Movie of the Week: The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue

Don’t you hate it when you’re driving through the English countryside in a car with a strange woman who is going to see her drug-addicted sister and the drug-addicted sister’s photographer boyfriend/captor is killed by the zombie of the village homeless man?

It’s a real bummer, for sure.

Welcome to The Living Dead At Manchester MorgueIt’s a Spanish/Italian co-production known by a dozen or more other titles such as Don’t Open the Window, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie,  and Do Not Profane the Sleep of the Dead.  The Manchester Morgue title pales somewhat in comparison with a few of those others, yet it retains a certain Non so cosa.  It’s a fun romp nonetheless. You gotta love the seventies (the music behind the title credits are particularly groovy).

Our hero, George, is your average 1970’s renaissance man: he rides a motorcycle, owns an antique shop, and is traveling to help some friends remodel their country house.  Stopping to refuel, a woman, Edna, backs into his bike with her Mini Cooper.

Some words are exchanged and an agreement is made.  George, driving Edna’s car, will take her to her country destination to see her troubled sister, then will drive to his own destination in another town.  Edna will retrieve her car later.  The seventies were a different time, obviously.

George and Edna, naturally, get lost and end up on a dead end road.  George walks to a nearby farm populated by research scientists conducting experiments with ultra-sonic radiation to kill insects that would destroy crops. While George is on the farm, Edna is accosted by a shambling man in a ratty, wet suit.  She escapes and the man disappears.  From her description, it’s a homeless man who lived in the area.  The research scientist, who is nice enough to provide directions, laughs off the attack as the homeless man he’s familiar with died some days prior.

George and Edna find Edna’s sister’s cottage.  Her photographer boyfriend has sequestered the sister to help her kick her heroin habit.  The boyfriend is conducting some night photography when he is attacked and killed by the same man who tried to get his grubby hands on Edna.

When the police arrive, they find heroin in the cottage, much to the sister’s disappointment, and take her away.  Although nothing can be placed for sure on George and Edna, the inspector is certain they have something to do with it all, discrediting their eyewitness account of the killer.  It just has to be a scheme to free Edna’s sister.  The inspector is an older man, obviously not hip, and has full on contempt for the likes of George, and drugs, in general.  The aged inspector is not of the groovy mold.

As George and Edna mount their own investigation, they discover the recently deceased returning to life, or something close to it.  They like to eat the living, I’ll leave it at that.

The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue is full of narrow escapes (the one from the church crypt is especially good), irritated babies, and nearly all hell breaking loose at the local hospital.  It is also full of the Establishment not digging the new scene.

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