Anticipating Night of the Living Dead by a couple of years, the John Gilling-directed Plague of the Zombies gives the gothic treatment to the stumbling undead. André Morell plays an unassuming medical professor called by a former student, village doctor Peter Tompson (Brook Williams), to investigate a mysterious plague in a small Cornish village. They uncover an unholy plot by the devilishly decadent local Squire (John Carson), who has been using black magic to create an army of laborers to work his failing tin mine and has now infected William's sickly young wife. Gilling sets a spooky atmosphere, a fog-drenched village where the inhabitants live as if under a cloud of doom, dominated by the arrogant squire, who bullies his way about with his gang of cruel, aristocratic thugs. The film's highlight is the eerie introduction of the zombies, clawing their way up through the earth and emerging as lumbering, death-masked ghouls. The film has been remastered from the original 35mm negatives in the Hammer vaults, and letterboxed to its original aspect ratio. --Sean Axmaker
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