Thursday, October 20, 2011


In a small Cornish village in the late 19th century, healthy people are dying and the young doctor (Brook Williams) can't explain why, partly because the townspeople won't allow autopsies. Williams' mentor (Andre Morell) arrives from London to help. It turns out that the local squire (John Carson) and his fox-hunting buddies are using voodoo to kill off folks and bring them back from the dead as zombies to work in his mine. The young doctor's wife winds up as one of the undead, and Morrell's daughter (Diane Clare) is put in danger by the studly Alex Davion, the squire's chief underling. There is some class consciousness here, as the townspeople and the doctors are all intimidated by, and to a large degree, under the thumb of, Carson and Davion, so the script is a tad more serious than some of the other Hammer horrors of the era, but the proceedings of the first half are rather slow. Things pick up later with a creepy scene of masses of the undead rising from their graves, and a decapitation scene that is fairly explicit for its day. The plot structure is right out of Dracula, with good doctors (whose women are in danger) doing "wild work" to get rid of the villain, though in this case not a supernatural creature but a mortal using magic. The voodoo rite scenes are effective, and the actors all adequate, with Morrell at the top of the lot, and Davion giving an interesting sexy swagger to his Renfieldish role. [TCM]

No comments: