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Stream to Scream: “Let Sleeping Corpses Lie”

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As many fright fans already know, FANGORIA offers a great selection of gruesome movies, old and new, for free at our Hulu channel. To give you a better idea of what’s available, FANGORIA is taking in-depth looks at some of the channel’s terrifying titles with Stream to Scream. Today: Jorge Grau’s LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE.

When discussing European Horror in the ‘70s, the term “fever dream” could be a general understatement. From the soft lighting to the surreal subject matter, horror films from of Britain, Spain and Italy throughout that decade contained a phantasmagorical atmosphere, as if spawned from a strange, colorful dream. But these films also became notorious for their relentless, and often brutal, terror, which were a nightmare of their own for various censoring bodies.

LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE, or known in our Hulu print under the alternate title THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE, is an exceptional example of these films. Director Jorge Grau is more restrained with violence as opposed to Eurohorror legends like Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento, yet he does deliver during the film’s memorably morose moments. But in that restraint, Grau finds freedom to slowly build effective and haunting scares, even when surrounded by a silly and overwrought narrative catalyst.

The story of the film is a little convoluted, as a woman who helps deliver her sister to rehab runs into a stranger and arrives on the day of her brother-in-law’s murder. Of course, there are the undead, eco-horror and a no-nonsense cop to shake up the narrative and add macabre into the mystery, but European horror fans know that this is on par for the genre. However, the plot, as complicated as it may be, is still gripping, playfully toying with audience expectations to build suspense.

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Director Grau includes many tropes of Eurohorror, from distracting ADR dubbing to repetitive slow zooms, yet Grau feels more artistically unique in his approach. Grau includes better camerawork  than the standard European zombie picture, courtesy of cinematographer Francisco Sempere, and many of his gore moments come from slow realization instead of punctuating viscera. Furthermore, the appropriately silly score from Giuliano Sorgini contributes tonally to the eerie quality of LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE, even at the cost of the film’s more shocking moments.

That same statement can be said of the actors in the film, many of whom go above and beyond the semblance of a realistic performance. Cristina Galbo does a fine job as the lead heroine, delivering likely the most understated performance of the film, while her frequent scene partner, Ray Lovelock, perpetually dishes out goofy machismo. Jeannine Mestre manically thrives in melodrama as Galbo’s drug-addict sister, delivering perhaps the most memorably over-the-top performance of the film. However, Arthur Kennedy gives her a run for her money as the aforementioned police officer, grumbling typical police lines with insane self-righteousness that’s as applaud-worthy as it is cheesy.

Overall, LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE may not be the scariest Eurohorror entry, despite some intense creepiness throughout, but it’s value comes in sheer entertainment. The fantastic strangeness on display, married with a ghoulish atmosphere, sticks with the audience thanks to the unnerving visuals from Grau and Sempere. And while taking the film seriously may be a futile effort, enjoying the film is certainly not, and you may just find yourself rightfully freaked out when all is said and done.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Web Content Manager for FANGORIA, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, a graphic novel and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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