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Starring: Andre Morell, Diane Clare, Brook Williams, Jacqueline Pearce, John Carson, Alexander Davion
Screenplay: Peter Bryan
Director: John Gilling
Returned from years spent in Haiti (pronounced Ha-EE-tee in the movie), Squire Clive Hamilton begins practicing voodoo secretly in his 1800s Cornish village. Dr. Peter Thompson finds many of the townspeople dying at an alarming rate and sends for his friend, Sir James Forbes’, help. They find that not only has Hamilton raised the dead as zuvembies in order to work on his old mine, he’s also able to control the living with fetish dolls and blood samples, including Sir James’ daughter, Sylvia. They have to stop the zuvembies and Hamilton in order to save Sylvia.
This one is underrated in the Hammer Films canon, probably due to not having as popular of monsters as vampires, mummies or Frankenstein, as well as not having the services of either Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing. And it’s true, the setpieces aren’t that exciting, and the zombies are pretty tame by today’s standards. They’re not rotting and skeletal, just gray-skinned. But director Gilling stages the action scenes effectively, particularly a fight in Hamilton’s burning mansion, and unlike a lot of Hammer films, there is some subtext, particularly themes of British colonialism and exploitation. Hamilton experienced an amazing culture and learned its secrets, and then put it to use for shabby, small-minded ends.