In the early 1970s, the zombie genre made famous by 1968’s Night of the Living Dead was in its infancy, with low-budget zombie flicks being churned out both in the U.S. and overseas. Having brushed up on most of them, I have to say that Let Sleeping Corpses Lie is perhaps one of my favorites, delivering zombie thrills without relying on the hordes of zombies present in other films. In fact, the majority of the film features one zombie…that’s right. ONE zombie.
A hip young couple traveling the English countryside stops for directions, and the fun begins. The man goes off to talk to some agriculturists experimenting with a radiation machine that provokes insects into devouring one another instead of precious crops. Uh-oh! If I were the one asking these guys for directions, I’d be like, “Dudes! You’re just begging to make people start feasting on each other!”
Anyway, the woman, waiting back at the car, suddenly feels a pair of eyes on her. Excellent zombie viewpoint and raucous music/zombie “sounds” accompany the appearance of the first of the living dead. A recently drowned man (it was in the local paper) turns out to be the only zombie hiding in the shadows of this desolate town for most of the movie. And yet, the tension remains high despite the seemingly limited threat. As the body count rises, the local detective begins to suspect that the couple is actually committing the murders—you know, the disemboweling and gutting. At one point, he even gets nasty with our male hero, criticizing his long hair and “faggot clothes.” Awesome. Why worry about zombies when there’s a guy with faggot clothes threatening the safety of your town?
A mandatory visit to the cemetery finds the couple trapped in a basement with the main zombie and his friends, who rise from nearby coffins to join him, including a FREAKY old lady zombie that looks like a witch.
These zombies are no slouches. In fact, they’re pretty strong (they can unearth a tombstone and throw it) and they climb ladders! This scene delivers, and the director isn’t afraid to let darkness be darkness, a quality in horror films that has been lost in polished, sleek Hollywood films of the new millennium.
Quite a bit of the movie takes place in a dreary hospital, which is where the film reaches its climax with the largest zombie count and human slaughter, including a totally ridiculous strip down of a nurse by the zombies. As the film nears its end, you think the director is copping out and stealing the twist right out of the original Night of the Living Dead. Think again.