It’s a double dose of Italian horror this week as two 1970s genre classics hit DVD in gorgeous new transfers.
1974’s Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (Optimum) stars Ray Lovelock as a North of England based art dealer, George, who finds himself mixed up in supernatural goings on in the countryside when he hitches a lift from Edna (Cristina Galbó).
When a zombie attacks Edna’s car as a result of an electronic pest control machine going wrong and the police become involved, primarily in the form of a stubborn Inspector (Arthur Kennedy), it soon becomes a fight for survival for George and those he comes into contact with.
Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (Optimum) from 1973, was director by cult favourite Lucio Fulci and focuses on the beautiful Carol Hammond (Florinda Bolkan) who is suffering from a series of explicit dreams which often end in the violent death of neighbor, Julia Durer (Anita Stridberg). When Durer is then found dead in reality, the investigations of Inspector Corvin (Stanley Baker) uncover a strange reality which will need all of his expertise to understand.
Dubbed to within an inch of their lives by non-Italian casts and free to go more OTT with the blood and gore, it’s probably safe to say that you’ll know if you’re going to enjoy both films within the first 10 minutes. But, give them a chance, and you could be entranced by the sheer ludicrousness of the scripts and energy of the actors involved.
Of the two, Morgue is the more accessible, the dialogue more entertaining and the concept behind it suggesting a deeper, ecological, meaning to the creation of zombies as opposed to anything supernatural.
Lizard, on the other hand, is more problematical, requiring much greater head scratching from the viewer to work out quite what’s going on, while Stanley Baker’s policeman (and his annoying whistle) are a bizarre addition.
While extras are non-existent, both films have been given a spit and polish worthy of their cult reputations and it’s a pleasure to watch them as they were meant to be seen.