Hammer horror has a rich history, those who are fans of horror will be very familiar with the studios more famous films such as The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula & The Mummy. These movies alone made the studio a huge success in 1960’s & 70’s but there were many more including a dalliance into the zombie genre with The Plague of Zombies, released in 1966.
Sir James Forbes is called to assist a local doctor deal with a mysterious disease that is killing off the inhabitants of a small village in Cornwall. Alongside his daughter he travels to the remote place & is shocked to discover most of the buried dead are missing from their graves. After a zombie encounter on the lands of the local Squire, investigations show that the Squire has recently returned from Haiti & has a keen interest in voodoo rituals.
Is the Squire somehow involved in the missing bodies & walking dead & is it related to the tin mine that sits on his land?
The opening of the movie makes it clear that this is a zombie movie based more around voodoo, even if it still chooses to use the reanimated dead. The attempt to create mystery around who is behind the voodoo priest mask doesn’t really work. There are few potential suspects & as soon as the Squire enters it’s clear that he is in control. You can’t seem that shifty & not be into voodoo!
He hams it up in his role, playing a rich Englishman/movie villain with a certain amount of glee. He is easily the most memorable of the characters if not for the right reasons. The same can be said for the zombies too. It’s hard to criticise how they look considering the year & the budget but they are quite laughable & have next to no threat. They are just slaves to the voodoo magic & play only a bit-part of the movie.
While watching a film like this it’s important to remember the year…it makes the few scenes of casual sexism more amusing than offensive. Not that I think there is anything particularly bad throughout, it’s all respectful to a point but it’s a movie from an era where the females go to bed while the males talk business. An era where, after being attacked by a group of men, the female has lots of time to try & escape but chooses to instead wait in fear.
I found it more amusing than anything but it is a strong reminder of just how important strong female leads are in horror.
The Plague of the Zombies is a well-paced movie with great use of music that highlight important moments throughout, it grabs your attention should it be waning. An action packed ending ensures you will go away mostly satisfied.
Looks & acts its age now, there is no getting away from that. Baring one scene of the dead rising from shallow graves there are few exciting zombie moments. Some cheesy acting, great music & an exciting ending makes for a pretty good overall package though.
The Plague of the Zombies