LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE (1974) Reviews and overview

   

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‘They tampered with nature – now they must pay the price…’

Let Sleeping Corpses Lie is a 1974 Spanish-Italian horror feature film directed by Jorge Grau (The Legend of Blood Castle) from a screenplay co-written by Sandro Continenza (The Crimes of the Black Cat; Seven Murders for Scotland Yard; The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire) and Marcello Coscia (Rings of FearYeti: Giant of the 20th Century; Dorian Gray).

The movie stars Ray Lovelock (Queens of Evil; The Last House on the BeachMurder Rock), Arthur Kennedy (Nine Guests for a Crime; The Antichrist; The Sentinel; ), Christine Galbó (What Have You Done to Solange?; The Killer Must Strike Again; Supernatural).

The Spanish title is No profanar el sueño de los muertos; while the Italian title is Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti (“Do Not Profane the Sleep of the Dead”).

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The film is also known as The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, Breakfast at the Manchester Morgue, The Living Dead and Don’t Open the Window.

The film’s excellent score is by Giuliano Sorgini (Cries and Shadows; The Beast in Heat; Holocaust 2). The soundtrack includes lots of resonant heavy breathing and electronica. Buy Beat CD soundtrack with City of the Living Dead from Amazon.co.uk

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In Britain, it was shown as The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, despite the fact that most of the film takes place in the Peak District, not the city of Manchester (which is only featured in the opening credits sequence). The protagonists are heading for Windermere in the Lake District but Winnats Pass, near Castleton, is as close as they actually get.

New Blu-ray steelbook release:

In the USA, the movie will be released by Synapse Films as a three-disc Steelbook Blu-ray/DVD/CD set on September 1st 2020. The release has been newly restored in 4K from the original 35mm camera negative with the “real opening and closing credit sequences intact”. It features a new 5.1 English stereo surround remix and an original English theatrical mono mix.

A CD of Giuliano Sorgini’s soundtrack is included along with a booklet featuring writing from Spanish film scholar Dr Nicholas Schlegel. Wes Benscoter designed the new Steelbook cover art which comes inside a slipcase featuring the original artwork.

Special features:

Two audio commentaries featuring film historians Troy Howarth, Nathaniel Thompson, and Bruce Holecheck
Jorge Grau: Catalonia’s Cult Film King – Featuring-length documentary on director Jorge Grau (Blu-ray only)
Interview with special effects artist Giannetto De Rossi (Blu-ray only)

Giannetto De Rossi Q&A from the Festival of Fantastic Films (Blu-ray only)
Theatrical trailer
TV spots
Radio spots
Soundtrack CD composed by Giuliano Sorgini
Booklet featuring writing by Spanish film scholar Dr Nicholas Schlegel
Mini-poster with artwork by Wes Benscoter

Limited to 6,000, it’s available for pre-order exclusively from Synapse for $49.95.

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Plot:

Antique dealer George and his female friend Edna are travelling in the English countryside, on their way to visit Edna’s sister, when they run into some awful trouble with a murderous zombie. It seems that experiments with a new pesticide on local farmland have had the unfortunate effect of awakening the dead and turning them into ravenous, blood-hungry cannibals. George and Edna try to raise the alarm about the impending danger, but will the authorities believe such an unusual story?

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In the UK, in the 1980s, the film also became embroiled in the British video nasties censorship furore but is now legally available in an uncut form.

Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

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Reviews [click links to read more]:

Let Sleeping Corpses Lie is as paranoically anti-authoritarian as any movie George Romero has made and is more relentlessly downbeat than many of them. It also anticipates a wrinkle Romero added very late in his own zombie cycle, the evil human who gets his comeuppance from the zombies. But the form that idea takes here is ever so much more satisfying than what happens during the closing phase of Day of the Dead.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

“With its insistent ecological message […] and its cynical presentation of the authorities as stupid, ineffectual and downright reactionary, The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue clearly owes a considerable debt to Romero. Yet, it’s a captivating film in its own right, offering an unforgettably bleak vision of entropy and decay.” Jamie Russell, Book of the Dead: The Complete History of Zombie Cinema

Buy: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca

“There is genuine artistry here, a gorgeous visual sense, a grim and serious and some pretty intense bloodletting for its time.” Digital Retribution

“Definitely not for the squeamish, Sleeping Corpses does deliver the goods. This film excels in nearly every department and is never a disappointment. Acting, writing, direction, and beautiful photography all come together to form an extremely entertaining end result.” Monsters at Play

” … some fantastic gore effects from Giannetto De Rossi and an amazingly eerie score courtesy of Giuliano Sorgini and The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue comes up a winner. It’s a smart, stylish and scary zombie movie that holds up just as well in this day and age as it probably did when it was first made in 1974.” Rock! Shock! Pop!

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“Grau’s storytelling and pacing are exact and forceful, making effective use of some gorgeous locations, evoking an English landscape that’s grey, chilly, and foreboding, eventually employing classic genre flourishes like swirling fog, eerie graveyards, deserted hospitals, and chewed intestines.” This Island Rod

“It has its moments, and it is interesting to see just how closely Night of the Living Dead influenced this movie. Certainly, for the European zombie genre, it’s way above average. However, it mostly comes across more like an experiment than an actual piece of entertainment, more like it’s to be studied than enjoyed.” The Unknown Movies

“There is relatively little gore but it is infamous for taking the first gruesome steps before Dawn of the Dead and features a few nasty scenes of breast and gut ripping. Interesting entertaining effort but flawed by a hollow dubbing job and numerous illogical plot devices just to give the director the scenes he needs.” The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre

“While it takes some time to get going, Let Sleeping Corpses Lie really becomes effective in its second half […]The climactic hospital carnage is the nastiest sequence; in one scene a secretary has her chest torn right off, and in another, an axe is driven into the forehead of a shocked doctor. The film’s earnest tone becomes downright bleak, leading to a grisly and shocking close that any serious zombie fan will get a kick out of.” Glenn Kay, Zombies Movies: The Ultimate Guide

Buy: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca

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Buy Blu-ray:  Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

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Buy vinyl soundtrack from Amazon.co.uk

This Brazilian retitling uses artwork for Italian film Graveyard Disturbance (1987)

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Choice dialogue:

Mechanic to George: “Well, you need a wheel. We’ll have to get that from Glasgow.”

George to Edna: ” Don’t get your knickers in a twist. I’ll be back soon.”

George to Edna: “The dead don’t walk around except in very bad paperback novels.”

The Inspector: “You’re all the same the lot of you, with your long hair and faggot clothes. Drugs, sex, every sort of filth!”

Cast and characters:

Cristina Galbó … Edna Simmonds (as Christine Galbo)
Ray Lovelock … George Meaning
Arthur Kennedy … The Inspector
Aldo Massasso … Detective Sgt. Kinsey
Giorgio Trestini … P.C. Craig
Roberto Posse … Benson
José Lifante … Martin West (as Jose Ruiz Lifante)
Jeannine Mestre … Katie West
Gengher Gatti … Keith
Fernando Hilbeck … Guthrie Wilson
Vera Drudi … Mary
Vicente Vega … Doctor Duffield
Francisco Sanz … Perkins
Paul Benson … Wood
Anita Colby … Nurse

Technical details:

93 minutes
Eastmancolor
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
Audio: 4-Track Stereo

Production dates:

1st November 1973 to 29th January 1974

Fun Facts:

References William Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Our rating: