LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE (1974)
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Italian horror is also known as The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue and takes place in England where an experimental machine to rid farms of parasites is also raising the dead with it’s low-level radiation. The film focuses on an antiques dealer traveling through the area on business (Ray Lovelock) and a young women (Cristina Galbó) as they encounter the flesh eating corpses and try to convince local police the recent dead are rising from their graves. No one believes them and as the machine increases it’s range, more corpses begin to return to life…in search of food!
Directed by Jorge Grau, with four writers attached, this is a spooky and atmospheric zombie flick that has a surprising amount of gore for a pre-Dawn Of The Dead zombie film. Grau and cinematographer Francisco Sempere make good use of the settings (Italian countryside standing in for England) especially when visiting it’s graveyards, old churches and even a hospital for it’s climax. Grau’s zombies are a bit smarter and faster than Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead fiends and seem to have a rudimentary thought process in their uses of tools and weapons, while also appearing to be a bit intentionally malicious in their attacks. The gore is very well done and the zombies are suitably chilling. The atmosphere and ghoulish events are also punctuated by a very effective score by Giuliano Sorgini. The flick isn’t perfect. The movie does take quite a while to get going, but is very effective when it does. The acting from the cast is nothing to brag about and our hero George (Lovelock) comes across as real jerk a good portion of the time. The police also seem insufferably stupid…and the inspector (Arthur Kennedy) is an outright thug…especially when it’s obvious something strange is going on, intent on blaming out-of-towner George instead. Not that we should expect scientific accuracy in a film like this either, but an insect killing machine raising the dead does provide a few unintentional chuckles.
I like this movie. It’s not great, but has a lot of atmosphere and does get a jump on the zombie/gore trend a good few years before Romero and Fulci set it in motion with their Dawn of the Dead and Zombie respectively. The acting is pretty bad, as is a lot of the dialogue and it is a bit slow to get started. Once it does, it’s a creepy and blood-spattered zombie flick that does deliver the goods in it’s second half. Worth a look if you haven’t seen it and love everything zombie.