A couple (Ray Lovelock and Cristina Galbo) travelling along the English countryside stop to get directions from a pair of Ministry of Agriculture workers who are testing an experimental device designed to drive crop-damaging insects into killing each other. While they plan their next stop, a man who has been dead for several days attacks--to be followed shortly thereafter by a full-scale zombie invasion--which could very well be a result of the agriculturist's distribution of ultrasonic radiation. A macabre, atmospheric Spanish-Italian co-production featuring extremely convincing performances and a haunting score by Giuliano Sorgini. The second half of the film contains enough gut-munching gore scenes to satisfy most horror fans, leading to an unexpected and eerie finale.
One of the best zombie shockers of the 1970s, this Spanish-Italian coproduction (also known as The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue
and Don't Open the Window
, among other titles) is a real international affair. Inspired by George Romero's genre-shattering American hit Night of the Living Dead
, it was shot in England by a Spanish director with a largely British cast, and supplemented by Spanish zombies and American character actor Arthur Kennedy as a bitter Irish police detective (with only a hint of a brogue). He's investigating a sudden rash of violent murders (the work of Satanists, he's convinced) and closes in on a pair of newcomers to the sleepy Northern England town, longhaired antique dealer Ray Lovelock and his nervous traveling companion Christine Galbó. Only they know the real culprits: newly deceased corpses, revived by agricultural experiments in ultrasonic radiation that are also turning newborns into vicious little monsters. Director Jorge Grau delivers all the stumbling zombies and gory flesh feasts you could hope for in a 1974 movie, but more importantly he creates the rare zombie thriller that manages to be both scary and smartly done. Some of the twists are a bit more far-fetched than others (why does dabbing blood on the eyes of long-dead cadavers magically bring them to life, and how would a zombie even know to try?), but it's a minor quibble in the face of the startling blood frenzy and Grau's satisfying dark dramatic twists.
The DVD also features an introduction and a 20-minute interview with Grau ("I hope you will suffer profoundly," he jokes in the opening), as well as a gallery of posters and stills, TV ads, and radio spots. --Sean Axmaker