Afternoon there. OK, this post is going to be a fairly sharp and to-the-point post (so no real blathering and pontificating about the critical aspects of a film), as I’m rather rushed today and there’s a lot to get on with. In a few hours Mrs Sex Farm and myself are off to the Svartir Sunnudagar (Black Sunday) season of films over at Bío Paradís to see the mighty VIDEODROME by David Cronenberg. Seen it numerous times, but have never seen it in an actual cinema. Mrs Sex Farm has never seen it! Should be an interesting date film.
So while we are watching some brilliantly squeamish body horror, This week’s Sunday Cult Film Corner has not none, but two, top quality zombie flicks to sink your hungry teeth into.
First off is THE LIVING DEAD OF MANCHESTER MORGUE. Directed in 1974 by Jorge Grau, it is a joint Spanish/Italian production that was also released under the title ‘Let Sleeping Corpses Lie.’ Despite the Mediterranean production though, the film is actually set in the Lake District of North West England. The film stars Ray Lovelock as George, an antiques dealer travelling from Manchester to the Lake District to see some friends a chance encounter with Edna (Cristina Galbó) leaves his bike damaged and he is forced to travel with her to her sister’s house nearby. But when they get lost, she is confronted by a mysterious stranger with glowing eyes who tries to attack her. But what seems to be mere random attacks by crazy people is more sinister as It seems that the newly dead are returning to life thanks to the work of nearby scientists with an experimental machine that uses radiation to kill off unwanted insects.
As the body toll rises, both George and Edna come under suspicion from the local police as suspected mason style devil worshipers. Can they prove their innocence and stop the madness before it’s all too late?
Now despite some unintentionally funny aspects of the film (Some of the dubbing is weird), this is a seriously underrated zombie film and a bit of a minor classic.Despite the lowly productions values (It was seen at the time a bit of a Night Of The Living Dead knock off), this is a film that seriously creep you the fuck out. Containing some nice moments of splatter gore (The film would be an influence on the later Lucio Fulci ‘Zombi’ series), the real chills come from the excellent creating and building of atmosphere. The film seems to have more in passing to a Hammer Horror film and the League Of Gentlemen than your usual Euro trash horror, with the Lake District settings being utilised. The area has its own claustrophobic feel with the steep mountainous valleys, and gray foggy skies hemming the protagonists in and creating a sense of entrapment, heightened by the eerie abandoned church and the secluded hospital. Then there’s the effective score and sound effects, with the sinister wub noises of the radiation machine and the sounds of the zombies themselves, signalling that they are near, although you never see them till it’s to late. And the zombies, while definitely human looking and not that gruesome, are offset with their menacing red eyes.
The acting itself, while not Oscar worthym is definitely above average. Lovelock comes across as not so much of a hero but a bad-tempered, sneering, even bitchy dandy, his smooth dapper style and beard completely at odd with the rural yokels he has to deal with. Galbó gives good screams and nervous energy, while the police sergeant (Arthur Kennedy by Arthur Kennedy as an Irishman??) is both brutal and thuggish in his suspicion of the main characters.
THE LIVING DEAD OF MANCHESTER MORGUE is both respectful and sincere to the zombie canon and as it’s played straight in going for the chills, manages to overcome some fo the slightly clunky plot/narrative holes that these films almost always have. Part 2 is HERE.
The second in our gunky zombie double bill is THE HORDE, a French film from 2009. Directed by Yannick Dahan and Benjamin Roche, THE HORDE introduces us to a posse of crooked Parisian cops who are out on a revenge mission to kill a notorious drug dealer after he kills on of their squad. Finding the drug dealer and his gang holed up in an abandoned tower block, their mission quickly goes wrong and they are captured by the drugs gang. But just as they are about to be executed, it seems as if the zombie apocalypse has started at the exact same time. With hordes of zombies breaking into the building both the cops and villans have to form an uneasy alliance if they are to get out of this alive.
Now there are several things that are fairly wrong with THE HORDE. Well not so much wrong, but just really cheesy, the sort of cheese that makes your eyes start rolling into the back of your head.For example, those that are bitten turn into zombies, but then those who are uninfected also turn into the undead when shot and killed (Huh?). Then there’s the fact that they continuously kill the zombies with lead, even after realizing only a head shot does the trick (Huh?). Also it seems that the city has turned into a complete blazing inferno after only a few minutes into the film (triple huh?). These zombies are of the “runner” variety ala ’28 Days Later,’ and this means that a lot of the camera work in the scenes where you see them is sped up. Although this is meant to increase the visceral action thrills, i just found it really irritating (They did the same thing in the awful zombie movie ‘Day Of The Dead‘). To top all this, the characters are on the whole rather unlikable and fairly one-dimensional. you don’t really care that much about their issues or motivations. they’re just cardboard cutouts with guns.
But that doesn’t mean to say that THE HORDE is a completely bad film. The action and fight scenes are incredibly gory, and the action gets in really close, close enough so you can taste the iron in the blood. It’s all really gritty and desperate , the sort of thing you would expect to see if someone were pretty much fighting for their lives. And the CGI and the use of the set design is not that bad. Also there is no real rave/gender hierarchy at play here. A cast of different races and nationalities are all fodder to the zombies, and the fact that the film plays this out is a bit refreshing.
Overall THE HORDE doesn’t push any boundaries and it’s certainly not a classic in the genre by any stretch of the imagination, but it is knock about mindless fun for 90 minutes. Nomnomnom…..