LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE
THE LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE, Dir. Jorge Grau, Italy/Spain/UK, 93 min. 1974
When George A. Romeros landmark NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was released, it wasnt followed by a swarm of undead cash-ins and rips-offs, unlike what happened with DAWN OF THE DEAD ten years later. In fact, only one film dared to rise from that grave: Jorge Graus THE LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE.
A Spanish/Italian co-production that was shot in England, MORGUE stars Italian actor Ray Lovelock (FIDDLER ON THE ROOF) as George, a hippie biker en route to the Lake District, who veers off course when his motorcycle collides with Ednas (played by Cristina Galbó) Mini Cooper. Undeterred, George demands a ride to his destination; Edna agrees, but first must make a pit stop to visit her troubled sister.
While waiting on Edna to finish her visit, George notices several men from the Ministry of Agriculture using an experimental ultrasonic radiation machine to keep insects away from crops. Of course, it also has one tiny side effect: it raises the dead.
When the zombies strike and murder Ednas sister, local law enforcement lead by the completely fascist, anti-hippie Inspector (played with over-the-top gusto by Arthur Kennedy) emphatically does not buy the dead-returning-from-their-graves explanation hes given. Instead, he places the blame squarely on George.
With the radiation continually being pumped, the dead keep rising, and as they kill, they continue to add to their ranks. With no one believing George and Edna, they must try to face the growing army of the undead on their own.
Like NIGHT and its boundary-pushing violence before it, Grau brought on Italian special effects wizard Giannetto De Rossi to craft some truly gruesome effects. De Rossi not only created many gory set pieces, but also fashioned the memorable zombies that inhabit the English countryside, set to a groovy, psychedelic score by Giuliano Sorgini. A few years later, De Rossi would go on to team up with Italian horror legend Lucio Fulci and raise the bar with a whole new level of splatter and visceral violence in the zombie genre.
With at least 15 alternate titles including LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE, DONT OPEN THE WINDOW, and the bizarre variation BREAKFAST AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE, Graus zombies walked into theatrical success wherever they feasted. Beyond Fest is pleased to unveil the West Coast premiere of Synapse Films brand new 4K restoration of one of the greatest zombie films ever to shuffle onto celluloid. -James Branscome
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