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Plague of the Zombies, The (Hammer 1966, Andre Morell, Jacqueline Pearce)

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Considered to be one of John Gilling’s best films, this Hammer horror is one of the company’s few takes on the zombie legend. Sir James Forbes (Andre Morell), professor of medicine at London University, is called to a 19th century Cornish village by his former pupil Dr Peter Thompson (Brook Williams) to investigate a mysterious malady that has overrun the village.

Arriving with his daughter Sylvia (Diane Clare), Forbes finds Thompson’s wife Alice (Jacqueline Pearce) unwell, the villagers cowed and the countryside ruled by squire Clive Hamilton (John Carson). Forbes and Thompson try to uncover the cause of the strange deaths but, on opening the grave of one of the recently dead, they find it empty. Then Alice is discovered dead and an autopsy reveals her blood is no longer human while a villager swears he has seen his dead brother alive. Slowly, the pair realise that Hamilton is using voodoo to create zombies to work his local tin mine but eradicating him and his creatures is no easy task…

Gilling’s strength is to balance the attractive rural locations with scenes of dread, with the rotting undead rising from their graves is particularly effective and the staging of the traditional fiery climax suitably thrilling. Makeup by Hammer regular Roy Ashton created particularly revolting zombies and the score by another Hammer regular, James Bernard, all add to a very British horror film that still manages to rival Hollywood’s efforts.

production details
UK | Hammer | 91 minutes | 1966

Director: John Gilling
Writers: Peter Bryan, John Elder

cast
André Morell as Sir James Forbes
Brook Williams as Dr. Peter Tompson
Diane Clare as Sylvia Forbes
John Carson as Squire Clive Hamilton
Jacqueline Pearce as Alice Mary Tompson
Michael Ripper as Sergeant Jack Swift
Roy Royston as Vicar
Alexander Davion as Denver
Marcus Hammond as Tom Martinus
Dennis Chinnery as Constable Christian
Louis Mahoney as Servant
Ben Aris as John Martinus
Jerry Verno as Landlord
Jolyon Booth as Coach Driver
Tim Condren as Young Blood
Bernard Egan as Young Blood
Norman Mann as Young Blood
Francis Willey as Young Blood
Jim O’Brady as Pub Patron
Ernie Rice as Man in Pub
Roy Lansford as Man at Funeral
Fred Wood as Lone Villager on steps
Peter Diamond as Zombie
Reg Harding as Zombie
Keith Peacock as Zombie
Del Watson as Zombie

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