Review Date: November 12, 1999
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 11/2/1999
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16:9 - yes
In the 1950's, 60's and 70's a British studio by the name of Hammer released numerous horror and sci-fi films. Hammer has had their hands in just about every possible horror story you could wish for - zombies, devil worshipping, werewolves, Frankenstein, The Mummy and more. Now, to the joy of numerous Hammer fans throughout the world, Anchor Bay has released a wide selection of Hammer films on DVD with hopefully even more to come in the future. Here we take a look at the Anchor Bay DVD release of Plague of the Zombies.
The film opens with some sort of black magic ritual being held. Several people are dressed up in masks and they're performing some sort of ceremony with voodoo dolls. The leader of the cult drips some blood onto the voodoo doll which causes a nearby woman to start bleeding from an existing cut in her wrist.
Sir James (Andre Morell), a professor at a University in London, receives a letter from one of his old pupils, Dr. Peter Tompson (Brook Williams), who is in dire need of the Professor's assistance. The small town in which the Peter practices in has fallen under a mysterious plague. 12 people have died in the small town within the last year and Peter cannot find the source of the problems. Not helping to solve the problem, the local townspeople refuse to let the Doctor perform any autopsies on the recently deceased.
Sir James immediately heads off to the small town accompanied by his own daughter, Sylvia (Diane Clare)/ Along the way they come across a group of hunters on horseback who are hunting down a fox. Sylvia, feeling compassion for the hunted fox, points the riders to the opposite direction that the fox was heading towards. Upon arrival at the village the Professor and his daughter come across yet another funeral for a recently deceased man. The riders, angry with Sylvia for pointing them in the wrong direction, ride into town at a gallop and cause the coffin containing the corpse to fall off a small bridge and break open, exposing the corpse to all.
Dr. Peter Tompson is relieved that the Professor has come to town and assist him with the dilemma. Peter's wife, Alice (Jacqueline Pearce), has been acting strange lately and has a strange cut on her wrist. They all decide it's best to keep a close eye on her. Sylvia sees Alice head off into town and decides to follow. Along the way Sylvia runs into the group of horseback riders who she let astray on their fox hunt. They force her onto one of the horses and lead her back to the home of Squire Clive Hamilton (John Carson). Clive Hamilton is the wealthiest man in town after he inherited his father's estate. He is has great control over the small town as he is the judge and jury to the town. Clive apologizes to Sylvia and begs her forgiveness. Upset with the situation, Sylvia agrees not to report her abduction to the authorities and heads home. Along her journey home she sees what appears to be the same dead man who was in the opened coffin, except now he is walking about and has Alice in his arms. The zombie flings Alice's body towards Sylvia. Horrified at the discovery of Alice being dead, Sylvia flees back towards Peter's home.
Peter and Sir James have decided to dig up a corpse from the grave to perform an autopsy. After finishing their dig two police officers discover them. Sir James manages to convince the officers not to arrest them after he forces open the coffin and they all see that there is no body inside. Because of the strange occurrences in town the officers agree to help them. Peter and the officers cover up the grave while Sir James heads back to Peter's home. Here he discovers Sylvia collapsed on the ground; she has fainted because of the extreme shock she has gone through.
Peter agrees to allow an autopsy to be performed on his wife's body. After performing the autopsy and burying the body, both Peter and Sir James agree that the body should be guarded so it is not stolen from the grave. They are distracted by a nearby struggle and go to investigate. When the return they find that the grave and coffin have been opened. Fortunately, they made it back in time before the grave robbers could take the body. They see Alice's body go through a transformation and soon it begins to rise from the grave. Sir James manages to destroy the zombie but they soon realize what has happened to all the other missing bodies in the cemetery, and this validates Sylvia's sighting of a walking dead man. This town is being plagued by ZOMBIES!!! Realizing that Sylvia is beginning to act strangely as Alice first did, Sir James and Peter are determined to validate their suspicions on who they suspect is behind all this and stop them before it's too late.
What a GREAT movie this was. I must say, I'm new to Hammer horror but from what I've seen so far I'm very impressed. With The Plague of the Zombies we get a nice, chilling horror film that managed to delivery a great story and fairly good acting. The zombies were definitely creepy looking with their lifeless white eyes. One thing I don't like about most zombie movies is that the zombie really just look like normal living humans with some face paint thrown on. That's just not as effective for me. I really enjoy when they cover the eyes with all-white contacts to help take some more life out of the zombies. The graveyard scene where several zombies emerge from their graves was really cool. It managed to build up high tension, at least for me, and was fairly creepy as well.
Plague of the Zombies is presented in it's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16:9 enhanced for widescreen TVs. Anchor Bay really did a terrific job on this one. The transfer is superb. The colors are well balance throughout the film; blacks were solid. There were a few scratches and blemishes that appeared but nothing severe and you'll have to keep close observation to even notice the one or two times they appear. Anchor Bay has really done an superb job improving their DVD quality and Plague of the Zombies is just another perfect example of that.
Plague of the Zombies contains mono sound. Dialogue and musical score sounded terrific; no hisses or pops heard at all. I really enjoyed the score on this film. It really helped to build the tension I thought.
Not exactly a full blown special edition we get with this DVD. However, I think Hammer fans, especially newer ones like myself will really enjoy the "World of Hammer" episode titled "Mummies, Werewolves and the Living Dead". There are brief plot summaries and scenes for these Hammer films:
- The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974)
- The Mummy (1959)
- The Mummy's Shroud (1967)
- Captain Clegg (1962)
- The Curse of Mummy's Tomb (1964)
- Curse of the Werewolf (1961)
- Blood From the Mummy's Tomb (1971)
- Plague of the Zombies (1965)
This episode was about 20 minutes. I enjoyed it quite a bit and it definitely left me wanting to see more Hammer horror, which I look forward to doing. Veteran fans of Hammer may not enjoy it as much as all it's really doing is previewing several Hammer films. Plague of the Zombies DVD Menu screenshot
[Full View - 93 kb]
Also included on the DVD is a theatrical trailer and a combo trailer with Dracula: Price of Darkness.
Buy this NOW! Great film with a great story, good acting and good effects. What more can you ask for? Well, I suppose gore hounds may not be satisfied by this film. Anyone who enjoys a creepy story and doesn't necessarily require tons of gore should definitely like this film. Some more extras would've been nice but that's a minor complaint. Great job overall by Anchor Bay!
Movie - A-
Image Quality - A-
Sound - B
Supplements - B
- Running time - 1 hour 30 minutes
- Not Rated
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- English, French dialogue
- Mono sound
- "World of Hammer" episode titled "Mummies, Werewolves and the Living Dead".
- Theatrical trailer
- Theatrical combo trailer with Dracula: Price of Darkness.