LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE
General Release 1974
92 minutes approx
The Inspector -
Directed by -
Written by -
Sandro Continenza & Marcello Coscia
Edna and George, two young people with very different weekends planned, come together when she backs her car into his motorcycle at a petrol station. Stuck together, he agrees to accompany her to her sister's house before heading on to his friends near Windermere in the British Lake District. Stopping off to get directions from some workers using a new experimental pest control device in the fields, Edna is attacked by a man who later turns out to be already dead. Later, her brother in law is similarly attacked, only he is killed. The police quickly move in and George is the prime suspect, but the local hospital soon has more ambulatory corpses as zombies set about eating the flesh of the living.
First off, let's get the matter of the title out of the way. The Manchester Morgue appears nowhere in this movie. There is a truck for taking chilled corpses to that place, but the living dead are never at the Manchester morgue.
Audience response to this DVD release will be mainly determined by their ability to tolerate the film's vintage. It was made in 1974 and it was a lot harder to show blood, guts and entrails back then, but this film does have a go at it. The film came out the same year as THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and it uses a remote community and hippy-ish protagonists in a similar way as well as riffing very strongly on the classic George A Romero NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, not least in the fate of the main hero. LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE isn't a patch on any of those movies. It's not as tense, scary or involving. The characters are likeable enough, but the mix of accents all over the place takes away from the believability of the thing. So do the zombies, who are not very scary from start to finish, staggering around more like they've had a few to drink in the pub at lunchtime than been revived from their graves.
Which isn't to say that there aren't things to like. This is widely regarded as a zombie movie that is worth your time and the premise does have it moments. The cause of the zombie plague is explained even before the first zombie starts staggering around as an experimental pest control ultrasonic device. Not only does this make the dead get up and want to eat the living, but it has a similar effect on newborn babies. There aren't that many zombie movies that try to sneak in an ecological message at the same time.
There is also a sort of nightmarish quality to the film that is not so much based in the horror as in the filming, the mix of nationalities and accents and odd moments such as a naked female jaywalker that have nothing to do with the main story.
The modern gorehound will find very little here to impress, but for the student of horror film history, especially zombies of the world, this will have a great deal of interest.Top
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