First of all, I really need to apologise to myself for never having seeing this film sooner but like so many of the old school classics of the exploitation/horror genre, during the ‘video nasty’ cull of the early 1980’s, this film would almost certainly have suffered the same fate of censorship on a scale that is now known to have been totally needless. It has taken decades for attitudes to change towards film and all its artistic content so that it is no longer seen by the mainstream as abhorrent and that the viewer is actually capable of deciding for themselves whether the content contained within a film is fit for viewing. I am glad that I now have the opportunity to view Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue in all its eerie, gory goodness.
If you haven’t seen LDatMM before, the story revolves around two main characters who meet by chance in the northern English countryside and are thrust into a nightmare when the dead start returning to life. Not only do they have to deal with that small matter but they also have to deal with the police, who are blaming them for the spate of grisly murders that are occurring in the sleepy villages. As the death toll rises, so do the stakes for the main characters as they unfurl the mystery.
Jorge Grau, who directed LDatMM bascally only made this film as he was asked to make something that would be comparative to Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. During the time period, several low budget directors were asked to do the same but the major difference with this film is that Grau has handled this project with care, spending time developing the characters so they seem almost believable, if you can get your head around the over accentuated and stereotypical accents. The acting is also very passable, especially from the main cast and I did actually care about what happened to the characters during the plot unfolding. Set pieces are well paced and gather momentum in their ferocity and frequency. The climax to the movie is immensely satisfactory and is both uncompromising and disturbing in its approach.
Grau has also inserted some very forward thinking into the film for the time the film was made (1974). There are many social issues hinted within to make the viewer cast a weather eye on subjects such as pollution, abuse of technology and open-mindedness towards others. In fact the film heavily hints that humanity is responsible for all of the evils of today’s society and that as a whole, we are all somehow careering towards oblivion.
The final result is a superbly enjoyable and actually very eerie tale which has been overshadowed somewhat by other comparable movies of the genre by more well known directors. Fans of such films, if they haven’t already come across Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue, will find this movie an absolute gem.