Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (film)
|Let Sleeping Corpses Lie|
Spanish theatrical release film poster.
|Directed by||Jorge Grau|
|Music by||Giuliano Sorgini|
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (Italian: Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti, lit. Do Not Profane the Sleep of the Dead; Spanish: No profanar el sueño de los muertos, lit. Do Not Profane the Sleep of the Dead), also known as The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue and Don't Open the Window, is a 1974 Spanish-Italian science fiction zombie horror film written and directed by Jorge Grau and starring Ray Lovelock, Arthur Kennedy and Cristina Galbó. The film focuses on two protagonists who are harassed by a local police investigator in the English countryside and are implicated in murders committed by zombies who have been brought to life by a farming tool designed to kill insects via ultra-sonic radiation.
After being presented at the Sitges Film festival in Spain on September 30, 1974, the film was released in Italy on 28 November 1974 and was later released throughout 1975 in the United States and the United Kingdom under varying titles. In total, the film was released under more than 15 different titles internationally. In the following years, the film has become a cult picture.
George is taking a trip from his antique shop in Manchester to the Lake District to work on a new house with some of his friends. On the way, his Norton motorcycle is accidentally damaged by Edna while reversing her Mini Cooper at a petrol station. He demands she give him a lift to his destination, while Edna, on her way to visit her troubled sister, asks to go to the town of Southgate first, and to let George take her car to Windermere where she will later retrieve it.
George agrees, but the two come to a dead end road alongside a river while searching for Edna's sister's house. George crosses the river on foot to a farm where several men from the Ministry of Agriculture are using an experimental machine in a field. While asking for directions, he inquires about their machinery, which they explain is designed to kill insects through ultra-sonic radiation. Meanwhile, while Edna waits at the car, she is attacked by a man who emerges from the river, but he disappears after she reaches George.
Night falls, and Edna's drug addict sister, Katie, is getting into argument with her photographer husband, Martin, about her sister's impending arrival. Martin goes down to a waterfall near their remote cottage to take photographs, and Katie is attacked by the same man who Edna had encountered earlier. The man kills Martin, and Katie flees just as George and Edna arrive. When the three report the death, the aggressive police sergeant thinks that Katie did it. George, forced to stay in South Gate, secretly takes the roll of film from Martin's camera to a local chemist to have it developed. Katie has a breakdown and is hospitalised. At the hospital, it turns out that babies are affected too, biting people with homicidal intensity.
Back at the chemist's, they collect the photos, but the dead man does not appear in any of the pictures; the man, it turns out, is a local vagrant who drowned in the river. The sergeant arrives and takes photos and, when the couple leaves, sends one of his officers, PC Craig, to trail them. They go to the graveyard and in a room in the chapel find a half-eaten meal. Following noises to a crypt, they come across a murdered man and are locked in by the vagrant zombie, who brings the other bodies to life by touching their eyes with his blood-stained fingers. The pair manages to make a hole they can escape from and Edna does, only to find herself in a pit while the zombies have hold of George's feet. Meanwhile, PC Craig turns up and helps Edna out of the pit. George manages to get free and follows them, with the zombies chasing all three of them. They lock themselves in a room but are trapped there, and Craig soon finds that his gun is of no use. He makes a dash for the police radio he has dropped outside but is caught by the zombies who eviscerate him and begin eating his organs.
The dead break into their room and in desperation George throws a lit oil lamp at them. It smashes and the zombies burst into flame. The two escape to their car and Edna is sent off to tell the police. George plans to use the unmarked police car to go and smash the machine but it has no key so he runs off. At the machine, the farmer and two machine men do not believe George and reveal that the machine is now working up to a five miles radius. They try to stop him, but he smashes the machine and they drive off to get away from "the mad man".
The sergeant has found Craig and the caretaker's bodies, and thinking they may be devil worshippers, issues orders "to shoot to kill" George and Edna. He is then told that George has deliberately wrecked the machine. Edna has arrived at her brother-in-law's farm only to be met by Martin, who is now a zombie, but she manages to run over him as she escapes. George finds her, drops her off at a petrol station and drives off with a large can of petrol. George is caught in a police trap and Martin's body is taken back to the hospital.
In a field, the machine is repaired and switched on again, which brings to life a number of bodies in the nearby morgue. George escapes in a police car and finds Edna has been taken to the hospital, where the local morgue is. She is being sedated while George is now being chased by the police as he drives to the hospital where the zombies are now killing people, including Katie who as a zombie tries to kill her sister.
George arrives and starts setting fire to zombies but it turns out that he was too late to save Edna and as she suddenly attacks him, he pushes her into a room, which is now burning. George is then shot four times by the over-zealous police sergeant. Everything is over as far as he is concerned now and the sergeant heads to a room at the hotel in South Gate for the night. After shooting him down in cold blood, the sergeant wishes he would come alive again so he could shoot him again. He gets his wish as zombie George is waiting for him in his room, but now bullets won't stop him. In a field nearby, the machine continues working.
- Cristina Galbó as Edna Simmonds
- Ray Lovelock as George Meaning
- Arthur Kennedy as The Inspector
- Aldo Massasso as Kinsey
- Giorgio Trestini as Craig
- Roberto Posse as Benson
- José Lifante as Martin West
- Jeannine Mestre as Katie West
- Gengher Gatti as Keith
- Fernando Hilbeck as Guthrie Wilson
- Vera Drudi as Mary
- Vicente Vega as Dr. Duffield
- Francisco Sanz as Perkins
- Paul Benson as Wood
- Anita Colby as Nurse
The story is set in the English countryside near Windermere, but was primarily filmed in Italy. The scenes featuring the outside of the hospital were shot at Barnes Hospital in Cheadle, Greater Manchester. Some scenes were filmed in the Peak District in Derbyshire, not far from Sheffield. The church scenes were shot in Hathersage, while other scenes were shot in Castleton and Dovedale. The opening montage was filmed in Manchester city centre. Additional photography took place at Camelot Castle in Tintagel, Cornwall.
The film premiered in Spain on 30 September 1974, in Italy on 28 November 1974, and was released in the United States in 1975 under the title Don't Open the Window, frequenting the drive-in circuits and cinemas paired as a double feature with The Last House on the Left (1972). The film was released in the United Kingdom under its title The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue, despite the fact that the film takes place in South Gate, not Manchester.
While there are claims that a scene in which a zombie eats an eyeball was filmed, no such scene exists in any surviving print of the film, according to the liner notes of the Blue Underground DVD release. During the scene in which Craig is eaten, the female zombie reaches down toward Craig's eyeball, but before anything happens, a seemingly sloppy edit cuts to a long shot of all the zombies feasting. It is part of the DVD Stephen Romano Presents Shock Festival, which was released on 8 January 2010 in the United States.
According to Edgar Wright, the promotion of the film during its exhibition in the United States was one of the inspirations for the fake trailer Don't, which appears in the 2007 release Grindhouse.
The film was released for the first time on video and DVD in the U.S in 2000 by Anchor Bay Entertainment under the Let Sleeping Corpses Lie title. The DVD release was available in a standard edition as well as a limited edition collector's tin containing bonus film stills, a booklet of production notes, and a fake toe tag styled after the film. Both editions featured a foreword and extensive interview with director Jorge Grau.
After the Anchor Bay release of the film went out of print, the disc was re-released by Blue Underground in 2005. In 2008, Blue Underground released the film yet again, only this time in a special edition DVD and Blu-ray under the Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue title. On 27 June 2019, Synapse Films announced an upcoming Blu-ray release featuring a new 4K restoration of the film.
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From a contemporary review, Verina Glaessner of the Monthly Film Bulletin said the film was extremely close to Night of the Living Dead but praised the direction of Jorge Grau, referring to him as a "director with genuine talent for the macabre mood and unsettling detail"
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 80% of fourteen surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating was 7.2/10. Writing in The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia, academic Peter Dendle called it "surprisingly effective" and said it has "perhaps the best zombies in a year of very good zombies". Glenn Kay, who wrote Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide, said that it foreshadowed the later Italian zombie films of the 1980s. Kay called it "the most effective and disturbing Spanish film of the period".
- Fleming, John (June 1977). "The Living Dead at The Manchester Morgue". The House of Hammer. London: General Book Distribution. 1 (9): 36.
- Curti, Roberto (2017). Riccardo Freda: The Life and Works of a Born Filmmaker. McFarland. p. 249. ISBN 978-1-476-62838-7.
- Kushner 2006, p. 71.
- "Barnes Hospital - Manchester". The Abandoned: A Kingdom of Ghosts. Tour in Latvia. 6 February 2017. Archived from the original on 15 December 2017. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
- Pykett, Derek (2008). British Horror Film Locations. McFarland. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-786-45193-7.
- 1975 TV advertisement for a double-billing with The Last House on the Left: Video on YouTube
- DVD Verdict Review - Stephen Romano Presents Shock Festival Archived 9 February 2010 at the Wayback Machine
- "Online Exclusive: Horror Film Directors Dish About 'Grindhouse' Trailers". Rolling Stone.com. Retrieved 2007-04-04.
- Gingold, Michael (27 June 2019). "Synapse Films Unearths 'Manchester Morgue' with 4k Restoration, Premiering at Fantasia". Rue Morgue. Archived from the original on 28 June 2019. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
- Glaessner, Verina (1975). "Fin de Semana para los Muertos (Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue, The)". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 42 no. 492. p. 78.
- "Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti (Let Sleeping Corpses Lie) (Don't Open the Window) (1974)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2015-02-05.
- Dendle, Peter (2001). The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia. McFarland & Company. pp. 103–104. ISBN 978-0-7864-9288-6.
- Kay, Glenn (2008). Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide. Chicago Review Press. pp. 83–84. ISBN 978-1-55652-770-8.
- Kushner, Tony (2006). Remembering Refugees: Then and Now. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0719068835.