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When one pops THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES ($30) into their DVD player, they may be unsure if they are watching a very cool little Hammer horror movie from 1966, or a corporate "How To" video on lowering labor costs. THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES stars Andrť Morell as Sir James Forbes, a well-respected physician who visits a small Cornish village at the behest of Dr. Peter Tompson (Brook Williams), a former student whose practice is floundering due to a strange malady that is decimating the populace. At first, the locals hinder the investigation into the cause of the mysterious deaths. However, with a bit of digging (in the cemetery nonetheless), Sir James uncovers that someone is practicing voodoo and has been turning the villagers into zombies, creating a cheap labor force that will work in the local tin mine without complaint. THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES features a number of wonderfully creepy moments, including a rather intense scene in which the zombies rise up out of their graves and stalk the living (something that would become a staple in many horror movies produced during the 70ís and 80ís). The cast of THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES includes Diane Clare, Jacqueline Pearce, John Carson, Alex Davion and Michael Ripper.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has done an absolutely smashing job with their DVD edition of THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES. Not only is THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES presented in anamorphic enhanced wide screen, the 16:9 transfer of the film is truly stunning. The image is clear and highly detailed, making this about the best-looking Hammer release to arrive on DVD. Colors are rich, fully saturated and faithfully rendered without any flaws. Reds are especially well reproduced, although I have never seen human blood come in the particular hue that is used in the film. Flesh tones are very natural and very unnatural, depending on which part of the makeup department the actors happened to visit- check out that cool zombie gray-green makeup. Blacks are true black, plus the image boasts excellent contrast and respectable shadow detail. Solid authoring and the use of dual layer technology keep digital compression artifacts at bay.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack has all of the frequency limitations of a mid-sixties production, however the dialogue is clean and the track will take a fair amount of amplification, without any significant distortion. A French monaural soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD.

The interactive menus feature a few segments James Bernardís creepy musical score, but are otherwise rather standard. Through the menus, one can access the expected scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES includes a half-hour World Of Hammer episode entitled MUMMIES, WEREWOLVES & THE LIVING DEAD, as well as a couple of theatrical trailers.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has done such a great job with their anamorphic enhanced edition of THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES that Hammer fans will find the DVD impossible to do without. Hopefully, earlier non-anamorphic Hammer titles like QUATERMASS AND THE PIT and DRACULA, PRINCE OF DARKNESS can be revisited with equally fantastic results.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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