THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES –Underappreciated Hammer
Mr. E Horror - wrote on 08/29/09
This little gem from 1966 seems to have fallen by the wayside in the Hammer oeuvre. By today’s standards, it is quite dated, although I suspect it was in its own time. It is a period piece set in the English countryside in the 1800s where citizens of a small village are dying mysterious deaths. Granted, this zombie flick recycles the then overused Afro-Caribbean voodoo zombie–Romero’s zombies created by some unknown malevolence from our culture have not yet been created, or at least not in any film with wide viewership. The film opens to a strange dark room holding voodoo dolls and black men playing conga drums, presumably to generate the power needed for the voodoo rites to work.
Our protagonist, an old doctor who lives alone with his comely, young daughter is beckoned to visit an old student of his where the villagers are dropping like flies from an unknown cause. What makes this film worthwhile is not the story, not the acting or the characterization; it’s not even the gore. The visual aspect of the film offers up a very intriguing, yet suffocating ambience. It strikes that almost unnameable balance that really captivates, transporting you–or at least me–into the countryside which is in fact just Bray Studios in Berkshire. It doesn’t disappoint.