- Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (24Hz)
- Audio Codec: English LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/16-bit)
- Subtitles: English HOH
- Subtitles Color: White
- Region: B (Region-Locked)
- Certification: 12
- Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
- Run time: 90 Mins.
- Studio: StudioCanal
- Blu-ray Release Date: June 18, 2012
- RRP: £22.99
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This Hammer Films classic, The Plague of the Zombies, was originally on a double bill with another Hammer classic, Dracula: Prince of Darkness. Like the latter and many other Hammer films, it follows a similar pattern. Set in the Victorian era, a group of protagonists find themselves in danger in a rural village, this time Cornwall, at a manner house, amongst townsfolk who don’t want them there whilst strange deaths are occurring. The elaborate sets and costumes are a key element of every Hammer film of this era and Plague is no exception.
A medical professor, Sir James Forbes (André Morell), and his daughter, Sylvia (Diane Clare), travel to a rural Cornwall village where they find his former student, Dr. Peter Tompson (Brook Williams), dealing with a mysterious illness that has claimed one life a month for the past 12 months. The villagers are angry and on the verge of taking it out on the Doctor, but their superstitions won’t allow him to perform an autopsy on their dead to determine a cause. Meanwhile, Peter’s wife Alice (Jacqueline Pearce) may be the next victim as she is already displaying symptoms.
Something peculiar is taking place, however, corpses are disappearing from their graves and Sylvia spots Alice one night being attacked by man she and her father saw being taken to be buried when they first arrived in town. That same night, Sylvia is accosted by a group of fox hunters working for the town’s mysterious squire, Clive Hamilton (John Carson), who not only holds all the power over the town, but has been carrying out clandestine ceremonies. As Sir James and Peter continue to investigate, Alice becomes sicker and Sylvia’s life is in peril, it’s all too late before Sir James realizes that voodoo may be at play in this quiet village.
A more subdued film than the previous Hammer release I reviewed, The Reptile, The Plague of the Zombies relies more on mystery and drama than absolute shock value than some other Hammer films, yet I found this to be the more enjoyable of these recent releases.
The transfer of The Plague of the Zombies, arriving in AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 framed in its original UK aspect ratio of 1.66:1, looks typical of what we have seen from the Hammer films released by StudioCanal thus far. The DNR is a little heavy handed resulting in skin textures that are somewhat waxy, but overall the film is watchable and does still show some slight film grain, even if at times it looks a bit unnatural. There is detail retained and a bit of texture, but the greatest strength is the spectacular color reproduction that grants vermillion reds and rich midtones. Blacks are inky and shadow detail is nicely nuanced.
A simple LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/16-bit) soundtrack of the original mix is provided that offers intelligible dialogue, little in the way of pops and clicks and minimal hiss.
The two featurettes, one archival World of Hammer and a new one featuring the cast and horror experts, offer lots of interesting tidbits on Hammer, The Plague of the Zombies and other films from the studio.
- World of Hammer Episode: “Mummies, Werewolves, and the Living Dead” (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:24:49)
- Raising the Dead (1.78:1 1080i/50; 00:34:01) – This featurette offers up interviews with the cast of The Plague of the Zombies plus horror and Hammer Films experts.
- Restoration Comparison (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:04:32)
- Trailer (1.78:1; 1080p/24) – The original theatrical trailer for The Plague of the Zombies.
The Definitive Word
Classic gothic horror from the Hammer catalogue, I don’t think too many fans will be disappointed with this release even if the video quality isn’t completely perfect. It may not look all natural, but it’s certainly not the worst I’ve seen.
Additional Screen Captures