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Exclusive comments, plus art and details: Synapse’s “THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE” Blu-ray Steelbook edition

Tuesday, June 9, 2020 | Exclusive, News


One of the all-time great Eurozombie films (and a favorite of director Edgar Wright), Jorge Grau’s 1974 shocker THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE is now available on a new Blu-ray with a 4K transfer and a grave full of extras.

Synapse Films has just opened up ordering for its three-disc Limited Collector’s Edition Steelbook release of MANCHESTER MORGUE, a.k.a. NO PROFANAR EL SUEÑO DE LOS MUERTOS, LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE and DON’T OPEN THE WINDOW. The film stars Ray Lovelock (AUTOPSY, ALMOST HUMAN) and Christine Galbo (THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE?) as a pair of young travelers who arrive in a small town where an experimental agricultural device appears to be bringing the dead back to life. Arthur Kennedy also stars as a vicious police inspector who believes the duo are responsible for the growing bloodshed. Limited to 6,000 units, the set includes a Blu-ray, a DVD and a remastered CD soundtrack of Giuliano Sorgini’s original score. Restored in full 4K from the original 35mm camera negative and presented in 1080p hi-def 1.85:1 widescreen with a new, exclusive 5.1 English stereo surround remix, the movie is packaged in a special slipcover and Steelbook designed by artist Wes Benscoter. Bonus features are:

  • Two audio commentaries featuring authors and film scholars Troy Howarth, Nathaniel Thompson and Bruce Holecheck
  • Restoration of the true original English-language theatrical mono mix
  • JORGE GRAU–CATALONIA’S CULT FILM KING (89 mins.): Extensive feature-length documentary exploring the life and films of director Jorge Grau (Blu-ray exclusive)
  • “The Scene of the Crime”: Effects creator Giannetto De Rossi in discussion from Manchester (16 mins.) (Blu-ray exclusive)
  • Giannetto De Rossi Q&A at the Festival of Fantastic Films, UK (43 mins.) (Blu-ray exclusive)
  • Theatrical trailer, TV spots and radio spots
  • Newly translated removable English SDH subtitles
  • Liner notes booklet featuring writing by Spanish film scholar Dr. Nicholas Schlegel
  • Poster of Wes Benscoter’s Steelbook artwork painting

The set is priced at $49.95, and can now be ordered exclusively at Synapse’s official website, with all international orders being handled by DiabolikDVD. The projected street date is September 1, with shipping to begin on that date or as soon as the sets are received by Synapse.​

“I have to give credit to my business partner Jerry Chandler for this one,” Synapse Films president Don May Jr. tells RUE MORGUE. “I’ve always liked THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE, but it’s one of Jerry’s favorite zombie movies of all time. I’ve known Jerry since I was 14, and that was one of the first movies he introduced me to. He has the laserdisc from Japan and all this other stuff; he’s a superfan. A licensor contacted us a while back about a bunch of different things, and when Jerry found out that they had MANCHESTER MORGUE, he was like, ‘We want this. We don’t anything else, we want this!’ ” [Laughs]

The materials for MANCHESTER MORGUE were all scanned and the audio digitized at Rome’s legendary Cinecittà Studios, where they had been stored. “The restoration of the original 35mm negative of THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE was an incredibly frustrating task that took over eight months to complete,” May writes in the liner-notes booklet. “The negative was quite worn, with multiple instances of dirt, water damage, glue residue and splices throughout. The 4K scan also revealed at least two shots of the 35mm negative had been replaced with duplicate footage to ‘patch’ damaged areas. Synapse Films took careful steps to ensure the film’s beautifully organic film grain structure was not affected by any computerized restoration or encoding processes.”

May notes to us that THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE was groundbreaking for its time. “When George Romero did NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, he had zombies munching on guts and things like that, but it was in black and white. This movie was six years later and in color, and I don’t recall any other zombie movie made between those years that actually had graphic color depictions of zombies pulling guts out of people and eating them.” The antagonism of Kennedy’s inspector and his police toward the young leads, he adds, makes the movie timely. “There’s a lot of tension with the cops not liking this group of young hippies, which sadly we’re going through today, with people protesting how the police are treating certain groups. You have the grizzled old inspector who doesn’t like the young people, and he’s blaming everything on them because of their hippie-ish ways, thinking they may be killing people and doing witchcraft.”

The ecological aspect of the story, and its tie to the rising of the dead, is also a sign of its time while tying in to current concerns. “Back in the ’70s, there were a lot of ecological horror films,” May says, “so here’s a zombie film where the dead are being raised by something the government is doing to the environment. That’s pretty cool, and it’s just a really powerful film, and a lot of fun. It’s got this really weird, dark humorous streak in it.”

Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold (RUE MORGUE's Head Writer) has been covering the world of horror cinema for over three decades, and in addition to his work for RUE MORGUE, he has been a longtime writer and editor for FANGORIA magazine and its website. He has also written for BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH, SCREAM,, TIME OUT, DELIRIUM, MOVIEMAKER and others. He is the author of the AD NAUSEAM books (1984 Publishing) and THE FRIGHTFEST GUIDE TO MONSTER MOVIES (FAB Press), and he has contributed documentaries, featurettes and liner notes to numerous Blu-rays, including the award-winning feature-length doc TWISTED TALE: THE UNMAKING OF "SPOOKIES" (Vinegar Syndrome).