Let Sleeping Corpses Lie
You lie down with corpses, you're going to get...uh...horrible diseases
“We're all automatons: each one of us is a slave to the basic instructions embedded deep within our brains, the instincts enshrined deep down in our DNA. Inexorable logics. Uncontrollable patterns in our behavior; tics and compulsions that we can't avoid; obsessive thought, violence, delusion, paranoia: we're all zombies!” Those are the lyrics to the song “Drive To Destruction” by the awesome British thrash metal/“Zombicore” band Send More Paramedics. Our friends “across the pond” sure do love their zombies. Whether it's 28 Days Later, Shaun Of The Dead, or the television series Dead Set, the UK has a solid history of making good zombie-related entertainment. Most of my examples, though are from the bast 15 years. I felt it was time to go back into horror's past and see a British zombie movie from an earlier time. Well, it's actually filmed in Italy and has mostly Italian actors, but it's supposed to take place in England, so we'll go with that.
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (also known as The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue and Don't Open The Window) is 1974 Spanish/Italian zombie movie set in the English countryside. The movie stars Ray Lovelock (Almost Human, Fiddler On The Roof) as George and Cristina Galbo (The House That Screamed, From Pink To Yellow) as Edna. On a trip to sell an antique statue, George's motorcycle is accidentally damaged by Edna. Edna gives him a ride to his destination, but insists on stopping at her sister's house first. They get lost on the way and George gets out of the car to ask some men for directions. Some of the men work for the Department of Agriculture who are using an experimental machine that uses ultra-sonic radiation to kill insects before they can destroy crops. While waiting by the car, Edna is attacked by a man who came out of the river, but he disappears before George returns. Meanwhile, Edna's sister Katie, a heroin addict, gets into a fight with her husband Martin and plans on killing him. Before she can complete her plan, she is attacked by the same man who attacked Edna. Katie escapes and runs to her husband who is then attacked by the man. Martin hits the man in the head several times with a rock, but he cannot be stopped and the man, now revealed to be zombie, kills Martin. Edna and George arrive in time to see Katie frantically running from the scene. The police sergeant (Arthur Kennedy, The Sentinel, Champion) accuses Katie of killing Martin, causing her to have a breakdown and be hospitalized. At the hospital, George learns that some of the babies, all from the area they just came from, have been trying to bite people. George and Edna try to exonerate Katie while the sergeant pursues them. Their investigation leads them to the town graveyard where they enter an underground crypt where the man who killed Martin was supposedly buried. There, they are attacked by the man, who brings other corpses to life. They kill and gruesomely eat a policeman sent to trail George and Edna. With the dead coming back to life and the sergeant on their trail, how will George and Edna survive and will they be able to prove Katie's innocence?
"This police officer is going straight to my thighs!"
I didn't know much about Let Sleeping Corpses Lie before viewing it, but had seen it's name pop up on multiple top zombie movie lists. If it can share the same space as Dawn Of The Dead, Planet Terror, and Dead Alive, it must be good. Right? Well, maybe for some people, but definitely not for me. That's right, I didn't like a “cult classic”. I was incredibly bored for most of this movie. I felt that not enough time was devoted to the zombies. Instead, a good chunk of the movie focuses on the asshole sergeant giving George and Edna a hard time like they're a couple of college kids on spring break. The story itself is quite bland for my taste, filled with unlikable characters and mediocre acting. The direction is fine and the graphic violence will make serious horror fans squeal with glee.
I will say that Let Sleeping Corpses Lie does fit in well between Night Of The Living Dead and the gorier Italian zombie movies like Zombie. These are the slow, lurching Romero zombies combined with Fulci's extremley violent zombies. There aren't a lot of action scenes, but the ones that do exist are pretty gory for the time. It's just not enough to keep my attention for very long. Instead of the dead rising from their graves or people turning into a zombie from an infected bite, these zombies reanimate after the lead zombie puts blood on their eyes. That's, uh, new to say the least. It wasn't entirely clear if a bite would change people, so that's just poor story making. By not having zombie bites change people, a lot of danger and excitement is removed from the movie. The zombies all make a constant groaning noise, which makes sense in terms of “science” but it does become annoying over time. The movie does have social commentary in regards to technology and authority, but I would have liked more. Once again, too much focus was given on the quest to prove Katie's innocence.
Just another night at Glenn Beck's house
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie isn't a bad movie, it just didn't entertain me. The pacing was too slow and there was not enough action to keep my attention. The zombies are of the traditional slow variety and the makeup used to create them isn't particularly special. The violence and gore are both very, very good, but they are used sparingly. I appreciated the brief social commentary used in the film. It's more than a lot of other zombie movies are able to muster. The movie is currently on Youtube, so by all means give it a watch. You may like it better than I did.