From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Plague Of The Zombies

It’s almost Halloween and what better way to spend this spooky time of the year than with Hammer Horror and their 1966 undead romp Plague Of The Zombies! Hammer is much like Universal.  They both brought the world classic movie monsters, and each did it with their own touch and style that entertained and scared moviegoers for decades. With Titan Comics dropping the ball on their Hammer Horror comic line, I have decided to go back to and make a custom comic taken from the Hammer House Of Horror Magazine in order to cover a classic Hammer Horror for a From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update this Halloween season. So if you’re ready to enter the world of gothic horror, lets take a look at Plague Of The Zombies and all the horrors of voodoo it brings with it.

Before we travel to deep into the undead voodoo cursed world of Plague Of The Zombies, we should take a look at the killers that roam this film and comic. The main villain is the voodoo priest Squire Clive Hamilton who once lived in Haiti and learned the black art of voodoo and has used it on the villagers of his new hometown in England. He is able to use his evil ways and make the deaths seem like sickness and later make the dead rise and become his zombie slaves who will do his bidding. Hamilton himself uses his voodoo power to deal out death as well as fear to his targeted victims; he also has a short temper and lashes out when angry showing he is a man who can also use his hands to cause damage. Besides his zombies, Hamilton also has a batch of humans who also do his bidding. But Hamilton is just a man and this makes him have weakness like any other man as he can die by any means of violence and his temper and ego also leaves him open to mistakes. The zombies are slow moving grim messengers of terror who do not have a mind of their own leaving them to do the bidding of their master who mostly has them work for him in the mines near his house. But while they are mostly workers, they will also attack the living if given the commands to and can easily strike fear into the hearts of victims with their grey/greenish skin, white eyes, twisted cold faces and weird noises! They also move very quietly giving them the element of surprise and use their bare hands to choke the life out of the living. They can attack in packs or by themselves and when together they can over whelm their victims for an easy kill. Being undead does not mean they cannot be killed again as they can die by beheading, fire and damage to the voodoo dolls that made them into controllable zombies. While Hamilton and his zombies are not as brutal or bloodthirsty as some of the other killers we have looked at in a From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update, they still are a very deadly combo who have made their mark on those they crossed their paths.

So now that we have taken a look at Squire Clive Hamilton and his voodoo zombies we should take a look at the film they come from, Plague Of The Zombies, that was released at the peak of Hammer Horrors popularity before the 70’s and a change in the world of Horror Movies closed the company’s doors. The film’s plot will be taken from our pals at IMDB with me writing after a little about the films production and my connection and memories of the film. So if you’re ready to dive into the world of zombies powered by voodoo lets get to it.

Plague Of The Zombies (1966)

“Young workers are dying because of a mysterious epidemic in a little village in Cornwall. Doctor Thompson is helpless and asks professor James Forbes for help. The professor and his daughter Sylvia travel to Thomson. Terrible things happen soon, beyond imagination or reality. Dead people are seen near an old, unused mine. Late people seem to live suddenly. Professor Forbes presumes that black magic is involved and someone has extraordinary power. He doesn’t know how close he is: the dead become alive because of a magic voodoo-ritual, and so they must serve their master as mindless zombies…”

Plague Of The Zombies was released in 1966 as part of a double feature alongside “Dracula: Prince Of Darkness” and was a popular double feature at the cinemas. Peter Bryan handled the script with director John Gilling and James Bernard handling the score. The film went into production on July 28, 1965 and was filmed on the same sets as The Reptile and was a pretty normal shoot for Hammer. They also brought in such actors as Andre Morell, Diane Clare and Michael Ripper to lend their talents to the characters. The film was released to theaters in the U.K. on January 9, 1966 with the US release being only three days later. When released and still to this day, the film was well reviewed by fans and critics with many even going as far as saying this movie is the best Hammer has made. I know that many of my friends who really love classic Horror Movies have said that this is one of their favorites. The film was joined in 1966 by these selected other fright flicks Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, Queen Of Blood, Manos: Hands Of Fate and Billy the Kid Versus Dracula showing it was a fun year for fans who enjoyed spooky films at the cinema and drive-ins. Plague Of The Zombies is a great film and those who enjoy classic or British horror should give it a watch.

The first time I got to see this classic Hammer Horror movie was when it came out on VHS, rereleased by Anchor Bay. My brother Bryan bought it and we watched on one of our many all night Horror Movie marathons. I can remember that while the film was very slow much like most of Hammer’s films (wouldn’t have them any other way) it had a great atmosphere and over all creepy vibe that made me enjoy it and go and get the film on DVD when released. And over the years I have watched the film a handful of times on my own as well as with friends who were major fans of Hammer Horror like Chris Workman. This is also one of those films that I have recommended to friends of mine who have gotten into classic horror as I find that it’s a good one to introduce to fans of modern zombie films as this is one that pre-dates the godfather of all zombie films Night Of The Living Dead (1968) and was after the underrated White Zombie from 1932. So while Plague Of The Zombies is not the most popular film among the releases of Hammer, it is one that is a solid and creepy film that is sure to please fans of 60’s and early 70’s gothic horror films. If you have not seen it, do yourself a favor and track it down on VHS, DVD or Blu-Ray and give it a watch. I want to also say that this film is in my top 10 best Hammer Horror films! Plus need to say that the score done by James Bernard is great and well sounding and fits so well for this film.

So as you can see this aging Monster Kid has lots of respect for Plague Of The Zombies and Hammer Horror in general as I found it a great source of classic style monsters done with more blood, busty female cleavage, color and gothic atmosphere then before, plus they picked up vampires, werewolves, zombies and Frankenstein’s Monster after Universal had drifted away from that type of Horror and was more into the atomic age horror and giant insects. But before we get into this custom comic book I want to thank Juliet Fromholt for formatting the pages while we were on vacation at Monster Bash and Eric Shonborn for putting it all together to be printed! I also want to thank Amanda for printing this comic making this update possible. I want to also let you all know that I read and reviewed this comic while sitting in Calvary Cemetery to help add to the over all spooky mood of this comic experience. And now I need to remind you readers that I am grading this comic on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready, lets travel to the cemetery and see why voodoo and zombies do mix!

Plague Of The Zombies # 1  ***
Released in 1978    Cover Price 35p.   Top Sellers      # 1 of 1

Dr. Sir James Forbes and his daughter Sylvia are headed toward the small own of Tarleton on the request of one of his former students Peter who is the town’s acting doctor and is puzzled by the rash of unexplained deaths. While the father and daughter travel, they pass a fox hunting party and Sylvia gives them the wrong direction on purpose, causing the hunters to make a scene in town when they all arrive during a funeral even knocking over the casket and causing the body to roll out! The townspeople are not pleased and this of course angers the dead man’s brother who blames the young woman for causing the scene. Once at the home of Peter, they also see that his wife Alice seems to not be feeling well and Peter explains that for some reason people just keep dying and the cause is unknown and the townspeople will not help in finding out the reason. That night James and Peter hit up the local cemetery and find that the grave of the young man buried that morning is empty! Sylvia follows Alice into the woods as her friend is acting weird and is heading toward the old tin mine shafts, but before she can catch up with her friend Sylvia is kidnapped by the hunters she tricked and they take her back to the mansion home of Clive Hamilton the town’s squire who is not pleased at the behavior of his hired hands. Once back on the dark roads, Sylvia finds the body of her friend Alice as well as sees the zombie of the young man buried that morning! Peter is heartbroken over the death of his wife and even feels worse when he and James witness her rise from her grave and they are forced to chop off her head. Meanwhile Sylvia is visited by Clive who by “accident” scratches the young woman with his ring and this causes her to think about him all the time. James and Peter soon find out that Clive is a voodoo priest who is causing the deaths as he is making zombies to work for him in the tin mine shafts, and they go to his mansion to stop him. While inside the mansion, James fights with one of the hunters and during the fight a fire breaks out, meanwhile Sylvia in a trance is now in the grip of Clive who is going to sacrifice her to please his dark lords! But all ends well when the fire sets the voodoo dolls on fire that causes the zombie to be ablaze.  They turn on Clive who is eaten and burnt to death at the same time. In the end the town is safe, and James, Sylvia and Peter all walk away heroes.

I need to first start off by saying that Plague Of The Zombies is one of the Hammer Horror movies that lends itself really well to be a comic book adaptation and series, and Titan Comics really dropped the ball on not choosing this title to be a part of their very short lived Hammer Horror Comics line. The plot of this Horror Comic has a father and daughter going to a small town to try and help figure out why people are dying, only to uncover a sinister plot that involves voodoo and zombies! Our main hero is James Forbes, an old medical surgeon who wants nothing more than to solve why people are dying and why their graves are empty so close after being buried. He is strong minded and willed and even if he is old, he still will never give up until he solves it. Peter is a doctor who is also a former student of James and is baffled by the mystery of this town he now serves. He is a helpful hand but also is dealing with some bad stuff as his wife has fallen victim to death and being brought back from the dead. Sylvia Forbes is a good hearted person who cares about both humans and animals and becomes a sick pawn in this game of life and undead. And our villain is Clive Hamilton who acts as a caring member of the town even acting as the squire when in reality he is a voodoo priest who is using the town to mine tin in order to become rich and powerful and is killing people to bring back as zombies to do it. I think the fact he is a soulless murderer who allows greed to be his motivation behind taking a human life makes him a real bad guy. I do like the fact he gets what’s coming to him in the end as tons of zombies who are on fire swarm him ending his reign of terror once and for all. The comic has very little blood in it, but does have some gruesome deaths like a beheading and being burned alive. This comic adaptation while a quick read does capture the mood and spooky atmosphere of the film very well and brings a none-gory yet scary Horror Comic to readers who enjoy a classic style fright. The interior artwork is done by the team of Trevor Goring and Brian Bolland and is top-notch stuff and will remind you of artwork used in the Warren horror magazines. While this is a custom comic book, you can find this comic adaptation in the pages of “Hammer’s House Of Horror” and its worth tracking down if you like the film or just enjoy classic horror zombies. Check out the artwork below to see what the art style is and bask in its creepiness.

Hammer Horror will always be the bar just behind Universal Monsters when it comes to classic movie monsters, and they, just like Universal, deserve more comics based on their characters. I mean in a prefect Horror Comic world, we would have ongoing series based on Dracula, Frankenstein, Werewolves, Mummy and Creatures from both companies and would be must reads for old school Monster Kids. Well I hope that Plague Of The Zombies helped add to your countdown to Halloween as it was a fun one for me to cover for sure. For our next update we will take a look at another “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” update about the 2003 monster movie Darkness Falls! So this dark night make sure you stay clear of your local abandoned mine as who knows what kind of zombies are lurking around looking for a new victim to become just like them. So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a horror movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you readers and friend’s next update for a creepy good time with the Tooth Fairy.

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