As a child I had always loved looking through a book of horror that belonged to my Mother. It had early Dracula posters with Bela Lugosi leaping from the page, Christopher Lee with blood red eyes and a zombie carrying a young woman. The latter was something I was obsessed with, I always turned to that page because in quite basic terms – it freaked the hell out of me. His peeling skin, his bulging eyes and his gormless smile really scared me but my curiosity took me back to that page again and again. I would sit and stare at it for ages. As I grew older and moved away from home I never saw the image again.
A few months back I wanted to start collecting Hammer Horror movies and instead of buying individual ones I wanted to absorb myself in the box set. The Plague of the Zombies, yes that sounded like a good one and shock, horror – there he was. The zombie that had kept me obsessed for years, I remember it clearly as I was lying on my sofa and I literally sprung up in excitement. He was more than just a picture now, he was a moving image! This has become my favourite Hammer film ever since.
A mysterious epidemic in a little village in Cornwall has broken out and the local Doctor is at his wits end as to the cause. He asks Sir James Forbes for help. The James and his daughter Sylvia travel to Thomson but soon witness terrible things. After much investigation James assumes it is black magic but in a moment of wonderment he realises that he is right. With the use of voodoo someone is bringing the dead to life…
The film is just wonderful with all the classic hallmarks of a good old fashioned tale of the dead coming to life. André Morell who plays Sir James Forbes is such an English gentleman something that I find endearing, he is dressed immaculately and his accent is just wonderful. Alice Thompson who is the Doctor’s wife does a wonderful job of convincing us she is the walking dead I have to say, the make up is not overdone and she has a translucent and creepiness about her that is subtle yet effective. This is the key to most Hammer horrors, their blood may be bright red and their villains dressed theatrically but everything else is subtle – this balance works tremendously well. This is especially evident in their lesser known film Rasputin – I must say that Christopher Lee looks rather silly but somehow everything comes together with the help of his mesmerising eyes and the wonderful cast all telling the story of the Mad Monk.
The Plague of the Zombies has it all – voodoo, gravediggers and the walking dead, what more could you ask for?