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A cop chases two young people visiting the English countryside, suspecting them of a local murder; unbeknownst to him, the real culprits are the living dead, brought to life with a thirst for human flesh by radiation being used by area farmers as a pesticide alternative. Written by
The opening ten minutes of this film present a skewed, cynical perspective of society. As our "hero" rides through London on his way to the countryside, Spanish director George Grau feeds us endless images of choked traffic, smoke spewing from grates, commuters filing onto buses like zombies and, finally, a quick shot of a naked woman dashing across a busy street. We notice her, but nobody else does, they're too damn occupied with their own busy lives.
It's a theme revisited in 2004's SHAUN OF THE DEAD, another zombie film with intelligence behind it, but in LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE, it's purely subtext, but it's subtext that works on us like a spreading virus.
As George Romero suggested -- in "Night of The Living Dead" -- that radiation from a downed satellite may have been responsible for the revival of the long gone and recently deceased, Grau is more overt as he links what looks like a piece of farming machinery to the resurrection of the dead.
This film's effectiveness is due to its deliberate pacing and detail-oriented direction. A principle that horror is unexpected in the sunshine is applied to the film's first half as the stumbling dead begin to multiply.
The final showdown in a hospital (The Manchester Morgue) has a graphic, savage nature to it that restates the subtle subtext.
Like great Spanish horror directors before him, George Grau brings a respect for the genre to this moderate masterpiece and his sincerity overcomes the occasional plot snag.
Horror is about fear, and not just fear of the unknown, it's also about the fear of knowing too much.
Perhaps it is best to glide through life like a zombie, oblivious to the changes around you.
LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE was a milestone for horror movies.
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