This is gratuitous nudity done very well. Why? Because The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue doesn't rely on gratuities to be a good film. Is the scene gratuitous? Yep. Is that an Exploitation Flick move? Yep! Couldn't you edit that out and have the same story? Yep. Don't! But, yep!
Any way you bounce it, the film (originally entitled Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti, which means Do Not Speak Ill of the Dead) does start out that way, but stands on its own quickly afterwards (though a film that followed that one particular story of the ten million in the naked city would float my proverbial boat).
The motorist in question is Ray Lovelock's George, a Hippie Biker type on his way through the English Countryside to help some friends out. Similarly Cristina Galbó's Edna is on her way through the same countryside to visit her troubled sister. The film really starts when Edna runs into George (literally) and they begin traveling together to their dual destinations.
The film really starts... GETTING WEIRD... when Edna is attacked Night of the Living Dead-style in her car by a strange, soaking wet weirdo. Though traumatic, the experience leaves Edna unscathed, so she and George set about their task to the city where they discover two interesting things. The first is that local scientist in conjunction with local farmers have created a pest control device that causes insects to fight each other to death, thus leaving the crops alone. The radiation, they're sure, doesn't affect Humans at all. The second item they discover is that people around them are being murdered and the death rate is going up like Enron Stock (years ago, that is).
The Irish Cop billed as The Inspector (and played by American Actor Arthur Kennedy) isn't willing to face the facts that Edna and George already know: THE DEAD WALK AGAIN AND ARE EATING THE LIVING! You know who he thinks the culprits are? Satanists. You know who just came into town, both of whom scream "Satanist!" to the Inspector's narrow mind? George and Edna.
George is anti-establishment all the way, like an Italian-cum-British Brando from The Wild One. In spite of this, George soon has to take on the duty of town crier, screaming out the Zombie version of "The Emperor Has No Clothes!" (which seems to equate to something like "Your Crop-Dusting Radiation is Bringing the Dead back to Life and they're HUNGRY!").
Along the way things can, and do, get very, very nasty. I give credit to Grau and his writers Juan Cobos, Sandro Continenza, Marcello Coscia and Miguel Rubio for coming up with an interesting idea for a Zombie Film with a setting that is, to this day, not overused. That said, Grau never forgets that he is making an Exploitative Horror Flick and he packs in what he can to earn his share of notoriety. Imagine the gore equivalent of a naked woman running across the road. Sure, there are films both on and off the Video Nasty List that make this one look relatively tame, but there is plenty of blood, animal parts and flesh-eating to disgust some and excite others. It's no wonder that this Spanish/ Italian Co-Production about English Zombies in England was banned in England as one of the Secondary Video Nasties. Almost two minutes had to be cut to allow this film's release. Times change, of course, and what seemed like the worst thing ever in the mid-80s may not be so now. The film has been released uncut on DVD in both the US and the UK (and abroad) as Let Sleeping Corpses Lie.
This may have something to do with the fact that this is a well-made film. Grau does allow his gratuities and his exploitation scenes, but he seems never content to simply phone it in. His framing and scenery are beautiful in places and the artistry and polish with which he hones his product transcend this subgenre and even genre. I'm reminded, in some ways, of the 1971 film Morgane et ses Nymphes, which was unashamedly horror-based, but with some incredible beauty in the filming. Unlike Morgane et ses Nymphes, however, this one is a gory nightmare, which has been described by many to be among the best Zombie films ever made.
I would agree. To be fair, though, I've seen some very bad ones in my time! Another asset to this movie (released in some countries as Zombi 3, if you can believe that) is the fact that Grau maintains an air of dark comedy in this movie from stem to stern. By no means is this one a farce, nor are any of the scenes played for laughs per se, but the underlying subtle droll wit herein is most certainly fitting of a movie made in England, regardless of where the filmmakers hailed from.
To advertise the US release of this film (as "Don't Open the Window", for some reason) the marketers boggarted the tagline "To avoid fainting keep repeating it's only a movie... only a movie... only a movie... only a movie...", the same tagline that originated with Last House on the Left! With very few exceptions, that's just about the only derivative thing about this movie! All told, this one should be considered a must for Horror fans, specifically those fans of Zombie movies and gore. It's also a very well filmed piece worthy of a look for those of you born without the "squeamish gene". Three Stars out of Five for Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, by any name. It's scary, well-shot, fun and wryly funny with a poetic justice worth grinning about. There's also a valid (if subtle) statement about prejudices. And, of course, there's the statement about pesticides! Manchester England, England maybe across the Atlantic Sea, but it doesn't take a Genius, Genius to note that when the dead start rising again and killing your townsfolk, it's time to stop using the DDT! See you in the Next Reel, whether I'm still living... or not!
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They may BUG you, but they won't bring the recently deceased back to bite you on the leg, either.