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Jorge Grau
Cristina Galbó, Ray Lovelock, Arthur Kennedy
Writing Credits:
Sandro Continenza, Marcello Coscia

A new type of pest control reanimates the dead.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $34.95
Release Date: 6/7/2022

• Audio Commentary with Film Scholar Troy Howarth
• Audio Commentary with Film Historians Nathaniel Thompson and Bruce Holecheck
• “Catalonia’s Cult Film King” Documentary
• “The Scene of the Crime” Featurette
• Festival Q&A
• Trailers, TV Spots & Radio Spots


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The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue [Blu-Ray] (1974)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 8, 2022)

Given its title, one might assume 1974’s The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue offers a rock concert. Nope – its title instead goes down a literal path, as we find a zombie tale.

Also known as Let Sleeping Corpses Lie and some other monikers, Martin (José Lifante) keeps his troubled wife Katie (Jeannine Mestre) “prisoner” in an attempt to get her to break her addiction to heroin. When this doesn’t work, he plans to put her in a clinic, a move that Katie resists and resents.

As this drama mounts, a mysterious stranger arrives and brutally murders Martin. Katie tells this to the local police, but they suspect Katie’s visiting sister Edna (Cristina Galbó) and George (Ray Lovelock), a man she happened to meet during her trip.

Additional corpses start to appear, and this intensifies the urgency. Eventually it appears that the dead have returned to life and crave the taste of human flesh.

Well, yeah – that’s what we expect from zombie movies. It wouldn’t become much of a horror flick without those elements.

The question becomes whether or not Morgue manages to find much to do with its premise. Happily, it does, and it offers a richer than usual movie of this sort.

Some of that stems from the social commentary found in Morgue. Clearly a product of its time, the film reflects the cynicism of the era, and it also tosses out an obvious ecological message.

In lesser hands, these elements could seem heavy-handed and annoying. Instead, Morgue manages to keep both components as strong subtext but not so dominant that they feel forced or contrived.

Given the fact that so many mid-70s movies could seem smug and condescending, this seems like a minor miracle. Too many flicks like Silent Running and Soylent Green feel more like political screeds than stories.

That doesn’t turn into an issue with Morgue, as it never forgets its main purpose. While it tosses in deeper elements, one can easily ignore these and just enjoy it as a horror movie.

And a pretty solid horror movie at that. Morgue takes its time as a narrative, but that doesn’t make it slow or tedious.

Instead, Morgue builds in a deliberate and gradual way. It toys with the undead at its core and allows them to emerge in a natural manner that creates a mystery as much as a scarefest.

Of course, eventually Morgue goes for the gusto, so expect gore and violence in the third act. This feels like a good payoff, as the movie earns this climax.

Morgue keeps matters simple and tight. It delivers an effective variation on the zombie genre.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B+

The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer gave us a good representation of the source.

Overall delineation seemed good. Due to the nature of the photography, some mild softness occurred, but most of the film offered reasonable delineation and accuracy.

I saw no jaggies or shimmering, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also failed to appear, and with a prominent layer of grain, I didn’t suspect overuse of noise reduction.

Colors leaned toward a subdued natural feel. Though the hues didn’t impress, they felt positive for the image as intended.

Blacks were fairly deep, and shadows demonstrated reasonable clarity. Nothing here excelled, but this still seemed like a solid presentation given the nature of the original photography.

Remixed from the original monaural – which also appeared on the disc – the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 track worked surprisingly well. It used the spectrum in a mostly natural and engaging manner.

General atmosphere dominated, and these elements created a nice sense of place, as various effects manifested around the room. In addition, some components like cars moved in a fairly smooth manner.

Moody effects like wind popped up in logical spots, and the film’s spare score also created an appealing stereo presence. Though the track didn’t compete with modern efforts, it nonetheless formed a better than average soundfield for a mono remix.

Audio quality showed its age but still held up fairly well. Speech became the weakest link, partly due to some reedy lines. Looping also felt iffy as well, so the dialogue sounded less natural than I’d like.

The atmospheric score showed nice clarity, though, and effects appeared fairly natural and smooth, with only a little distortion on display at times. The soundtrack turned into a pleasant surprise.

A mix of extras pop up here, and we find two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from author/film scholar Troy Howarth, as he provides a running, screen-specific look at cast and crew, genre domains, and production notes.

Howarth virtually always provides strong commentaries, and this one proves no exception to that rule. He covers the movie well and makes this an informative track.

Next comes a commentary from film historians Nathaniel Thompson and Bruce Holecheck. Both sit together for their own running, screen-specific view of topics similar to those discussed by Howarth.

Inevitably, that means some redundant material. However, Thompson and Holecheck offer their own spin and deliver enough fresh material to turn this into a good complement to Howarth’s discussion.

Catalonia’s Cult Film King runs one hour, 28 minutes, 58 seconds. It offers notes from director Jorge Grau, academics Russ Hunter and Calum Waddell, authors/critics John Martin, Rachael Nisbet and Kim Newman, makeup artist Giannetto De Rossi, composer Giuliano Sorgini, and Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival deputy director Mike Hostench.

“King” examines Grau’s career, aspects of the Morgue production and the movie’s interpretation/legacy. Inevitably, some of this repeats from the commentaries, but “King” offers enough fresh material to merit a look.

Next comes The Scene of the Crime, a 15-minute, 24-second reel with De Rossi. Along with author/critic Eugenio Ercolani, he tells us about his career and his work on Morgue. De Rossi delivers some useful notes.

We get more from De Rossi via a Q&A at the UK Festival of Fantastic Films. With Ercolani as moderator, this piece goes for 42 minutes, 29 seconds and tells us additional details about his life and Morgue.

We get some repetition from “Crime” but De Rossi nonetheless manages a lot of fresh content, especially because the “Q&A” spends much more time with De Rossi’s non-Morgue efforts.

The disc ends with ads. We get the movie’s trailer as well as two TV spots and two radio spots.

With The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, we get a better than average zombie movie. The film mixes intriguing plot points and a good pace to turn into a winning and memorable experience. The Blu-ray offers positive picture and audio along with a nice array of bonus materials. Morgue holds up well after nearly 50 years.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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