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Film / The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue

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The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue is a 1974 Spanish-Italian zombie film that was written and directed by Jorge Grau, starring Ray Lovelock, Arthur Kennedy and Cristina Galbó.

A young woman named Edna goes to visit her sister on the outskirts of Manchester. Along the way she damages the motorcycle of a brash young man named George, who forces her to take him along for the ride. Once there, they find that "ultrasonic radiation" from a pest-control device is causing the dead to rise as Flesh-Eating Zombies.

As they fight off the zombies, a police sergeant named McCormick comes across the mutilated corpses and desecrated graves. Misreading the evidence, he concludes that a cult of devil-worshipping murderers are loose - and Edna and George are his prime targets.

In the eighties, the film was targeted during Britain's Video Nasties scare, though it was not on the prosecuted list.


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The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adjustable Censorship: In early-eighties Britain, two different versions of the film were on the market: the uncut The Living Dead, and the cut Don't Open the Window. The latter version escaped targeting during the video nasty scare.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Seriously, ultrasonic radiation?
  • Covers Always Lie: The UK VHS release of the film in its Don't Open the Window incarnation showed a laughably crude painting of a woman looking out a window as she draws the curtains, with nary a zombie or morgue or the city of Manchester in sight. It appears that the artist hadn't seen the film and only had the title to go on.
  • Kill It with Fire: Implied to be the only sure-fire way of killing a zombie.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After the inspector kills George for a mere suspicion, Zombie!George shows up in his hotel room and kills him with the inspector dying quickly without much of a fight.
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  • Police Brutality: The inspector is a frustrated, incompetent buffoon who would rather kill a suspect than investigate if the suspect is actually guilty.
  • No Swastikas: Invoked when George mocks McCormick's authoritarian manner by saying "Heil Hitler" and doing what is clearly supposed to be a Nazi salute... only he holds out his palm in what looks more like an "I solemnly swear" gesture.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Despite their pseudo-scientific origin, the film gives its zombies some seemingly supernatural characteristics. The first zombie to be resurrected walks around the morgue bringing the corpses to life by ritualistically daubing their eyelids with his blood; he also fails to appear in photographs, hinting at vampire-like attributes (although he may simply have been out of shot).
  • Shown Their Work: Incredibly for a foreign production, the actors make an actual effort to affect the correct regional accent rather than employing a stereotypical upper-class dialect.
  • Streaking: The opening sequence shows a naked woman running through a busy street. This has no bearing on the plot and seems to be there only to emphasise the swinging nature of 1970s urban England.

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