Saturday, October 01, 2005

Terror Creatures From the Grave (Cinque tombe per un medium)

Directed by Massimo Pupillo, 1965

This slow-paced, black and white 1965 movie plays like a 1930s horror camp classic, complete with superstitious villagers, titillating bathtub teases, and candelabras throwing enormous shadows across castle walls. It takes itself seriously, which is a bit of a shame. Drama this lurid needs a sense of humor.

Terror Creatures From the Grave is primarily a story of mystical revenge from beyond the grave. The medieval plague victims called from their mass grave to terrorize a village are only glimped as decayed or mummified hands, which offers an interesting subtlety to a film that doesn't otherwise shy away from gore. I suspect budgetary concerns, personally.

Zombie explanation: Black magic; vengeance.

Contribution to the zombie canon: As in many early zombie films, the zombie identity isn't yet fixed. The modern zombie is partially an epidemiological horror as the plague of undeath spreads unchecked. Terror Creatures From the Grave's zombies carry another kind of plague: bubonic. This infection would be redundant in today's zombie films, but here it provides a great look at how zombies evolved through early horror.

Favorite moment: A trophy case of mummified hands, severed from plague carriers who viciously infected the town's only water supply, begin to wiggle as the clock strikes midnight.

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