The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (1974) (Synapse Films) (BLU-RAY REVIEW)

The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (1974) (Synapse Films) (BLU-RAY REVIEW)
DIRECTED BY: Jorge Grau
STARRING: Cristina Galbó, Ray Lovelock, Arthur Kennedy
RATED: UR/REGION A/1:85/1080P/NUMBER OF DISCS 1
AVAILABLE FROM Synapse Films

A cop chases two young people visiting the English countryside, suspecting them of a local murder; unbeknownst to him, the real culprits are the living dead, brought to life with a thirst for human flesh by radiation being used by area farmers as a pesticide alternative. So let’s all give it a hand for actually giving us a solid idea as to why the dead are coming back! Also, going by the red eyes these zombies have, and the ones that people get when they are infected by a zombie, I’d bet this film was a major influence on more recent films such as 28 Days Later.

Now one thing to take into account while you watch this film in its opening moments is to just sit back and relax. Try not to get too distracted by our streaking hippie lady running across the street, and rest a sure that this is all leading someone even if it’s a little slow during the first half-hour or so. It’s during this time that we are introduced to our pals George and Edna, who are brought together by chance..or perhaps just pure bad luck. We join them as they try to find her sister, and along the way we find that there’s some nasty radiation going on, the town bum may be a zombie after drowning, and when people die nobody will believe that our leads are innocent due to our bullheaded S.O.B. of an authority figure hot on their trail. As a matter of fact, it’s during this time that we see little zombie action. Our leads get keen on what is up and of course, nobody believes them. They put together just what is going down in this town, and it’s not very bloody or action-packed but it’s oddly enough very interesting. It is however around our 50-minute mark when things get really interesting and things even begin to get a little gory. I’m also pleased to announce that things continue to remain good and bloody for the remainder of our film. It becomes a cat and mouse game with George and the cops, and it just keeps getting tenser and tenser until the very end as we also continue to toss more gore and zombies into the mix. It really is delightful, it’s different as well from average zombie films, but it’s highly amusing.

Now of course the ending is full of all sorts of win (can we use “win” as a term to describe something now?), and it’s both rather morbid and even rewarding at the very very end. While things could perhaps have been a tad more upbeat, or maybe even a tad more sinister, I felt like it’s a film that feels really complete when it wraps. You know, usually, you have films that you just guess are purely running towards another sequel. But here it’s an odd finish due to the fact that while there is stuff there for a possible sequel, it actually feels complete regardless. So to sum everything up, it’s not a Dawn of the Dead and it also falls short of a Zombie or Return of the Living Dead. But this film (use whatever title you want to use for it), is far better than most zombie films you will find out there from any period you want to look at. And just when you thought this movie couldn’t look any better Synapse goes and trumps Blue Underground’s old Blu-ray. Add that in some new stuff they tossed on and the only complaint I really have is that they didn’t use the “Let Sleeping Corpses Lie” title for the movie’s release. Something we haven’t seen done since the old DVDs.

Extras

  • Audio Commentary By Critic Troy Howarth
  • Audio Commentary By Authors Nathaniel Thompson and Bruce Holecheck
  • Jorge Grau: Catalonia’s Cult Film King (88:58 in HD) – This extensive feature-length documentary explores the life and films of director Jorge Grau.
  • The Scene of the Crime – Giannetto De Rossi in Discussion from Manchester (15:24 in HD)
  • Giannetto De Rossi – Q&A at the Festival of Fantastic Films, UK (42:29 in HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (03:51 in HD)
  • TV Spots (00:57 in SD)
  • Radio Spots (02:07 in HD)

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