Dr. Peter Thompson (Brook Williams) lives in a small town, in which his patients are mysteriously dying of an unknown disease. Desperate for help, he enlists his mentor Sir James Forbes (Andre Morell). Together they discover that the dead are coming back to life, and that if they dont stop this evil their loved ones may be next.
Sir James travels in a coach with his daughter Sylvia (Diane Clare) to the town after deciding to help Thompson out. On the way there they encounter a group of young men hunting a fox. When asked what direction it went Sylvia lies, which has some drastic consequences for her later that evening. When they arrive at the Thompson residence they not only discover that Alice (Jaqueline Pearce), the doctors wife, is looking pale and haggard; they also come to find out that the villagers are dying in an unexplainable way. Later that night Sylvia sees Alice leaving the house, so she decides to follow her. Alice meets a tragic end, while Sylvia is held captive by those young men she lied to earlier. Squire Clive Hamilton (John Carson), whose house she is at, rescues her and lets her go. It is later discovered that a villagerÆs dead brother is really alive, and that corpses are being stolen from graves. Thompson and Sir James find out who is behind this evil, and they know that if they donÆt stop it that SylviaÆs life will be in danger.
First, I am going to have to tell you that the zombies that were in this movie were not of the variety that shuffle around eating brains. Rather, they were of the kind created by a voodoo ceremony. This did not disappoint me at all, because they actually looked dead. Their skin was grey and peeling and they had that vacant zombie stare. One thing that really suprised me about this movie were the sexual overtones that it contained. When Sylvia was being held at the SquireÆs house against her will, by his buddies, you get the feeling that they were going to take turns raping her. This was because they drew cards to see who got to go first. Of course, they movie doesnÆt mention the word rape; however, they imply it by the way that they had the bullies leer at her. Also, there was a scene in which a male character tied up a woman to a slab of stone, and it really looked like he was about to kiss her and perhaps molest her, but then the camera pans in another direction and the scene ends. Sometimes the suggestion of an act can be more tantalizing than the actual act itself. This was pretty heavy stuff for a movie of those times, and it makes me wonder if they censored those parts for American audiences.
This movie was directed by Peter Gilling and it was shot in a typical Hammer fashion; slow and deliberate. There was a nightmare sequence that really stood out. He filmed it continuously while changing the angles, and that made the scene seem more frightening and vivid than if he had just shot it in a conventional style. He also directed the Hammer films The Reptile and The MummyÆs Shroud.
The acting was pretty top notch. John Carson, who played the Squire, stood out a bit more than the others though. He played him with an air of sexuality that really got my knickers in a twist. The only other actor that could pull something like this off is probably Sean Bean. Playing a character that is both seductive, yet who is hiding something unsettling, takes quite a bit of skill. Carson also starred in Taste The Blood Of Dracula and Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter. I also enjoyed Andre MurellÆs turn as Sir James. His interaction with Diane Clare (Sylvia) was fun to watch. If you are a fan of Hammer movies you may recognize Michael Ripper as Sergeant Swift. He was in over 20 Hammer movies and was a great character actor.
An interesting aspect of this film was the sets that were used. It was shot back to back with The Reptile, so if you have seen both films you will recognize quite a few things. The set that the sunken graveyard was located in can be seen in many of their films including Dracula: Prince Of Darkness and Frankenstein Created Woman.
This DVD is available from Anchor Bay, but it may be out of print.