I am currently reading Jamie Russell’s truly excellent Book of the Dead and felt it only appropriate to therefore rewatch Hammer’s Plague of the Zombies even at the risk of seeing it yet again during Don Fearney’s John Carson tribute later this year.
Russell highlights quite correctly that Plague is the first Zombie feature that abandons the racial elements of earlier genre productions such as White Zombie in favour of more typical (for Hammer) elements of class themes. He does not go very in depth into something that became quite poignant upon this viewing, the striking similarities with Hammer’s most aristocratic Undead, their original Dracula.
It’s amazing how much of Plague was lifted directly from this earlier Hammer classic.
When Sylvia Forbes (Diane Clare) gets accosted by the Squire’s (John Carson) Young Bloods in his mansion, threatened and tossed around, it is the Squire who puts an end to this when he arrives at the top of a staircase, screaming his commands before running down the stairs and punishing the main perpetrator. Compare this with Dracula interrupting the attack against Jonathan Harker by his female vampire and remember that in Bram Stoker’s source novel he was actually attacked by a whole group of Dracula’s “brides”, not just the one.
In order to gain a hypnotic influence with the females of the household, the Squire, just like Dracula, needs to first of all be invited to the house and then draw the ladies’ blood. Following that they are in a state of possession and under his spell.
Even the scene where the doctor (Brooks Williams) and Sir James (Andre Morell) visit Alice’s (Jaqueline Pearce) grave, see her come to life again and kill her off, mirrors the killing of Lucy in the earlier production.
Any other similarities I may have missed? It’s interesting to see how alike those scenes actually are given that neither the writer (Peter Bryan) nor the director (John Gilling) were involved with Dracula.
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