Neil Young’s Film Lounge – The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue
THE LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE
alternative titles include : No Profanar el Sueno de los Muertos (Spain) / Non si Deve Profanare il Sonno dei Morti (Italy) / Dont Open the Window (USA) / Let Sleeping Corpses Lie
Spain/Italy 1974 : Jorge Grau : 93 mins
ONE-LINE REVIEW: Cheerfully brazen Euro-gore twist on Night of the Living Dead makes the most of some remote English locations, but is let down by a heavy-handed political subtext not to mention the heros silly dubbed voice.
Apparently one of only three feature-films ever made with Manchester in the title, Graus grisly eco-fable is by far the best known (hands up anyone who’s seen the silent Manchester Man adaptation or Malay comedy From Jemapoh to Manchester.) Revered by cultists as the first horror movie made in stereo sound, it was even banned for a time during the video-nasty scare though conspiracy theorists suspect this more to do with its presentation of north-western cops as fascist brutes, than the brief interludes of hard-core gore.
Sadly, there’s no Manchester Morgue in Manchester Morgue in fact, there’s hardly any Manchester at all. The first shots show our hippy-antique-dealer hero George (Lovelock) in his boutique just around from the Cathedral, then he roars off on his motorbike down what looks like John Dalton Street. After this, we explore some obscure corners of Cumbria and Derbyshire. The Peak District masquerades as the Lakes, which is where George discovers a Ministry of Agriculture radio-wave experiment designed to eliminate pesky crop-gnawing insects with the unfortunate side-effect of reviving recently deceased humans as cannibal zombies.
Its a brazen rip-off of George Romeros Night of the Living Dead, of course, but the Spanish director make effectively spooky use of some back-of-beyond locales, and the zombie attacks are still pretty strong stuff. Theres also an intriguing (if heavy-handed) political angle – Grau was working under Francos dictatorship, which perhaps explains why the government and police, not the hapless, flesh-tearing nosferatu, emerge as the real villains of the piece.
click here for a much longer look at The Manchester Morgue
15th July 2002
(seen on DVD, 9th July 2002)
by Neil Young