Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Post Mortem: Living Dead at Manchester Morgue

The Mangling of Martin:

Manner Of Death: Unassuming photographer who is taking photos of flowers at night is strangled/throat torn out by by the film's primary Zombie. It's rather unclear really by the scene we see unfold, it looks as if he's simply strangled to death (which is an exceedingly disappointing way to die at the hands of a zombie), however later we see the "Drowned
Man", aka Zombie #1, with bloody hands and Martin's corpse with a bloody throat. It is clear that the zombie does not have blood on his face, so it is evident his demise is not from a bite. In the greater scheme of things, either way it's not a very good example of zombie carnage. Since this is such an important killing (as I will get to soon enough), the first attack of the movie, which should set the ground work for the film and rev up the audience, and as it turns out the only killing in the first hour of the film (with a run time of 93 minutes), it fails miserably in this category I'm afraid.

Effect of Death: Unquestionably this death has tremendous ramifications to the film, in that everything that follows plot-wise really is as a result of Martin's Demise. The leading characters, George and Edna, that have been thrust together earlier are now trapped with one another because of the police inquiry, and the fact the detective is convinced of their involvement, if not the murderers themselves, even though all evidence is to the contrary.
The truth of the matter is, it's the significance of this death scene to the rest of the movie that I chose to review it. Be that as it may, I honestly can't justify giving this this film full marks in this category solely based on the shortcomings of the movie's writing. More zombie carnage could easily have been written in to keep audience interest (it's not a mystery after all) and be conveniently tied to the main characters to make the police chief's fanaticism remotely plausible, even if the scenes played out as poorly conceived and mediocre at best. After all that's no different than what we're being given already.

Appearance/Direction: So now I'm wondering if director Jorge Grau is really is so acclaimed, then he obviously did not get this honour based on this scene, in fact I'm wondering if he was even there when this was shot. The lighting and setting is poor at best, the acting is atrocious, particularly from the girl who is looking on as Martin is being killed, and the choices of angles (close-up, wide angle, close-up, close-up) and cinematography is dismal. When it comes down to it this could be the worst shot scene in the movie (or any movie for that matter).

Mood: The scene played out so poorly that the mood of the scene was really no better that the Appearance and Direction. Again it is so far from the rest of the film one can only wonder. I'm going to have to watch the Jorge Grau interviews on this set (yes I paid $30.00 for a 2 disk special edition of a pretty weak zombie flick) to see if he explains this scene or even just apologizes for it.

Acting: In that I'm reviewing Jose' Ruiz Lifonte as Martin here since it is his death scene is merciful. Really it was rather poor, as he stumbles around with no more determination or coordination than the zombie he's trying to fend off. But I'll admit I've seen worse (and in this very scene too come to think of it).

Overall this scene falls so short of what it could have been it is tragic. Fortunately for the viewer there are more death scenes and far better ones later in the movie. 9/25, 36% F

It is clear that I don't share B-Sol's views on this film (LOTT D's resident Zombie master) as I feel that even though it's place in zombie film history cannot be denied, compared to Romero's Night of the living Dead, Grau approaches the genre rather timidly even if he does serve up a rather graphic Zombie feast later on in the film. If you would like to read more on this film and B-Sol's review over at Vault of Horror go here.

Gary D. Macabre


B-Sol said...

I'll give you this--it is the weakest scene in the movie. But a weak zombie flick? I say thee nay!

Fred said...

I recently bought this movie and was startled to see how good it was, considering it was one of the first Romero-inspired zombie movies to come out... pre-dating "Dawn," it was really done with a some good gore effects for the time. I was surprised how well done it was overall.

But I didn't get the scene where the one zombie brings to life a couple of other dead folks by putting blood on their eyes. Wasn't it the radiation from the big-zapper machine that caused it?

Apart from a couple of lapses of internal logic, it's very well done especially considering how early in the zombie genre years it was made. I'll watch it again soon.