Blu-Ray News #197: The Plague Of The Zombies (1966).

Directed by John Gilling
Starring André Morell, John Carson, Jacqueline Pearce, Brook Williams, Michael Ripper

The Hammer horror films and coming fast and furious to Blu-Ray these days — and it’s terrific. The latest news is that Scream Factory is bringing us The Plague Of The Zombies (1966).

It’s been great re-visiting these films in high definition. I’ve been really floored by the cinematography in these things, especially the use of color. Before Hammer came along, horror films were almost always black and white. That was probably a financial decision more than an artistic one — but as has been proven a thousand times, black and white is perfect for horror movies.

Hammer used color as a marketing tool — and the promise of red blood served them well. The Plague Of The Zombies (1966) doesn’t offer up the blood that the Dracula movies do, but it has some really cool, innovative lighting things — particularly in the graveyard and mine scenes — that really set it apart. They liberal use of the fog machine is quite effective, too.

John Gilling’s direction and the cast are excellent. I have a soft spot for Brook Williams (he’s the first of many people who wind up dead in my  favorite movie, Where Eagles Dare). Everything comes together to make The Plague Of The Zombies a really creepy movie (as the stills above make pretty obvious).

Back in 1966, Hammer sent this out with Dracula – Prince Of Darkness, which is also on its way from Scream Factory.

FYI: These are the voodoo-type zombies, not the Romero-type zombies.



Filed under 1966, Hammer Films, Shout/Scream Factory

15 responses to “Blu-Ray News #197: The Plague Of The Zombies (1966).

  1. Richard Oravitz

    I’ve been up-grading a lot of my Hammer films to Blu-Ray. Several that I’d like to see make it to Blu-Ray are QUATERMASS 2 (ENEMY FROM SPACE), QUATERMASS AND THE PIT and THE DEVIL RIDES OUT. Maybe there’s a copyright problem. Maybe I just need to get that region free player…Maybe they’ll be released six months from now.
    And speaking of upgrading WHERE EAGLES DARE, I’ve read reviews that the Warners Blu-Ray is pretty bad, too dark. A company called Import-L also offers a Blu-Ray, and it’s supposedly region free. I might take a chance.


    • Both Quatermass & The Pit and Devil Rides Out were distributed (in the US) by 20th Century-Fox, as were Darkness and Plague, so maybe there’s hope. Those are two of Hammer’s best.

      The Where Eagles Dare US Blu-Ray is fine, but it’s not perfect. Growing up, I saw it almost a hundred times in a 16mm Scope print that had its color slightly off. Kinda green-ish. So in my head it’s supposed to look a certain way, which is not as good as the Blu-Ray. It’s one of those movies where clarity starts to reveal its secrets and flaws!


      • Richard Oravitz

        Thanks Toby….I replied previously, but something must have went wrong, so I’ll try again….I was concerned that there might have been a major transfer problem with the WHERE EAGLES DARE Blu-Ray, but “fine” is just fine with me. When I first saw WHERE EAGLES DARE in the theaters, trying to keep up with Eastwood’s body count (I never could), I knew that I had to read the novel. The paperback had the cable car fight on the cover. It was well written, exciting, suspenseful, but if I remember correctly (it’s been 50 yrs. now), hardly anyone, if anyone at all got killed. From the movie’s high body count to the novel’s low body count. Some people maintain that the book is always better than the film, but this is one instance where both film and novel were highly entertaining, yet in different ways.
        And while my wife will be enjoying the Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie Marathon, my favorite Christmas movie has always been WHERE EAGLES DARE. That along with THE FRENCH CONNECTION, where Gene Hackman plays Santa Claus.


  2. Jerry Entract

    In 1966 I went to my local cinema to see that very double bill. Great stuff too. I really liked “PLAGUE…” and had also always liked Andre Morell in things. He starred on TV in “QUATERMASS AND THE PIT” (1961) and was very good in it. Another Hammer that he starred in with Peter Cushing was “CASH ON DEMAND”, not a horror obviously but a terrific heist movie.


  3. Mike Richards

    I do remember seeing that double bill very well, and what a double.
    I haven’t seen either film for a few years now, but at the time I liked the Dracula film the best, even though the zombie film was more the original of the two for Hammer.
    Neither film is in my collection (library), I wanted the blu ray of Dracula Prince of Darkness, but put off by negative reviews about the picture.


  4. john k

    Interesting that Christopher Lee has often commented that he found
    director John Gilling tough going.
    In a recent Talking Pictures TV interview with veteran Brit actor Michael
    Craig,he mentions Gilling’s terrible temper.
    Oliver Reed,on the other hand states “People loathed John because he
    was a bully,he was brash…but I liked him”
    I wonder how American “tough guy” stars put up with his antics like
    Scott Brady,Jack Palance and William Bendix,not to mention Ray Milland,
    and Victor Mature.
    Talking Pictures TV yesterday showed Gilling’s HIGH FLIGHT but
    sadly as a 4×3 pan & scan not CinemaScope.
    I always thought Gilling was a good director his Warwick and Hammer
    work is excellent.
    PIRATES OF BLOOD RIVER is to me the best of Hammer’s
    Swashbucklers as well as being one of Hammer’s all time best.
    Even Gilling’s early Brit B pictures like THREE STEPS TO THE GALLOWS
    and TIGER BY THE TAIL have a real zip about them.


    • I like Gilling’s stuff, both as director and writer. This brings up something I’ve been meaning to look into — is there a decent copy of his Flesh And The Fiends/Mania out there?


    • Mike Richards

      I watched about 20 mins of High Flight, then gave up as image so bad. Not even good pan and scan, just a crude 4 x 3 crop. Disappointing.


      • john k

        I note that Talking Pictures TV are,at the end of this month
        showing the much sought after THE HELLIONS.
        Let’s hope it’s in widescreen-in fact the film was originally
        released in Technirama.
        THE HELLIONS was one of the first films released after
        Albert Brocolli and Irving Allen fell out over the James Bond films.
        THE HELLIONS was one of Allen’s first productions since the break
        and after upsetting Ian Fleming’s agents.
        THE HELLIONS was released in a dynamite double bill with
        JOHNNY NOBODY possibly the very last of the Warwick films.
        Toby has JOHNNY NOBODY very much on his “must see” list
        purely because of the cast-NIgel Patrick,Aldo Ray and William Bendix.
        I DO wish Powerhouse/Indicator would release some of the
        Warwick films and THE HELLIONS instead of recycling old
        Twilight Time releases.


      • Johnny Nobody is indeed on my Wanna-See List. Partly for the cast, partly for the interesting plot-line, and partly because it has one of the greatest titles in cinema history.


  5. john k

    Firstly the only copy of FLESH AND THE FIENDS that I know of
    is the very old Image DVD which had several extras including the
    “export strength” scenes with lots of nudity.
    I remember seeing a link over at Kristina’s a couple of years or so back
    detailing an extra packed Arrow Blu Ray which,sadly never happened
    (rights issues??) I did write to Arrow at the time but never received a reply.
    FLESH AND THE FIENDS really needs a high-def version-there is a huge
    market for this sort of thing and the film is top drawer as well.
    Apart from Cushing,a boffo supporting cast and widescreen black & white
    this film ticks many “must have” boxes.
    This Berman/Baker Regal Films International thing is the British version
    of the AIP “missing” Susan Hart stuff.
    need to be released in high-def restored “official” versions.
    Another (non Berman/Baker) Regal Films International picture on the
    “missing list” is Gilling’s FURY AT SMUGGLERS BAY also with Cushing
    in colour and widescreen.
    This was made under Gilling’s own production imprint.
    Like all of the aforementioned it needs a restored high def version.
    Another good (non Gilling/non Regal International) Cushing film on the
    missing list is Freddie Francis’ THE GHOUL-yet another much sought
    after title on Blu Ray.
    As far as I know I don’t believe Cushing had any problems with Gilling.
    Who knows a company like Indicator may be able to untangle the web
    that is preventing these films from getting released.

    BTW I am aware of the Severin version of JACK THE RIPPER but
    was this release “official” and from what I understand the picture quality
    was far from stellar.


    • I’ve seen the Image DVD, which I wish I had. It’s fine, but an HD version with improved contrast would be terrific. Started a post on it a while back — I should get back on it.


  6. john k

    One Berman/Baker Regal Films International film that did get released
    (by Warner Archive) is TREASURE OF MONTE CRISTO with
    Rory Calhoun. Luckily that film was picked up by MGM in America.
    Mighty fine to see the H8 responses continue to climb and equally fine
    to see the elusive Mr Oravitz make a most welcome appearance.


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