The Plague of the Zombies (1966) Poster

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Just Look At That Smile On Jacqueline's Face...Brrrrrrr!!!
ferbs5411 December 2007
Andre Morell's character, Dr. Forbes, makes a very unusual house call at the opening of "The Plague of the Zombies." His old student, now practicing in a small (Victorian era) Cornish village, is mystified by the recent outbreak of deaths in that town, and even his wife, Alice, is starting to exhibit some strange lethargy. After Forbes arrives to help, he and his friend uncover a mix of voodoo, grave robbing and the undead, in this lesser known Hammer title that certainly deserves a greater renown. And thanks to the fine folks at Anchor Bay, this film's popularity may soon spread beyond its current cult reputation. "Plague" features an intelligent script, fine acting, solid photography and great atmosphere. Andre Morell's doctor makes for a very reassuring action hero, despite the actor's age (he was 57 at the time this picture was made). The film boasts three very chilling scenes: the first, nighttime appearance of a zombie on a hillside; the much-celebrated dream sequence; and Alice's rising from her grave. The smile on actress Jacqueline Pearce's face in this last scene is just haunting. Though marred by a somewhat disappointing finale, the film remains a minor horror masterpiece and one of the scariest works that I've yet seen from the House of Hammer. This movie would make a wonderful double feature with the similarly themed "White Zombie" (1932), or with another Hammer film made that same year (1966), "The Reptile," featuring Pearce again and the same director, John Gilling. Any way you watch it, though, the film is a real winner.
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One of the most original and entertaining Hammer movies of the 1960s.
Infofreak7 January 2003
My vote for best Hammer movie of the 1960s goes to 'The Plague Of The Zombies'. It is easily one of the most original and entertaining films the studio ever released. Director John Gilling (also responsible for the bodysnatching classic 'The Flesh And The Fiends' a.k.a. 'Mania') really turns up the suspense in this gripping tale. He is helped enormously by a strong cast of leads - Andre Morell (the best Quatermass, in the original fifties TV version of 'Quatermass And The Pit'), who plays Sir James Forbes, man of science who must eventually accept that magic exists. Diane Clare ('The Haunting'), his independent daughter Sylvia, who becomes entangled in the mysterious goings on in a small Cornish village. And John Carson ('Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter'), the charming but evil Squire who they must defeat. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and am baffled why it is rarely mentioned when Hammer horror movies are discussed. Highly recommended fun, creepy and well acted.
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An excellent Zombie Movie
BlackMonk14 September 2000
This is one of the few good horror movies about zombies that I've ever seen. It has wonderful acting, mystery, intrigue, a great plot, and, of course, scary zombies. I wish modern horror movie makers would create more movies in the vein of this 1966 classic, rather than continually pumping out the tripe that we see so much of today. This film is a respectable addition to any horror lover's personal movie collection.
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That's the Sound of the Men Working in the Chain Gang
BaronBl00d4 July 2003
John Gilling directs with style and flair in one of his minor masterpieces The Plague of the Zombies. Hammer only made one foray into the zombie sub-genre with this film about a doctor and his daughter paying a visit to a former medical student who has written for help. Apparently in his Cornish village, men and women are dying without explanation and are showing symptoms the doctor cannot diagnose with any real degree of certainty. Of course they soon discover that the bodies are no longer in their caskets and that many of them have been seen AFTER they have died. Gilling effectively films the sequences of action that take place in typical Hammer style with an emphasis on suspense. Although lacking the star power usually attributed to a Hammer production, this film is right up there in terms of great Hammer films. The only "star" is Andre Morrell(you may remember him as Watson in Hammer's The Hound of the Baskervilles). Morrell is quite good and I think he should have been utilized more by the studio than he was. The rest of the cast does a very credible job as well. Gilling's camera is the real treat though as he really shoots several scenes quite effectively. His dream sequence with the zombies tearing the earth from their way out into the open is a classic. Now I know some people will make the inevitable comparison to this and Night of the Living Dead(a film that came AFTER this one). That is understandable using NOTLD as the barometer of all zombie films; however, let me just point out again that this film came before that one and may have aided Romero in some way. Granted there are not a slew of similarities, but Romero may have gleaned something for this production as it is apparent he did from The last Man on Earth and Carnival of Souls. I too wish Hammer had done more with zombie films. they would have given that sub-genre a bit more class than is sometimes associated with it.
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"Don't let the dubious plot put you off one of Hammer's best horror movies."
jamesraeburn200324 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
In 1860, a rural Cornish village has been struck by a mysterious sickness which is killing off members of the community at an alarming rate. Baffled, the local GP Peter Thompson (Brook Williams) calls in his old university mentor Sir James Forbes (Andre Morell) to help him find out what the disease is and to destroy it. Forbes and his young daughter Sylvia (Diane Clare) arrive to find that Thompson has lost all confidence in his ability and the locals have lost all faith in him too. Two more deaths follow in the village including Thompson's beloved wife Alice (Jacqueline Pierce) before it finally transpires that the laird of the community, Squire Hamilton (John Carson), has been practicing witchcraft in order to kill off certain people before raising them from the dead as zombies for cheap labor in his tin mine. Forbes and Thompson have to fight their way through the superstitious and narrow minded ways of the locals in order to stop Hamilton before he eliminates the entire community and his next intended victim is Sylvia!

The Plague Of The Zombies was shot back-to-back with Hammer's other Cornish shocker, The Reptile, by director John Gilling at the legendary Bray Studios, Berkshire, England during the summer of 1965. Both pictures shared the same sets and these were redressed accordingly to their required use. But if you watch The Reptile you will recognise the same village and graveyard sets! It is worth noting that The Reptile is also rich in atmosphere despite the low budget and the limitations that back-to-back shooting would suggest. Both Plague and The Reptile were released as supporting features to two of Hammer's main features the following year. The Reptile supported Rasputin The Mad Monk (March 1966) and The Plague Of The Zombies went out with Dracula Prince Of Darkness in January 1966. Yet despite their second feature status, both of Gilling's films outshone the main feature.

When I first saw The Plague Of The Zombies some seven years ago when it was shown late one Friday night on Channel 4, I didn't think that it was going to be very good judging by the plot synopsis in my film guide. But when the end credits rolled, I was astonished by just how good it really was. During the fifties, John Gilling had directed a number of quota-quickie pictures and some of them were very mediocre, but here he takes a rather dubious storyline and gives it a lot of weight by emphasising the distinct contrast between the superstitious country folk and the more forward thinking men of science and the lengths that the latter have to go to in order to solve the mystery. For instance, they have been refused the right to perform any autopsies so it isn't until Alice dies that Forbes has to persuade Thompson to allow him to perform an autopsy to try and find out the cause of death. In addition, there is an imaginatively staged green-tinted nightmare sequence, which is still talked about by horror buffs and it has been suggested that it inspired George A Romero when he made his Night Of The Living Dead only a few years later. In this memorable sequence Thompson sees the dead rise from their graves. This turns out to be a premonition as after he awakens, Forbes and the local police sergeant (Michael Ripper) exhume all the graves to find them empty.

The Plague Of The Zombies also features fine performances from Andre Morell as Sir James Forbes portraying him as a charming, intelligent and resourceful man of science who is prepared to do anything for the benefit of good even though the superstitious locals don't always understand his methods and can't understand that what he's doing can only ultimately save them. Morell's performance is strong enough to rank among the best of Hammer's screen heroes such as Peter Cushing's Sherlock Holmes and Christopher Lee's Duc De' Richeleau. Brook Williams offers good support as Peter Thompson whilst Jacqueline Pierce is standout as his wife whom has to be decapitated by a shovel in order to save her from being enslaved to the cult of the undead forever. John Carson is suitably suave as the evil Squire Hamilton and ever present is the reliable Michael Ripper who played virtually everything for Hammer over the years including pirates, old soaks and pub landlords and here he is equally versatile in the role of the sympathetic Sgt Swift.

In summary, many people agree (including myself) that The Plague Of The Zombies is John Gilling's finest hour as a director as this assignment gave him more opportunities than the quota-quickies to exploit the setting and place emphasis on the class structure of the time thus giving more weight to the plot. In addition, Bernard Robinson's sets are excellent and Arthur Grant's cinematography is suitably atmospheric.
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Pretty cool zombie film!
willywants8 December 2003
Young workers are dying because of a mysterious epidemic in a little village in Cornwall. Doctor Thompson is helpless and asks professor James Forbes for help. The professor and his daughter Sylvia travel to Thomson. Terrible things happen soon, beyond imagination or reality. Dead people are seen near an old, unused mine. Late people seem to live suddenly. Professor Forbes presumes that black magic is involved and someone has extraordinary power. He doesn't know how close he is: the dead become alive because of a magic voodoo-ritual, and so they must serve their master as mindless zombies. A cool zombie flick, with a decent cast, gruesome special effects, good atmosphere...worth watching! Not in the same league as, say, "The beyond" or "zombies", but it's decent entertainment anyways!
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methodical Hammer goodness
dr_foreman9 July 2004
This is certainly the only movie that I've ever seen involving zombies mining tin instead of consuming living flesh. It's actually quite a nice change of pace to see a cerebral zombie flick, though - one that relies on mystery and characterization instead of torrents of gore. As usual for a Hammer movie, the cast consists of cool character actors who could out-perform a good half of our current big stars. Andre Morell is great as our concerned hero, John Carson makes a suitably sleazy villain, and veteran Hammer guest star Michael Ripper gets one of his meatiest, most memorable roles. A solid flick, if not terribly fast-paced or gripping. It's fun to summarize the plot to your friends when you're drunk (it's about zombies...mining TIN!)
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A Fine "Pre-Romero" Zombie Movie
Uriah4319 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This movie begins with a young woman by the name of "Alice Mary Tompson" (Jacqueline Pearce) awakening from what appears to be a bad dream. The scene then shifts to London where a gentleman named "Sir James Forbes" (Andre Morell) is handed a letter from his daughter "Sylvia Forbes" (Diane Clare). The letter just happens to come from the husband of Alice who goes by the name of "Dr. Peter Tompson" (Brook Williams) which details a mysterious ailment in the Cornish village where he and Alice live. Being a professor of medicine Sir James is intrigued and decides to travel to this village to check it out. Sylvia comes with him because she is anxious to see her good friend Alice. Anyway, when they get there they soon discover that this plague is unlike anything they have ever come across and they cannot seem to isolate the cause. Now rather than disclose any more and risk ruining the film for those who haven't seen it I will just say that this movie was certainly quite watchable. At least for me. I say this because I typically like most zombie movies. Not only that but I especially like movies bearing the "Hammer" trademark. So this film definitely had my interest and I was not disappointed. Having said that however, I think it's only fair to point out a couple of minor deficiencies. First, the zombies looked a bit goofy. But considering that this movie was made in the mid-60's I suppose one has to make some allowances. The other thing I noticed was that some of the acting was a bit mediocre at times. Not bad necessarily but a bit mediocre all the same. Be that as it may, I liked the performance of Diane Clare and I also thought the story flowed very smoothly from one scene to the next. In short, this was a fine "pre-Romero" zombie movie and I rate it as slightly above average.
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A Great Movie of Zombies Made Before the Classical `The Night of the Living Dead'
Claudio Carvalho8 September 2003
In 1860, Sir James Forbes (André Morell) and his daughter Sylvia (Diane Clare) receive a letter from his former brilliant student Dr. Peter Tompson (Brook Williams), who is married to an old school friend of Sylvia, Alice (Jacqueline Pearce). In this letter, Peter tells that mysterious deaths are happening in the area where he is the local doctor. Sir James decides to visit the friends with Sylvia and helps Peter to find out what is happening. There, he realizes that the bodies of the new dead are disappearing from their graves. A further investigation shows them the existence of zombies in that location. This 1966 movie from Hammer just released on DVD in Brazil is a great film of zombies. There are just a few good movies about this subject that I can remember (the best of them and classical 1968 `The Night of the Living Dead' and the two others of George Romero's trilogy – `Dawn of the Dead' and `Day of the Dead', the good remake of `The Night of the Living Dead', the great Bill Pullman's `Brain Dead' and also great Jennifer's Grey `Ritual'). This movie from Hammer is also an excellent one, and if the viewer pays attention, he will notice that it was made BEFORE the 1968 `The Night of the Living Dead'. I supposed that George Romero's movie was the first important one to explore the zombie theme, but now I realize that this 1966 Hammer's movie came first. My vote is eight.
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Shamelessly entertaining
tomgillespie20021 March 2011
Hammer's only stab at the zombie genre, the film takes place in a small town where strange occurrences and the odd disappearance catches the eye of local doctor Peter Tompson (Brook Williams). To investigate further, he enlists the help of his old teacher Professor (and Sir!) James Forbes (Andre Morell) who arrives with his daughter Sylvia (Diane Clare). Soon strange sightings are seen of zombie-like creatures, and suspicion is aroused with the aggressive behaviour of a group of fox hunters and the reclusive Clive Hamilton (John Carson). Is this the work of black magic and voodoo, or scientific experimentation gone wrong?

This is probably Hammer's most shamelessly entertaining film. This doesn't have the cutting edge politics and satire of Romero's original zombie trilogy, or the over-the-top cheap gore of Raimi's Evil Dead films, but has the distinction of being a typically British film, only with zombies! It's predictable and silly but it's bloody good fun. It's also made with Hammer's high production standards, beautiful sets and a surprisingly sinister edge. These aren't zombies that will eat your brains, and to be honest they only properly turn up in the last twenty minutes or so, but the film moves fast and has a great lead performance in stiff-upper-lipped Andre Morell. Not bad for a film that was the supporting feature in a Hammer double bill.
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Have you seen this location before?
Caz19642 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The plague of The Zombies is the only zombie film that Hammer studios made,which is a shame but then i suppose they specialised more in vampire movies.Even though this was there only one it probably makes it more memorable as it was the last proper zombie film which stuck to the true definition of what a zombie was supposed to be,which were people turned into the living dead so that they would be slaves and very cheap labour workers for a wealthy master.Zombies can kill but they don't live on peoples flesh as seen in the later and current zombie films.This is what i like about plague of the zombies,and why it seems to have become sought after. It was made the same year as Hammers the Reptile and uses the same location and sets,and even some of the same actors.Also like the Reptile ,Plague Of The Zombies has a very cold atmospheric quality about it,ma by this is to do with the location and sets,i don't know but they are genuinely creepy films,and if you have seen one you may as well see the other.Although i would say that Plague Of The Zombies does seem to have a lot more people in it,so was probably made on a bigger budget.Also like all Hammer films its entertaining and times a bit silly but thats Hammer.
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Hammer's only zombie movie is a winner.
BA_Harrison16 February 2008
George Romero might have breathed life back into the zombie sub-genre with his classic 'Night Of The Living Dead' (1968), but I think he possibly owes a debt to Hammer's 1966 movie 'Plague Of The Zombies': his infamous flesh-eating cadavers bear a remarkable resemblance to Plague's (admittedly less ravenous) mouldy, shuffling corpses.

In Hammer's effective little shocker, André Morell is Sir James Forbes, a professor of medicine who travels to Cornwall (in the company of his daughter, Sylvia, played by Diane Clare) after receiving a strange missive from ex-student Peter Tompson. Now working as a GP in a remote part of the West country, Peter is completely baffled as to why his patients have suddenly started dropping like flies.

After investigating matters in the Cornish town, Sir James discovers that the victims are being killed and returned to life (through the power of voodoo) by nasty landed gent Squire Hamilton (John Carson), who is using the rotting automatons to work his supposedly abandoned tin mine.

Although it was originally released as a support feature for 'Dracula, Prince Of Darkness', Plague Of The Zombies is easily one of Hammer's finest efforts and essential viewing for fans of the living dead. The talented cast give some excellent performances (Morell, in particular, is great as the open-minded man of science who is quite prepared to embrace the notion of witchcraft), whilst director John Gilling ensures that the film rattles along at a fair pace, managing some pretty chilling set-pieces in the process: a creepy dream-sequence that sets the standards for corpses crawling from their graves; a shocking scene in which we meet our first walking dead; and a truly memorable moment that features the decapitation of a zombie by spade (come to think of it, maybe Mr. Raimi also owes a little of his success to this film).
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Marsh Fever.
morrison-dylan-fan2 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Being left with my nerves torn to ribbons by 2012's ultra-creepy The Woman in Black,I felt that for October,I would take at one or two of Hammer Horror original titles.Searching round on Amazon,I was thrilled to discover that my interest in Hammer had hit at the perfect time,thanks to Studio canal bringing out new editions of the films,existentially remastered from the original negatives.Carefully judging the prices,I decided that Plague of the Zombies would be my intro to the world of Hammer Horror.

The plot:

Reciving a letter from his former top pupil, (whose also married his daughter's best friend) about a mysterious illness that is leading to people dying in a very strange way,Sir James Forbes and his daughter Sylvia decided to go and pay Dr. Peter Tompson a visit,in the hope of helping him to stop the continuous spreading of the illness.Arriving to the village in Cornwall,James and Sylivia are horrified to discover that the town is controlled by upper-class gangs,who rule the area with an iron fist.Attempting to make the gangs see reason,the Forbes and Tompson tell them that an autopsy has to be performed on one of the victims,so that the cause of death can officially be confirmed.Angered by their demands,the controllers of the village tell the Forbes and Tompson that it is simply "marsh fever" and is something which does not need any investigating at all.

Seeing signs of this being a cover up,James and Peter begin to relies,that they only have one,illegal option left,to find out what disease is really killing the poor people of the town:dig up a body.Prepairing to carefully open the coffin,James and Peter are interrupted,when two police officers spot them,and get set to arrest them both on "grave robbery".Relising that this could possible be their only chance to see-what after effects the illness has had on the decease body,Forbes and Tompson quickly open the coffin,only to discover,that despite a person being buried in it,the coffin is now completely empty….

View on the film:

Feeling unsure about what I was about to witness,in my first ever,"classic era" Hammer Horror,I was relived to find Studio Canal giving the film a tremendous red carpet treatment,with the bonus making of on the DVD showing the painstaking work that the company had put in,to bring this terrific movie,truly back from the dead.Opaing with a lively,proto-Jaws like score from the great James Bernard,director John Gilling shows the events at the start of the movie to be "just another,typical day in Cornwall" as a West Indies Voodoo/Zombie ritual takes place deep within a tin mine.Despite being restrained by the studio to only use sets that would be used for the filming of another movie, (The Reptile) Gilling shows tremendous skills in not allowing the "boxed-in" restrictions from stopping him creating a wonderful,mysterious atmosphere.

Although the film does feature a number of good,surprisingly dream-logic style Zombie scenes,Gilling unexpectedly makes the most chilling moments in the film,ones which involve psychological fear rather than gore,with one of the most terrifying scenes in the film,being a character fearing that they may be about to get gang Raped.Showing a strong influence of Arthur Conan Doyle,screenwriter Peter Bryan, (who,in 1959 wrote the screenplay for Hammer's version of Doyle's The Hound of the Baskerville) combines Tompson and the Forbes increasingly dangerous, amateur sleuthing with a wonderful,cleverly handled underlying subtext,which shows,that even after becoming dead & buried,the working class,is here literally used as slaves by the upper-class of the village,to do all of the "dirty work for them,even after death!

Despite great performances from the whole cast,with the charming Diane Clare, (whose other credits include Ice Cold In Alex,Whistle Down the Wind and 1963's The Haunting) as Sylvia Forbes,and the wickedly good,James Mason-sound-alike John Carson as the boo-hiss Squire Clive Hamilton being two of the main highlights,Bryan sadly struggles to give the film the knock-out punch that it feels to be building towards in the first hour,as the ending leaves behind any sense of atmospheric, mystery horror behind,to instead end on a poorly done, Disaster movie-like note .
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The Village Of The Undead.
Spikeopath27 October 2009
Sir James Forbes (André Morell) and his daughter, Sylvia (Diane Clare), are out of the blue requested to travel to a Cornish village by Sir James' former pupil, Dr. Peter Thompson (Brook Williams). The village has become a haven for mysterious deaths and Peter's believes that Sir James can shed some light on the matter. No sooner do they arrive when another victim surfaces and it's quickly becomes evident that something far more sinister than medical problems is at work here.

Hammer Horror tackles the zombie sub-genre with no little amount of success. Directed by John Gilling, The Plague Of The Zombies was filmed back to back with the equally entertaining The Reptile. Filmed out of fortress Hammer that was Bray Studios, the same sets that were used for The Reptile were also used here. With Bernard Robinson's Cornish Village again a treat for sore eyes. 1966 was the last year that Hammer used Bray Studios and it's fitting that it was a year that saw efficient and varying creepers filling out the Hammer Horror cannon. Peter Bryan's story, aided by some interesting imagery, delves into the dark world of witchcraft and voodoo, thus giving this particular "zombie" piece an extra dimension. This is not merely about zombies roaming the countryside and killing indiscriminately. Evil they are of course, but they have a purpose and being that comes to light as the story unfolds. There's also nods to tyranny and exploitation, wryly observed by the makers here, cheekily cloaked in a cloud of rotting flesh.

Technically it holds up rather well too. The effects are strong enough to carry the story, with the zombies eerie personified as they shuffle around all green flesh and grumbling away as we know they should. All captured in deluxe colour that comes out nice in High Definition. The cast are fine, with Morell standing out as he gives his usual classy and professional performance, while James Bernard's score is suitably at one with each and every change of pace. This is not just a fine and under appreciated part of the Hammer Horror output, it's also a worthy and most notable entry in the "zombie" genre. See it if you can. 7/10
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Highly recommended Suspense zombie film
Coventry1 June 2003
Warning: Spoilers
When we think about zombie films, first titles that come to mind are George A. Romero's trilogy, the Return of the living dead series and maybe Peter Jackson's Braindead. All good films off course but this 1966 film should definitely be on this "top of mind" list.It contains all ingredients off the ideal horror film: suspense (only the George Romero films have that too, most others are more funny than scary). Several scenes just give you the creeps and you stare to them with your eyes wide open. Also, great acting performances by rather unknown actors. The accents are typical British and very appropriate in the atmosphere of the film (in my opinion, of course) the make-up effects and the creepy music just make the whole film complete. No negative remarks from my side !!!

But perhaps what makes the film excellent the most is the very original story... Zombies rise from their grave and have only one mission : hunt the living !!...normally... In this Hammer production (of course Hammer... you gotta love 'em) the zombies are brought back by men, for whole other causes... The highly respected Dr. Forbes receives a letter from one of his former students. This man, Dr Peter Thomson, now is the doctor in a small village in Cornwall. A lot of young men died in this village and he's calling Dr. Forbes for help. Dr. Forbes and his daughter Sylvia go there to help him out, and they too soon discover that there's something very strange going on. they want to perform an autopsy on one of the bodies to find out more about the disease but this ain't possible because all of corpses disappeared. When Peter's wife becomes a victim of this disease too, both the doctor's do everything to discover what in God's name is going on. One man in town is a great mystery...Mr. Hamilton. He recently came to town and now own the old mine. This mine was very profitable in the past but it had to be closed because many worker lost their lives. Nobody knows much about Mr. Hamilton, except that spend many years in Haïti...the country of voodoo. Telling more about this film would be a real shame cause the it's definitely worth checking out. If you're in the mood to see a good zombie film, but a little more scarier than usual...this is your film
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Brisk, efficient Hammer offering
Matti-Man29 January 2006
Though I'm a big Hammer fan from first time around, incredibly I missed this when it came out (actually, I was a bit young), and never caught up with it on TV. A pal of mine , gave me the DVD, so I was finally able to see it.

PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES isn't the front rank of Hammer movies. I saw THE MUMMY right after and it's plain that Hammer weren't spending much money on ZOMBIES, compared with the earlier film, but though it was obviously made by the Hammer B-team on a b- movie budget, ZOMBIES does everything that it was intended to do.

Great to see a very young Jacqueline Pearce as the doomed friend of the heroine. I met Jacqueline a few times during the 1980s when she was in BBC's BLAKE'S 7, and she was a very funny, sometimes outrageous person. But you'd never know it from this fairly thankless role.

Anyway, not Hammer's best, but fun nonetheless. Worth a look if you ever get the chance to see it.
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Surprisingly well-made zombie film
crimsonrose7127 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Quality zombie movie? Yep, this is such surprise, beautiful-looking and well-made costume Gothic instead of repulsive gory garbage and trashy production values. Group of spoiled young rotters, led by over-aged but well-acting John Carson, cause outbreak of zombie plague (and exploitative capitalism!) in 19th century Cornwall. Storyline and characters remind - maybe intentionally - about Dracula. For example, André Morell as the old Professor who is trying to solve what is behind these strange wounds and mysterious blood disease turning Victorian Brits as monsters, is like elegantly heroic, Very English version of Van Helsing.
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Andre Morell Doesn't Save Humanity This Time. But He Does Save This Movie
Theo Robertson1 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Sylvia Forbes receives a letter from her school friend Alice who lives in a village in Cornwall , a village that has been struck by a mysterious illness that is killing the inhabitants . Since her father is the eminent doctor Sir John Forbes she suggests they visit the village to get to the bottom of this mystery

If you've been brought up on the post Danny Boyle super fast zombie era then don't build your hopes up . In fact if you're ages with me and remember catching all these George A Romero movies on home video in the 1980s where a zombie sinks its teeth in to someone and bite a chunk out of someone , again don't expect any gore . In fact don't expect any zombies because its not that type of movie . In many ways it plays out like a period mystery set in the late 19th Century and uses most of the sets used from the other Hammer movie from 1966 THE REPTILE one of the best most atmospheric films the studio produced . If you're expecting something along the lines of THE REPTILE again you're going to be disappointed The problem lies in the way the story is told . We're shown a scene where black extras thump on some bongo drums ( Films in those days did play up to stereotypes a bit too much and Hammer were worse than most at it ) where a Shaman gives an incantation . If you've no knowledge as to what might be happening here the title of the film gives a very big clue . What this means is that the audience are one step ahead of Sir John Forbes as he tries to solve the mystery , a mystery that is rendered redundant to the audience . The Shaman's plan for the undead when it is revealed is faintly ridiculous when given any thought , but I guess those nasty mine owners don't believe in a ( Pun alert ) paying their employees a living wage

Not to be totally negative there is a plus point in the film's favour and that is the casting of Andre Morell as Forbes . Morell is best known for his portrayal as the eponymous Professor in the original BBC production of QUATERMASS AND THE PIT . Every time I give a loan of my DVD of that show to anyone vaguely interested in television science fiction they always comment that one of the best things about the show is Morell's performance . He effectively plays the same character in exactly the same way which is in no way a criticism . Forbes is an intellectual studious man with a hint of both arrogance and open mindedness and he's very easy to buy in to as being a real person who is on a mission to solve something which makes the film slightly better than it possibly deserved to be
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If you want to see an English gentleman cutting the head off a female zombie with a spade this is the film for you!
John-Jude9 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Let's not pretend that this film is some kind of masterpiece-it's Hammer and you know what your in for.Like most of these movies it takes an eternity to get going but when it does your just about glad you stuck with it.Acting is above average for the genre-Morel is excellent as the hero and plays the upper class gent with aplomb.Never did understand why the Squire wanted a crew of zombies in the first place.It seems he was only using them as cheap labour for the tin mine situated underneath his house-an extreme measure to go to.Suppose zombies don't need lunch breaks or ask for pay rises but by the look of them they make pretty crap workers for a tin mine.Not in the least scary-but good hammy Hammer fun.
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One of Hammer's finest efforts ever eschews Hollywood zombie lore
fertilecelluloid29 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
With such an evocative title as "Plague of the Zombies", could Hammer possibly have gone wrong? Of course they could have, but they didn't... because this is one of their finest efforts ever, up there with "Horror Of Dracula", "Twins of Evil", "Vampire Circus" and "The Curse of Frankenstein". The film's undead denizens have closer ties to the zombies of voodoo-ridden Haitian folklore than the Romero-inspired eaters of human flesh. In Haiti, the dead are resurrected to labor for the living. This is the premise here, and it's a fascinating one. Director John Gilling ("The Reptile") takes the subject matter by the horns and delivers a creepy, fascinating, low key tale of terror that eschews traditional Hollywood zombie lore and brings unexpected pathos to the plight of the exploited dead. The scenes of the dead rising are stunningly realized and the dusty locale is a major plus. A classic. Also worth noting is John Burke's excellent novelization of the film (from Pan).
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Doesn't work as well today, but impressive and original nonetheless
TheTominator23 October 2011
Known for being the first movie to introduce zombies as flesh eating ghouls (before Night Of The Living Dead did it), this low-budget Hammer movie doesn't really have a lot to offer.

We start with a creepy underground voodoo ritual, unintelligible chanting and blood dropping on a doll, and a woman waking up and reciting the same chant. We learn later that the woman is an old friend of the protagonist, played with expression by Diane Clare. Her father and her go to a small British village, to visit the woman and her husband, a doctor (and former student of the old man) who is struggling with the skepticism of the village people on letting him perform an autopsy on any of the many recently deceased. The last noteworthy character is the Squire Clive Hamilton, a rich and mysterious man.

Hamilton's men kidnap Ms. Forbes (Clare), and take her to his home, where they begin to torture her mentally, but the charming Squire comes to the rescue, and from there on, attempts to spark a relationship with her.

Of course not everything's what it seems, and soon enough Mrs. Forbes' friend dies, murdered by a decomposing man. While her father and the doctor investigate, she learns that Mr. Hamilton might be the cause of her friend's death, and that she might be next.

While quite original for its time, for me it didn't work as well, because, well, I've watched a lot of movies that pull the same tricks before seeing this. The look of the zombies is easily surpassed by that of Night Of The Living Dead, which was made only a year later, and the acting is average at best, the standoff being Clare and André Morell, who plays her father. The mystery is easy to figure out 30minutes in the movie, but it's still a very original movie for it's time, and you can see that it was made with a lot of love for the genre.
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Plague of boredom
Maciste_Brother20 April 2004
After hearing so much good about it, I finally watched PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES last night, the Anchor Bay widescreen release, and wow, how boring can a movie get? POTZ was excruciatingly slow, even for movies of that period. And I usually don't mind slow movies, like the original version of SOLARIS. But this most definitely overrated "horror" film was a chore to sit through. The problem with watching Hammer movies these days is that they basically look like average episodes of THE AVENGERS or any other TV series made in the UK in the 1960s, but stretched to a very unforgiving 90 minutes. I expected Emma Peel to pop-in at any given moment while watching POTZ.

Everything about Hammer movies screams "penny-pinching film-making": Zero style. Cheap sets, which look all the same in every Hammer movie. Cheap costumes. Mostly unknown actors who aren't very good at acting. Very little action or violence but lotsa stilted expositionary dialogue. Underdeveloped scripts with many dumb characters, like Dr. Thompson. The only good scene was when Sylvia was hounded by the men on horseback. But the fact that this scene was the best moment in a movie with zombies shows how boring and not scary the rest was.

Even though this movie has zombie in its titles, the zombies in the movie aren't very important to the main story. The zombies are just "slaves" used by an aristocrat for his underground mine. The silly film even shows the zombies being whipped into servitude even though zombies are supposed to be dead and therefore can't feel pain, which makes the use of a whip pretty funny.

Not scary, cheap looking, badly acted and very slow, with very little understanding of the whole concept of zombies (see my point about the whip), PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES is not worth your time at all.
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What's the difference between a Ghoul and Zombie?
AdamJezard25 July 2004
I have to say I have never read such ill-informed postings anywhere in my life as I have from those people who dislike this film. Normally, if people don't like films I like I don't care much. But your lack of knowledge has got to me and I have to let you know.

To start with – those people who complain the zombies in this film don't eat people. Well, I'm afraid you're confusing ZOMBIES with GHOULS. Don't worry, you are in good company. George A Romero is apparently equally as stupid, because he doesn't know the difference either. GHOULS eat the flesh of human beings. ZOMBIES do not.

ZOMBIES are people who have been put into a death-like state in order to fulfil the role of slave to those who have mastery over them. Here is the second mistake of the ill-informed – the George A Romero films and their ilk aren't really about ZOMBIES at all, but about GHOULS. OK, he doesn't know the difference and neither did you, but maybe you do now.

I could go on (does anyone really think that `Night of the Living Dead' is superior to `Plague of the Zombies'? If so, they must be the kinds of people who find Ewok movies emotionally satisfying). However, I will just finish by advising anyone who has been stimulated to anything like a moment of would-be intellectualism to take a look into the religion of Voodoo. They will find a fascinating mixture of Catholic and ancient African religions. They may also realise that zombie-ism is merely a metaphor. A zombie has been buried in the ground, and dug up again and their soul now belongs to their new master.

Zombie-ism is a metaphor for the slavery that turned Voodoo into a religion in the first place. The slaves who practised it had been buried (in the holds of ships) and when they emerged they were under the control of new masters and their soul was not their own. Voodoo emerges as a way the slaves explained (to themselves) what had happened to them and coped with their new state.

People comparing this film with Romero's rubbish are not comparing like with like. There are few real `zombie' films. `I Walked with a Zombie', `White Zombie', and `The Plague of the Zombies' are three rare films that do explore the meanings and background of zombie-ism. "Plague" is thoughtful, intelligent and well acted and does not make an elementary confusion between GHOUL and ZOMBIE. Hooray, at least, for that.
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lovechop-vs-bacon9 July 2013
To keep this simple - atmosphere, that is the best, single word to describe this film for me.

It emanates the creepiness that modern zombie flicks lack, thus, this is the definitive zombie film in my book. The acting is top-shelf and you warm up to (connect with) the characters quick-like as a result.

Then, the makeup... as one of the earlier zombie films done in color, you really get to see the terrific detail lacking in earlier B&W movies, and I dare say better than later, more mainstream titles that I won't mention by name ;) Again, atmosphere.

Bottom line, not much in the way of gore, as is so common in modern zombie movies (they seem to rely on it), but what you get is emotion. I can watch often and love to experience the creepy feel of the film, the ruthlessness of the villains, the triumphs and tragedies of our protagonist and his crew, then...the films climax. Greatness from start to finish. Love it!
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