By the mid-1960’s Hammer was in full swing pumping out a several horror movies a year. On top of their many many Frankenstein and Dracula movies, they also tackled mummies, more vampires, werewolves, aliens, mythological monsters and more. Zombies were a natural next step.
Zombies first hit the screen back in 1932’s awesome White Zombie. In that film an evil voodoo master has a horde of zombies at his disposal that he uses to work a sugar cane mill – cheap labour and all that. When Hammer decided to tackle the subject they went with the voodoo controlled version not the flesh-eating ghouls feasting on the living that George Romero would turn them into a few years later when he rewrote the genre with Night of the Living Dead.
Set during the late 1800’s a small town in the English countryside seems have been hit by a plague. Several members of the community of all died off lately and the town doctor (Brook Williams) is baffled. He calls in Sir James Forbes (André Morell) for help. Forbes is the town doctor’s mentor and Forbes and his daughter Sylvia (Diane Clare) quickly arrive in town. Forbes and the doctor decide to perform an autopsy on some the plague victims but find the coffins empty.
Further investigation leads Forbes to discovering several zombies wandering around near an abandoned mine on a local squire’s estate. Squire Clive Hamilton (John Carson) it seems has been practicing black voodoo magic and needs a cheap labour force for his mine. He’s also taken by Sylvia forcing Forbes and the town doctor to act fast if they are going to stop the zombies and the squire.
This a great horror movie. It’s stylish, creepy and couple scenes probably influenced George Romero with Night of the Living Dead. The movie isn’t as widely known about as some of Hammer’s other films but it deserves to be recognized as the great little film that it is.