The Plague of the Zombies (1966)
|Year Of Production||1966|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||John Gilling|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
This film comes paired with another Hammer film, The Reptile, on this double-feature disc, and there are considerable similarities between the two films, both in story structure and in the productions.
Following the mysterious deaths of a number of villagers, Sir James Forbes (André Morell) and his daughter Sylvia (Diane Clare) are summoned to a remote Cornish village by the local GP, Peter (Brook Williams), who happens to have been Sir James' best pupil. Peter's wife Alice (Jacqueline Pearce) also was a school friend of Sylvia's. Arriving in the village, the funeral of the latest victim is interrupted by some fox hunters, and the coffin is overturned, revealing the twisted face of the victim.
Arriving at the GP's home, the pair find that Alice is behaving oddly and has a mysterious cut on her wrist. While out following Alice when she leaves the house at night, Sylvia is monstered by the fox hunters, but saved at the last minute by the local squire Clive Hamilton (John Carson), who himself seems to be a nasty piece of work. Meanwhile, having been refused permission to perform autopsies on any of the victims, Sir James and Peter engage in some grave robbing, only to find the coffin empty...
Like The Reptile, this John Gilling film is a good example of second-tier Hammer films. It moves quickly, is played without any knowing winks towards the audience and is reasonably short. It seems to have been shot on the same sets as The Reptile, and features a similar script and a couple of actors (Pearce and Michael Ripper, this time as a policeman). Morell is quite good as the eminent physician, but again Jacqueline Pearce does not get enough screen time. Brook Williams is recognisably the son of playwright-actor Emlyn Williams, but is basically not distinctive as the bewildered local doctor.
One thing I liked about this film was that the reason that the zombies were being created was not explained verbally. The audience is expected to put two and two together to get the answer, and while the answer is pretty obvious , it is still a better option than movies of recent vintage where every plot point is explained in triplicate.
The film is presented slightly windowboxed in an aspect ratio of 1.80:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. 1.85:1 appears to have been the original aspect ratio.
The video image is sharp with a reasonable level of detail. Shadow detail is average but this is not an issue in terms of seeing what is going on. Contrast levels are fine.
Colour is quite good, although there are few rich colours on display. Black levels are average and there are a few instances where shadows have a pale sheen over them.
There is some faint aliasing at times, but the only film to video artefact of any note is edge enhancement, which is very noticeable in some sequences, especially those showing the mine machinery against the sky.
Film artefacts are limited to some small specks and blemishes, and there are scratches visible on the film at the very start, and also at 26:26.
No subtitles are provided.
There is no layer change, although this is a dual-layer disc, as the film is contained wholly on one layer.
The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.
Dialogue is clear and distinct. The audio is a reasonable mono mix, with no audible hiss or distortion. Bass levels are good, but there is some thinness at the top of the frequency range.
The music score by James Bernard is very good, with some atmospheric passages adding to the spookiness of the proceedings.
|Surround Channel Use|
No extras are provided.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The US Region 1 release is naturally from Anchor Bay, and contains the following extras:
The film is also available in Region 2 but only in a boxset of Hammer films, and the transfer sounds as if it is the same as the Region 4.
The extras marginally tip the balance in favour of Region 1.
Not a bad Hammer horror film, this one gets a reasonable video and audio transfer.
There are no extras.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Main: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175|