Blu-ray Review: THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES

THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES was directed by John Gilling from a screenplay by Peter Bryan and stars André Morell, Diane Clare, John Carson, Alex Davion, Jacqueline Pearce and Brook Williams. The music was composed by James Bernard.

In a remote 19th-century Cornish village, an evil presence lurks within the darkness of the witching hour. A mysterious plague relentlessly consumes lives at an unstoppable rate. Unable to find the cause, Dr. Peter Tompson enlists the help of his mentor, Sir James Forbes. Desperate to find an antidote, they instead find inexplicable horror: empty coffins with the diseased corpses missing! Following a series of strange and frightening clues, they discover a deserted mine where they discover a world of black magic and a doomed legion of flesh-eating slaves … the walking dead!

A mysterious plague quickly spreads throughout a small Cornish village with no known cure. Peter Tompson (Brook Williams), the local doctor, sends for help and this is where medical professor Sir James Forbes (Andre Morell) and his beautiful daughter Sylvia (Diane Clare) travel to the area to see if they can help with the deadly outbreak. It doesn’t take long for the two visitors to rub a few people the wrong way and realize there’s something sinister at play.

What happens is, they make a shocking discovery that there’s empy coffins all over the place and Squire Clive Hamilton (John Carson) is the sinister figure behind it all. But why? Their investigation leads them to a revelation that the dead are being reanimated into zombies by the Squire who’s using them to do his evil bidding as well as slave labor in an old tin mine. Sylvia gets in a little too deep with the sleazy Squire but her father and a few allies come to the rescue where they ultimately put an end to Hamilton’s game of voodoo and the rise of his undead army.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features some alternate artwork and movie credits so you have your pick of which side you’d like to use as the front cover. The Blu-ray disc also features some artwork that matches the front cover. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, I had a blast watching The Plague of the Zombies which ended up being another first time watch for me. I love these old Hammer period pieces because they have their own atmospheric style. This 1966 zombie thriller came along a few years before Night of the Living Dead took the world by storm so it’s neat to see how other filmmakers and studios handled the subgenre before it went mainstream. The story has this creepy voodoo vibe going on and the outcome is some old school horror by the Hammer gang. I have mixed feelings about the zombies because a few of them looked absolutely terrifying while others looked almost silly. So, some of the make-up effects looked decent for the time and some of it pretty cheesy as you’d expect. John Gilling delivered a really fun horror movie that features a great cast that’s accompanied by a fitting score by the legendary James Bernard. The Plague of the Zombies makes its Blu-ray debut in the U.S. on January 15th thanks to the always awesome Scream Factory.

Distributor: Scream Factory

Run Time: 91 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.66:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Subtitles: English

Special Features: The extras include two new audio commentary tracks, restored audio, a classic World of Hammer episode, a vintage making of featurette, restoration comparison reel, three theatrical trailers and a still gallery.

  • NEW Audio Commentary with filmmaker Constantine Nasr and author/film historian Steve Haberman
  • NEW Audio Commentary with author/film historian Troy Howarth
  • NEW Restored Audio
  • World of Hammer – Mummies, Werewolves & The Living Dead (24:55)
  • Raising the Dead: The Making of The Plague of the Zombies (35:27)
  • Restoration Comparison (03:37)
  • Theatrical Trailers (07:25)
  • Still Gallery (07:10)
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