Monday, 14 September 2015
The Plague of the Zombies (1966)
"I should have drowned you at birth!"
"Thank you, father!"
Interesting that this enjoyable Hammer romp is pre-George A. Romero, if only just. But it's fascinating to see that, as late as 1966, zombies were still very much associated in popular culture with their Haitian origins. Thus we have voodoo dolls, and a rather incongruous-looking Haitian butler in a Cornwall country home. It's striking to see the negative portrayal of voodoo here, though: it's referred to, in Christian terms, as "witchcraft".
It's also amusing to reflect on how class-ridden the society in this film is. The baddie is the local squire who, naturally, firmly rules the village. Meanwhile our delightfully grumpy hero, Andre Morell's splendid Sir James, is a posh medical professor to whom everyone defers and whom all working class characters call "Sir". He even gets essentially let off when caught grave robbing by the fuzz because of how posh he is.
It's amusing to see a very young Jacqueline Pearce here. Servalan, it seems, was a Victorian/Edwardian zombie before she rose in the ranks of the Federation.
This is peak Hammer by numbers, but peak Hammer by numbers is a great way to spend ninety minutes. I enjoyed this film hugely.