The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue

10/08/2018 08:01

Film: The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (No profanar el sueño de los muertos)

Year: 1974

Director: Jorge Grau

Writer: Sandro Continenza and Marcello Coscia

Starring: Cristina Galbó, Ray Lovelock and Arthur Kennedy



This was a film that I was turned on to from one of my favorite podcasts when they did a best of the 1970’s list. This came up as one of the 10 best from 1974, so I put it on my list to check it out. The official synopsis for this film is a cop chases two hippies suspected of a series of Manson family-like murders; unbeknownst to him, the real culprits are the living dead, brought to life with a thirst for human flesh by a chemical pesticides being used by area farmers.

Now I do have to start off stating that his synopsis is a little bit misleading. There is a man from London who is heading up to sell some artifacts to a local shop. He is George Meaning (Ray Lovelock). He takes his motorcycle when he encounters a woman at a gas station, Edna Simmonds (Cristina Galbó). She accidentally backs into his motorcycle. It needs repairs that would be finished until Monday. To make up for it, he gets into her car and drives them to where they are going, as they are close. I do have to point out, George is a jerk here. He has the right to be mad, but he literally tells Edna what they are going to do and she puts up no fight whatsoever.

They come to a crossroads and he decides to go his way, but she freaks out. She is going up to see her sister and she has to get there as soon as they can. They are at a brief impasse, because what he needs to do is time sensitive too. He gives in and goes to drop her off. I also found this odd, but she is going to let this man she doesn’t know borrow her car. I guess it was a different time.

She isn’t completely sure where to go so they stop off for directions. They end up finding this experiment going on where they are using sound vibrations and radiation instead of pesticides. This bothers George and he gets into it with the group conducting this experiment. Back at the car, Edna is attacked by a man who is soaking wet and he is a zombie. George and one of the men come back as she is fleeing, but they don’t see anyone. There is a joke that she saw the ghost of a local tramp who drowned, Guthrie Wilson (Fernando Hilbeck).

That night her sister’s husband is murdered by Guthrie. The inspector (Arthur Kennedy) believes it was his wife, Katie (Jeannine Mestre) did it. He also thinks that George and Edna are in on it. No one believes Edna, until George has a run in with the zombies as well. Guthrie is able to turn others who have recently died into one of the living dead. It becomes a race to stop the zombies while the police are after George and Edna.

Something I did enjoy was the underlying theme of protecting the environment and how experiments can hurt the ecological balance of the Earth. That ends up being the way these dead come back. It is crazy this film came out in 1974 and we are still dealing with issues like this some 40+ years later. I am a firm believer in science, but there has to be testing to ensure things don’t hurt the environment.

What I found interesting about this film is that is does get right into it. It’s pretty early on that Guthrie attacks. The pacing did have some issues for me though. We get long stretches without anything happening. This is frustrating at times, since the zombies are actually really good. I did also have issues that in order to build the story and suspense, the Guthrie doesn’t attack. I think this is a bit of trappings that we see in the Lucio Fulci Gates of Hell trilogy, the zombies don’t follow their own rules. As there are more of them, they do, but I don’t buy Guthrie not going after those early on when they appear. There are also issues where a car is traveling one place, but Guthrie seems to teleport there.

The setting of the film was something I needed to touch on. I thought it looked amazing with the hills and I also find it interesting, because it builds on the suspense, since they are pretty isolated. Once we hit the climax to this film, the pacing does seem to right itself as well to a satisfying conclusion to the film.

As for the acting in the film, I thought it was solid. Galbó was solid as the lead. I didn’t like that she got bossed around like she does for a good portion of the film. I do think that was partially due to the times and how it was written. She does show a lot of good fear though. Lovelock was solid as well even though he is a real jerk. I do like that he does embody that hero as the film progresses. Kennedy is also quite hard, but I thought it adds to an interesting dynamic. He believes in what is real and what he can see. He thinks that Galbó and Lovelock are the criminals and will stop at nothing to get them. The zombies also looked really good in this film and I like how they were slow-moving. I do have to point out; they were almost running in one of the hospital scenes which I didn’t like. It doesn’t ruin anything though.

Something that was great about the films was the effects. I like that upon Martin’s (José Lifante) death we hear that all of his bones in his midsection were broken. We see that they do eat their victims so that was why everything was broken. These zombies do possess super strength, which can be inconsistent. I did love that we get a Night of the Living Dead scene of the zombies eating people, just in color. It looked quite real as did most of the rest of the effects. They were done practically which I loved and it showed in this film.

The score of the film really didn’t stand out to me. It didn’t take me out of any scenes, so that is really the bigger part here. I do know that they use the radio at one point to listen about ecological problems due to chemicals and experiments. I thought that was an interesting way of introducing that angle as well as getting George’s feelings on it.

Now with that said, I really enjoyed this film. I thought the ecological angle was interesting and something that is still relevant today. The zombies look good and as does the gore. I thought the rest of the story was fine aside from having the zombies not attacking like they should. It is a good move that they can’t be killed by destroying the brain, but needing to be burned. The acting is fine and despite a little stretch in the middle of the film, the pacing is as well. Score for the film didn’t really stand out, but it doesn’t hurt the film. Overall I’d say this is a solid zombie film and one that not a lot of people know about. I’d say this film is above average.


My Rating: 7 out of 10