Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (AKA The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue) 1974

This flick was a nice surprise. It begins with art dealer and hipster douche bag George (dubbed “MacDouche” for this viewing) heading out of his gallery with an old artifact. He leaves the comfy confines of Manchester and ends up getting his motorcycle damaged at a country service station by a fellow traveler’s car – driven by the lovely Edna. Despite MacDouche being a complete jackass about the situation (with an accent and attitude reminiscent of Alex and his Droogs), Edna agrees to take him to his destination, although they soon negotiate going to her destination first. As it turns out, Edna’s on a trip from London to visit her brother-in-law and her sister, who’s a junky and is clinic bound.

On their way, they ask directions to her sister’s abode at a local farmhouse, where some radical, new radioactive pesticide treatments are occurring (see where this is going? I thought so). While MacDouche is corresponding with the locals, Edna is attacked by a red-eyed hobo with star-shaped pupils. She escapes, but her story is disbelieved by MacDouche and the locals, even though she describes perfectly a resident who recently drowned. Meanwhile, Edna’s sister and brother-in-law end up being attacked by the recently deceased, red-eyed hobo. MacDouche and Edna arrive to catch dead-hobo-dude in their headlights, but are too late to save the bro-in-law.

Law enforcement arrives on the scene, and MacDouche, Edna, and her sister are soon suspects because they’re apparently a bunch of drug-crazed, faggot hippies in the eyes of the rightwing authorities. This might be the turning point in the film, the “save the cat” moment where the viewer jumps on the Team MacDouche bandwagon, even though he’s been just a whiny bitch up until this point. Your instincts will lean toward opening up a can of whoop-ass on the whole lot of them, but MacDouche and Edna start taking matters into their own hands to solve the apparent zombie problem and clear their names, and they improvise admirably. They effectively use their hippie instincts and powers to steal the brother-in-law’s photo evidence of the fatal attack and discover the best way to dispose of these particular zombies is to destroy them with fire (fittingly, they light up with a surprising ease).

Unfortunately, neither of these eventualities provides evidence of their innocence. On the contrary, the burned corpses lead the paranoid authorities to further conclude that they’re dirty hippy SATANISTS. Additionally, displaying the ecological concern only a bleeding-heart lefty could possess, MacDouche figures out that the radioactive pesticide machine is causing the dead to reanimate (not only that, but the dead can reanimate each other by touching each others’ eyelids with blood – don’t ask, it’s a fucking zombie movie – just roll with it).

His anti-establishment protests are all for naught, though. No one believes you, hippie! In an exciting climax, Edna is snatched by the authorities and restrained to a bed in the hospital, allowing MacDouche to swoop in for a heroic rescue. Sadly, he arrives just moments after she and her sister have been instant-zombied. He torches the lot of them, but is gunned down by his adversary, the fascist police chief. Happily, the police chief – in his moment of glory for allegedly clearing the land of drugged out, Satanist hippies – soon falls prey to a Tales from the Crypt-style demise (a nicely placed moment of schadenfreude for the viewer).

Despite my irreverent take on it, I really enjoyed this film. It was well-paced and beautifully shot, capturing the picturesque English countryside vividly and delivering some creepy and suspenseful scenes. It’s worth noting that the zombies in this film – much quicker and stronger than the George Romero zombies and sporting bloodshot eyes – anticipated the ‘rage zombies’ of films like 28 Days Later. All in all, a great entry to the overstuffed – and often mediocre – zombie film catalog.

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