..

LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Christina Galbo, Ray Lovelock, Arthur Kennedy
Director:  Jorge Grau
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic Transfer
Studio:  Anchor Bay
Features:  Interview with Jorge Grau, TV Spot, Radio Spots, Stills Gallery
Length:  93 Minutes
Release Date:  October 24, 2000

Film *1/2

“Dead people are trying to kill me!”

I love horror, and I love Anchor Bay’s commitment to putting out all kinds of horror films on quality DVDs.  I also admit, I love their sense of being non-judgmental about the movies they present, which is a necessity in the horror genre:  one fan’s trash is another fan’s treasure.  I don’t relish it when I have to be bluntly critical about a bad movie from them, but hey, they don’t make the movies, they just create good discs to put them on.

Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, aka Don’t Open the Window aka Breakfast at the Manchester Morgue, aka a number of other titles, is another assembly line zombie pick from the factory that produced George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.  It’s not particularly original nor effective.  Nor good.

The box boldly proclaims it “The Epic Zombie Shocker”.  Epic it wasn’t, shocking is debatable, but zombies there were, though I don’t think any of the movie’s zombies were as impressive as me trying to stay awake during the film.

For starters, it takes way too long to get going.  We meet our intrepid heroes (or victims, depending on your point of view,) Edna (Galbo) and George (Lovelock), who meet in a gas station when Edna accidentally backs over George’s bike, forcing him to ride with her.  Along on their way, they meet some trusty scientists with a big red machine.  They are working on an experimental process to radiate the soil in order to keep vegetation free from bugs and other parasite.  As you might have guessed, this machine has an interesting side effect.

Soon Edna, alone in her car, is attacked by a lone zombie, in a fashion that’s such a ripoff of Night of the Living Dead it’s not even amusing.  Naturally, nobody believes her.  Later, when visiting her heroin addicted sister and her husband, that same zombie appears and kills the husband, leaving the sister a murder suspect. 

George eventually takes Edna to the cemetery to prove that the dead guy is in fact just that:  a dead guy.  Big mistake, though not nearly at the level you would expect.  After all, with the dead coming to life and two people alone in the cemetery, shouldn’t that amount to an incredible scene?  Here, you get a few moaning zombies bashing doors with big steel crosses.

Eventually, there is a small helping of gore as the zombies (what else?) eat the flesh of the living.  But by that time, I had all but lost interest.  At least at the very end of the movie, they do deliver the one scene we kind of wanted to see all along.  You can’t call it a surprise, but you can say that sometimes you get what you wish for.

The film’s original poster line was, “to avoid fainting, keep repeating it’s only a movie…”  I tend to think the ushers were confusing sleeping patrons with fainters.

Video ***1/2

As is the norm with Anchor Bay, just because a film is poor, it doesn’t mean the disc quality is, too.  This is actually one of the best looking transfers I’ve seen on DVD for a film from the seventies.  Colors are bright and natural throughout, and I never noticed any grain, loss of clarity, or break up even in the darker scenes.  Images were always sharp, and the print itself was surprisingly free of aging blemishes…I really only noticed one very light scratch which only appeared for a few seconds along the way, and I had to study the image to be sure I was seeing that.  And Anchor Bay proves once again that even bad titles deserve an anamorphic transfer…if you’re gonna do it, do it right, and they certainly did here.

Audio ***

Anchor Bay continues to be the leading studio in terms of boldly remixing older audio tracks for 5.1 sound.  Though this picture isn’t quite as lively as their most outstanding efforts, Evil Dead II and The Beyond, there still is a fair amount of activity going on, including selective and discreet use of the rear stages and harnessing the .1 channel to give the groaning zombies some otherworldly bottom end.  There is nothing timid about they way this studio creates a multi-channel remix, and I, for one, applaud their efforts.

Features **1/2

The highlight of the disc is a 20 minute interview with director Jorge Grau, which shed quite a bit of light on certain aspects of the film.  It turns out, he had a rather intriguing idea about a movie where a vain woman maintains an eternally youthful appearance by murdering virgins and bathing in their blood.  I wanted to see that film as much as he obviously wanted to make it, but the Italian company who hired the Spanish director kept telling him they wanted another Night of the Living Dead.  Grau liked that movie, of course, but never could understand the point of basically rehashing it (and neither could I).  What he said made a lot of sense in terms of where the picture fell short.  He also introduces the movie at the beginning, and makes mention of the film’s many titles…I couldn’t tell if he was proud of that or lamenting it.  Then there is a TV spot and two radio ads, coupled with a poster gallery.

Summary:

As a horror fan, I’m positive there’s an audience for this film…maybe even a following of some kind.  I’m just not amongst them.  However, I’m still grateful to Anchor Bay for making films like this available on high quality DVDs, because, as I always say, fans of the genre deserve nothing less.