The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue / Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974)

AKA Non Si deve profance il sonno dei morti, Don’t Open the Window, the film officially has 15 titles, so take your pick..

Director: Jorge Grau
Starring: Ray Lovelock. Arthur Kennedy, Cristina Galbo. Spain/Italy. 1h 35

There’s a subtle Giallo twist to this unusual but gripping science fiction zombie flick, undead, mystery, giallo, car crash, sci fi horror, pesticides, it’s got so much going on but all to the backdrop of the gorgeous English countryside and littered with the creeping dead.

The film focuses on two protagonists who until their vehicle crash led two totally different lives, there’s Edna (Galbó) Who’s trying to visit her family and the brash George (Lovelock) a hot tempered and pushy individual but his drive really powers the action.

Drawing on the 70’s craze for zombies combined with hysterical science fears from the previous decades there’s a delicate blend of horror and in a chemical warfare kinda way.
George (Lovelock) is the ultimate horror hero,a kind of John Mcclane of the Lake District. He’s taken the day off to spend some time helping friends when his day goes from bad to worse, after getting his bike totalled he ends up being accused of murder by the police and then being chased by the living dead, while uncovering the source of the outbreak he then becomes a true hero. Always pissed off and brave he’s really someone who you want in your corner.

The chalk and cheese duo, do manage to really come together in order to work out what’s really happening in the Lake District. Despite the heavy police presence the undead do seem to be running circles around the detectives

Overall the film feels cold and bleak with a sensible cross over from horror to sci fi and back again. Blending in creatures of the night along with an active investigation. There’s heavy doses of old school gothic horror, that would make any hammer horror fan quivery with joy, as the dead creep out from their crypts but their devastating kill spree is much more gore filled and bloody as they rip through guts and chow down.

The Italian influence is strong here, for “reasons” the film was set in England, but it’s such a Giallo feeling horror. There’s leather  and long corridors with crazy shadows but nothing to psychedelic, a story line that sees a man struggling to solve a murderous mystery while not trying to be arrested by the police who are also on the same case,  when you put the pieces together it’s a zombie horror gillao, sadly there are few, actually I think this is it.. And that’s a shame as the cult following of this intrepid movie

For thrills and chills the movie really does get under the skin, although while I always thoroughly enjoy watching I do find it’s a tad bit too long, The plot unravels itself at a steady pace and you can be sure of a ghoul to wander in at the right time.

Even though the movie is damned fine, I feel that opulent soundtrack could have been bolstered by something a little more pounding and as driven as the lead.

Rating: 7

R: Nightmare City (1980), City of the Living Dead (1980), Return of the Blind Dead (1973)

L: A-Z of Zombie movies


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