I think Plague of the Zombies is to Hammer Studios what Tomb of Ligeia is to American International Pictures. It was a temporary relief from the dark, dreary, claustrophobic castles and mansions that so many of their wonderful Gothic horror stories demanded. Both films make use of the outside, opening the gates to more sunlight and the countryside. Even the cemetery scenes are in daylight. It’s refreshing. What’s also refreshing is that this is a zombie movie not situated in the Caribbean or bayous of southern America, but in a cozy Cornish village in England.
The story is a good one, though a bit unoriginal. People in a village are dying en masse of mysterious illnesses. It is soon discovered that their bodies are no longer in their graves after a chance exhumation. In a plot that we have seen time and time again, there is a grand controller of sorts using voodoo to keep the zombies enslaved to work in the expansive abandoned tin mines located below the town.
Andre Morrell plays a visiting doctor who uncovers this grand scheme. Morrell brings a level of acting to a Hammer production usually reserved for the likes of Lee and Cushing. He is sincere. His mannerisms and expressions show that he is truly into his role and appears to be loving it. John Carson is the evil mastermind, also excellent—his gravely voice helps a chilling performance.
As usual, the sets and costumes are all top-notch. You feel transported to the Cornish village they are trying to recreate. The only complaint I have are the actual zombies. Their makeup and the way they behave brings down the quality of what was an otherwise excellent film. They just do not appear convincing enough and draw more chuckles than screams. Still, it is not enough to do any real damage to Plague of the Zombies. This is a fun, entertaining flick full of atmosphere and intelligence. The type of zombie movie the genre could use today. 8 out of 10 stars.