LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE, THE (Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti) (Do Not Speak Ill of the Dead) (Let Sleeping Corpses Lie)

(director: Jorge Grau; screenwriters: Sandro Continenza/Marcello Coscia; cinematographer: Francisco Sempere; editors: Domingo García/Vincenzo Tomassi; music: Giuliano Sorgini; cast: Ray Lovelock (George), Christine Galbo (Edna Simmons), Arthur Kennedy (The Sergeant), Aldo Massasso (Kinsey), Giorgio Trestini (Craig), Roberto Posse (Benson), Jose Ruiz Lifante (Martin West), Jeannine Mestre (Katie West), Fernando Hilbeck (Guthrie), Vicente Vega (Dr. Duffield); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Edmondo Amati; Blue Underground; 1974-Spain/Italy-dubbed in English)

“It’s artfully atmospheric, capturing a nightmarish landscape in the idyllic English countryside.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This cult classic horror story is the best rip-off of the Night of the Living Dead (1968) I have come across. Spanish director Jorge Grau (“Blood and Passion”/”The Hunting Ground”/”Story of a Girl Alone”) does a masterful job at keeping it creepy, beautiful to look at and intelligent as a satire of the times (siding with hippies over their intolerant oppressors). It’s artfully atmospheric, capturing a nightmarish landscape in the idyllic English countryside. Writers Sandro Continenza and Marcello Coscia keep the dialogue fresh and provocative. Most of the cast is dubbed, but British actor Ray Lovelock and the American actor Arthur Kennedy are not, and that somehow even the dubbing job works effectively speaks volumes for the effort put in get even the smallest details right.

The art dealer hipster black leather jacketed Easy Rider biker George (Ray Lovelock) and the flustered pretty redhead Edna Simmons (Christine Galbo) are en route on the weekend from London to the remote North countryside (filmed in the Lake District). At a petrol stop, Edna accidentally backs into George’s motorcycle and causes enough damage to the wheel that he has to leave the vehicle in the garage for repairs until Monday. George gets a ride with Edna, who insists on visiting her married sister Katie (Jeannine Mestre) first before letting him have the car to visit his friends. Stopping off at a farm to get directions, they encounter an experimental crop-dusting machine from the Department of Agriculture that kills insects with ultrasonic radiation from a radius of up to five miles. While Edna stayed in the car as George asked for directions, a ghoulish figure with red eyes came out of the water and while slowly walking zombie style tried to attack Edna. Since he was not seen when George returned with the farmer, Edna’s story was not believed. But as soon as the travel companions arrive at Katie’s cottage, her seedy photographer husband Martin (Jose Ruiz Lifante) is crushed to death and cannibalized by the same ghoul that attacked Edna. The pair find it strange that this person is identified as Guthrie, a homeless man who died a week ago and was buried at the Manchester Cemetery. The crime is investigated by a hardnose, obtuse, fascist-like sergeant (Arthur Kennedy), who is a hippie hating right-winger at odds with a permissive society. The local tyrant lawman adamantly refuses to believe that story of a corpse coming back to life as a killer nor does he think anything of the farm machine causing a reaction in insects to infect them so they become the cause of the dead becoming zombies; instead the thick-headed cop relentlessly pursues the three out-of-towners as suspects, and becomes more convinced of their guilt upon discovering that Katie left London because she’s a heroin addict. When the couple visit the Manchester Cemetery to get answers, they are faced with fighting off a wave of cannibalistic zombies coming out of their graves and looking to feast on humans; they also have to run from the relentless brutal sergeant, who is trying to hunt them down as Manson-like Satanist murderers (the cops are seen as the greater enemies, as the hippie learns he can get rid of the “living dead” by burning them but has no answers for the narrow-minded fascistic police). As the deaths pile up, it leads to an unexpected conclusion that is gruesomely carried out.

No profanar el sueño de los muertos (1974)