One of the original zombie movies
Troy M. Ros | Northfield, MN | 10/17/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is an above average Hammer Studios film from 1966. It was filmed back to back with The Reptile, another above average Hammer production, using chiefly the same crew and much of the same cast. The story is that there is a mysterious plauge killing people in a small Cornish villiage. Dr. Forbes (André Morell) travels there to inviestigate and is accompanied by his daughter, Sylvia Forbes (Diane Clare), who uses it as an excuse to visit her childhood friend Alice Tompson (Jacqueline Pearce). Alice's husband is the local doctor and has been unable to figure out why people have been dying. His wife Alice has also been acting strange lately, somewhat withdrawn and lifeless, which has been the main sympton before the locals died. There is a local gang of privileged ruffians who are headed by the local nobleman, Squire Clive Hamilton. Hamilton more or less runs the vilage and he also owns the old abondoned mine near town. He is of course approached by Dr. Forbes but cannot provide any help as to the cause of deaths. But soon he doctor begins to suspect the truth: That the Squire is actually a practicing Voodoo priest who has been turning locals into zombies to work in his mine!Before too long Alice Tompson dies and her distraught husband has her buried in the local cemetery. We get to watch as she rises from the grave to report to the mine for duty! There are lots of cool shots of zombies lumbering around and rising from gravesIn this film the whole town is shrouded in mist and there is a constant sense of dread among the population. Michael Ripper does a great job as the local constable who is trying to solve the mystery along with Dr. Forbes. Tightly put together with a fast pace for most of the movie, this is a great release from Hammer. It is also the only zombie movie they ever put out which is too bad as this one turned out so well. This release from Anchor Bay is another notch in their cap for the fine picture (1.85:1 anamorphic) and sound. There are a couple of trailers and a World of Hammer Episode: "Mummies, Werewolves & the Living Dead". I am glad I own this dvd and I will watch it many more times over the years."
Hammer's Only Excursion Into Zombie Horror
Simon Davis | 09/30/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"By 1966 Hammer Studios were among the leaders in producing stylish horror stories often in a period setting and they were responsible for resurrecting most of the great horror characters of Hollywood's heyday like Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy who had been out of favour for almost a decade. The Zombie genre strangely was never a subject Hammer explored, the sole exception being this beautiful 1966 production of "Plague of the Zombies". It incorporates most of the elements made famous by Hammer, an English setting last century, a mysterious plague settling on the unsuspecting townspeople, a dark secret that needs unravelling, and ghoulish deceased residents rising from the dead for a sinister purpose. This film makes terrific viewing with some of Hammer's best atmospheric and makeup work on show in a beautiul full colour production."Plague of the Zombies", takes place in a small Cornwall village where a mysterious epidemic is decimating the population. The victims develop a strange lethargy and then die from undeterminable causes. The village doctor Dr. Peter Thompson (Brook Williams), is completely baffled so he writes to his old college mentor in London Sir James Forbes asking him to come down to help solve this problem. Sir James travels down with his daughter Sylvia (Diane Clare). who is a friend of Peter's wife Alice. Upon arriving however they discover that many strange things are going on. They first encounter trouble with the local Squire Clive Hamilton who has recently arrived in the area after a period in Haiti and owns a large estate that includes a disused tin mine. Peter informs them that the villagers distrust him and wont let him perform an autopsy on any of the plague victims making a treatment impossible. Alice alarmingly is also suffering from the epidemic. Sylvia's suspicions are raised when she sees the Alice wandering off into the forest at night. Following her she comes into contact with Squire Hamilton and his young ruffian friends and fears for her life. Alice is later found dead and a local villager found near the body states that he has seen his recently deceased brother wandering in the area with a ghoulish zombie-like appearance. Sir James begins to suspect Squire Hamilton of foul play and after further investigation involoving a clandestine visit to the Hamilton estate, he dicovers that the squire is using voodoo practices from his days in the Carribean to firstly kill and then ressurect the deceased villagers as zombie like slaves to work in his tin mine. Watching Alice's fresh grave Sir. James and Peter witness a ghastly scene whereby Alice's body is turned into a zombie and Sir James is forced to kill her in front of Peter. Squire Hamilton has meanwhile singled out Sylvia as his next target and while visiting her manages to get a sample of her blood which he then uses in his magic magic ritual to lure her into his clutches. Arriving just in time to save her Peter and Sir James witness the whole of the interior of the mine erupt into flames with the Squire and his unfortunate zombie followers consumed in the holocaust.With it being one of the most atmospheric of the Hammer productions, "Plague of the Zombies", also displays good acting by the leads and an overall beautiful film with high production values. The superb zombie makeup is some of the best ever created at Hammer with the ghoulish grey faces and rotting skin a real stand out. The famous dream sequence of the zombies clawing their way out of their graves in the mist shrouded graveyard is one of the most remarkably eerie scenes in any Hammer production. Fine performances are delivered by Hammer regular Andre Morell as Sir. James Forbes who is excellent in his investigator role trying to solve the mystery and the two female leads are also most capable with Jacqueline Pierce as Alice being so effective that she returned in director John Gilling's next production of "The Reptile", playing the title character. John Carson makes a terrifically sinister Squire Hamilton who is at the centre of all the trouble and Hammer regular Michael Ripper lends his always excellent support as the befuddled Sargeant trying to help out in solving this mystery. Composer James Bernard contributes an eerie score combining the wild Carribean elements with the more traditional Gothic tones so typical of Hammer. Lush colour photography and Victorian flavour, the typical Hammer trademarks, are amply used here alongside the "greyish"toned scenes with the zombies to startling effect.Despite having a fairly obvious story and villian "Plague of the Zombies", is a first rate horror story. Hammer Studios had a way with stories such as this where the violence in minimal and the blood letting kept to the background. The zombie scenes alone make "Plague of the Zombies", memorable horror viewing before more famous zombie stories surfaced on screen in following years. For some atmospheric chills in the mist shrouded English countryside make sure you see Hammer's "Plague of the Zombies"."
Deservedly influential horror
www.DavidLRattigan.com | United Kingdom | 07/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of Hammer's best directors, John Gilling, has turned out an excellent piece of horror whose influence on the zombie subgenre, especially in terms of its impressive imagery, has been significant.
Admittedly, there are a few faults: Diane Clare is rather unconvincing; Brook Williams overacts; the script, while very good overall, suffers occasional lapses. However, these weaknesses are outweighed by an otherwise excellent cast and execution. It is hard not to see shades of Christopher Lee in John Carson, superb as the outwardly charming, inwardly villainous Squire. Andre Morell is strong as usual in the role of the main protagonist.
Like Gilling's next film, The Reptile, made back-to-back on the same sets, Plague of the Zombies's thematic centre is power, authority and oppression, and the film is full of ironic role-reversals, all of which foreshadow the Squire's eventual demise, the triumph over imperialism and tyranny.
But if the sophisticated subtext makes it all sound rather too dark and heavy-going, don't be put off: This is a ripping good horror tale in Hammer's best and most enjoyable style."
www.DavidLRattigan.com | 04/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Not really much to add to what has been said by others on this page. Pague of the zombies is one of the very best efforts from the much derided hammer studios.Hammer films are a strange breed, the best can offer beauty (photography and direction), hilarity, irony and intelligence all combined. Some are very good films, some are riotously silly and some almost unwatchabley boring. Trying to cope with depression, agoraphobia and OCD means that i look for something to make the days go by easier, i couldn't watch television or other movies, but i found myself able to escape with these gems from anchor bay, thanks alot to hammer and anchor bay for giving these films their release on DVD. i am the guy, the anonymous reader from new york here to guide you through your hammer DVD experiences, i'll make sure you know what to expect from which ever hammer you purchase.If you haven't already got this wonderful film plague of the zombies is an essential."