1966) is a Hammer Horror film directed by John Gilling. It stars André Morell, John Carson, Jacqueline Pearce, Brook Williams and Michael Ripper. The film is notable for its seminal imagery, which influenced many films in the zombie genre, and its themes of colonialism, exploitation and tyranny.
Sir James Forbes (Morell) and his daughter, Sylvia (Clare), travel to a Cornish village at the request of his former pupil, Dr. Peter Thompson (Williams). He needs help solving a spate of mysterious deaths, and Peter's wife, Alice (Pearce) is soon the next victim. The trail leads to Squire Hamilton (Carson), who has returned from a trip to Haiti armed with voodoo secrets, which he is using to resurrect his victims as living dead zombies to work in his tin mine.
Production on the film began on 28 July 1965 at Bray Studios. It was shot back-to-back with The Reptile using the same sets, a Cornish village created on the backlot by Bernard Robinson.
I watched this Hammer production only yesterday and it's worth watching from beginning to end. It's especially a treat to be savored on Halloween night. Although I basically knew what this 1966 film was about, it nevertheless held my interest. Just about all of the movie's elements, such as the script, camera shots and overall direction, have been carefully crafted so that John Gilling would avoid creating a hackneyed, cliche-driven monster flick. Not bad, considering that "The Plague of the Zombies" was filmed in a single month!
Actor Andre Morell stars as Sir James Forbes, a London Professor who travels to Cornwall after answering a distress letter sent by his ex-student Peter Thompson (Brook Williams). Cornwall itself is a small communal village riddled with superstitious beliefs; the villagers won't allow scientific research performed on their dead. Upon arriving, Forbes investigates a mysterious fever that has killed 12 villagers. The cause of this disease is unknown, but Peter's study indicates that every victim suffered dementia, a loss of appetite, and skin discoloration. What makes this case even stranger is how the bodies buried in the Cornwall cemetary are disappearing! Later, Forbes' strong-willed daughter Sylvia (Diane Clare) follows Peter's distressed wife Alice (Jacqueline Pearce) after she suddenly wanders away from home in a trance. Curious about Alice's mental state, Sylvia eventually comes across an abadoned tin factory where Alice's body turns up dead. Sylvia, meanwhile, gets a frightful scare in an accidental encounter with a walking corpse! After collecting a number of scientific clues, Forbes, Sylvia and Peter eventually uncover a devious scheme conducted by Clive Hamilton (John Carson), the town's wealthy Squire.
The suave and sadistic Hamilton is secretly performing voodoo rituals to infect innocent villagers with zombification; once transformed, the living dead are forced into slavery, working endlessly in the tin factory's underground mines. In a wicked pattern, Hamilton preys upon each victim by politely asking for a drink of water, dropping the glass and forcing each person to cut his/her skin. This enables the Squire to collect drops of blood and seal each victim's fate with black magic. After discovering this, the alarmed Sir James and Peter race against time; they must break into Hamilton's estate and rescue Sylvia before SHE becomes the Squire's latest zombie slave!
Like I said before, this film is guaranteed to hold your interest in place. Beware for a few scares! Wide-eyed corpses will rise from their graves only to be decapitated and set on fire! Also watch out for masked figures wearing hollow masks and dripping blood into wooden coffins!
Reviewed by Biohazard
- Rigby, Jonathan, (2000). English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema.