The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue (1974)

The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue is a great example of a sadly over-looked zombie movie. What should rightfully be a classic is often dismissed as a derivative undead fable with poor dubbing and while there is some truth to the latter, the former accusation is mostly unfounded. Filmed in Rome, Madrid, Manchester and its surrounding areas, it’s largely a regretfully forgotten film that deserves to be rediscovered and find its modern audience.

George is an antiques dealer on his way to deliver an artefact; Edna is a young woman driving to visit her drug-addicted sister. On their journey they meet and through unforeseen circumstances are forced into sharing Edna’s car. Before long, Edna is attacked by what appears to be a re-animated corpse and later, they discover that her sister’s husband has been killed. Putting the pieces together, they slowly realise that the dead may be coming back to life in order to kill and eat the living. Not only that but they’re being tailed by a policeman who suspects them of committing the murders themselves.

Ray Lovelock and Christina Galbo make for a lovably flawed and interesting on-screen pairing. The fact that their circumstantial, tentative relationship is believable is core to the film’s success. Some of the other actors don’t quite pull their weight and some of the dubbed accents are questionable but these are minor complaints in an otherwise entertaining film.

The story is solid enough, although not necessarily particularly original, it’s saved from being uninventive by some fascinating little touches, such as a zombie infant, an environmental angle and some straight-talking, larger than life characters.

The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue is equal parts dated and fresh. Thanks to some nifty digital restoration, its colourful, crisp look belies its 36 years, although some of the dialogue has aged badly and gives it away. There’s some quality misogyny, a bit of casual homophobia and a startling lack of professionalism on the part of the police, all of which are present in movies today but are presented in such a manner here that is very much ‘of its time’. This doesn’t necessarily aggravate though, rather it gives the film a sort of vintage charm.

The gore effects are commendably achieved for a film of this age and budget, most don’t ever quite look as though they could have been real but are still vastly preferable to today’s over-use of CGI and shoddy computer assisted effects. The zombie make-up is subtle but the use of red contact lenses and slow, almost mechanical movements gives the film a few genuinely chilling moments.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m from Manchester, or just that I’m a sucker for a good zombie film but I’ll always have a soft spot for The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue. Recommended.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

3 Comments on “The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue”

  1. Jon Walmsley says:

    I love this movie, it has everything you want in a Zombie film. Great zombies, decent gore and the stupidest range of accents known to man.

    Glad that you’re a fan too. Although it’s actual link to Manchester is tenuous at best. There is no Morgue or any of Manchester in the film at all, as far as I remember.

    • Sarah Law says:

      Some of the external shots are definitely Manchester but that’s about all. If memory serves, some of it was shot in Yorkshire as well but I could be wrong about that!

      Still, awesome film, it’s a firm favourite :)

    • Jamie Carruthers says:

      Yeah, the external hospital shots are filmed in Cheadle just down the road. They haev gutted out Barnes Hospital now, but last year the outside was still standing proud. It’s still a pretty dark looking building.

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