The Plague of the Zombies

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The Plague of the Zombies
Plague of zombies poster3.jpg
1966 theatrical poster
Directed by John Gilling
Produced by Anthony Nelson Keys
Written by Peter Bryan
Starring André Morell
Diane Clare
Brook Williams
Jacqueline Pearce
John Carson
Alexander Davion
Music by James Bernard
Cinematography Arthur Grant
Edited by Chris Barnes
Production
  company
Hammer Film Productions (UK)
Seven Arts (US)
Distributed by Warner-Pathé (UK)
20th Century Fox (US)
Release date(s) 9 January 1966 (UK)
12 January 1966 (US)
Running time 90 minutes
Language English
Budget ₤100,000 (approx)[1]

The Plague of the Zombies (1966) Hammer Horror film directed by John Gilling which stars André Morell, John Carson, Jacqueline Pearce, Brook Williams and Michael Ripper. The film's imagery influenced many later films in the zombie genre.

Plot[edit]

In a Cornish village during the mid-1800s, the inhabitants of the town are dying from a mysterious plague that seems to be spreading at an accelerated rate. Even the local doctor, Peter Thompson (Brook Williams), cannot combat the disease. Alarmed, Thompson sends for outside help from his friend Sir James Forbes (André Morell). Accompanying Sir James is his daughter Sylvia (Diane Clare). In an attempt to learn more about the disease, Sir James and Dr. Thompson disinter the corpses that were recently buried. To their surprise, the men find all the coffins empty. Conducting further investigations on the mystery lead the doctors to encounter zombies walking near an old, deserted tin mine on the estate of Squire Clive Hamilton (John Carson). Sir James is informed that the squire lived in Haiti for several years and practiced voodoo rituals, as well as black magic. This information leads him to research on the subject of the black arts.

Later that evening, Squire Hamilton pays Sylvia a visit. Purposely, Hamilton manages to shatter a wine glass, and Sylvia happens to cut her finger on one of the sharp edges of the glass. Secretly, the Squire conceals a piece of the blood-stained glass into his coat pocket and departs. With a vestige of Sylvia's blood, Hamilton uses his voodoo magic to lure the heroine into venturing in the dark woods. She is led to the abandoned tin mine by an army of walking zombies for a voodoo ceremony that will transform her into one of the walking dead.

While Thompson follows Sylvia to the mines, Sir James investigates the Squire's house and finds some small figures in coffins the Squire uses for his voodoo. After a struggle with one of the Squire's henchmen the room is accidentally set ablaze, Sir James barely managing to escape after threatening a servant who notices the inferno for information on the mine. He races to the mines to join Thompson, while in the mansion the figures in the coffins catch fire, causing their zombie counterparts to do the same and go crazy. Using the distraction caused by the burning crazed zombies Sir James and the doctor rescue Sylvia and flee from the burning flames as they listen to the anguished screams of Hamilton and his zombies; thus the plague is ended.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

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. Pearce and Ripper appeared in both films.

The film was released in some markets on a double feature with Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

Critical reception[edit]

The Plague of the Zombies has been well received by critics. AllMovie called it a "spooky, atmospheric horror opus that ranks among Hammer Films' finest."[2] Time Out wrote, "perhaps a little tame these days, compared with modern gore-shock, but Gilling's Hammer chiller [...] is highly atmospheric."[3] The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films wrote, "much has been said of The Plague of the Zombies' influence on genre landmark Night of the Living Dead, made in 1968. A unique and shocking experiment in pushing the parameters of Hammer horror, The Plague of the Zombies deserves greater recognition in its own right."[4]

It currently holds a 75% approval rating on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on eight reviews.[5]

In other media[edit]

A novelization of the film was written by John Burke as part of his 1967 book The Second Hammer Horror Film Omnibus.

The film was adapted into a 13-page comic strip for the October 1977 issue of the magazine House of Hammer (volume 1, # 13, published by Top Sellers Limited). It was drawn by Trevor Goring and Brian Bolland from a script by Steve Moore. The cover of the issue featured a painting by Brian Lewis of a famous scene from the film.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Marcus Hearn & Alan Barnes, The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films, Titan Books, 2007 p 96
  2. ^ Binion, Cavett. "The Plague of the Zombies (1966) - Trailers, Reviews, Synopsis, Showtimes and Cast - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  3. ^ "The Plague of the Zombies Review. Movie Review - Film - Time Out London". timeout.com. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Hearn & Barnes 2007, p. 101.
  5. ^ "The Plague of the Zombies - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
Sources
  • Hearn, Marcus; Barnes, Alan (September 2007). "The Plague of the Zombies". The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films (Limited ed.). Titan Books. ISBN 1 84576 185 5. 

External links[edit]