Jorge Grau, the Spanish director behind such cult horror classics as Legend of Blood Castle (1973) and The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (1974), has passed away at the age of 88. The news of Grau's death was originally tweeted by British horror editor Johnny Mains before being picked up by filmmaker Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World).
"This is one of my fav zombie films of them all; a genuinely chilling UK set horror," Wright wrote of Manchester Morgue. "I have the Spanish poster (No Profanar El Sueño De Los Muertos) on my wall at home. RIP to the great Jorge Grau."
Born in Barcelona, Spain, on October 27, 1930, Grau wrote scripts for radio programs before making the switch to film. He studied moviemaking at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome, which was established just five years after his birth.
One of his first industry jobs was as an assistant director on José Luis Sáenz de Heredia's historical epic Ten Ready Rifles ("Diez fusiles esperan") in 1959. His 1967 romance feature, A Love Story, nabbed him a win at the San Sebastián Festival.
During the grindhouse and exploitation boom of the 1970s, Grau directed some of his most popular works, particularly the aforementioned horror movies.
The Legend of Blood Castle ("Ceremonia sangrienta") tells the story of an elderly Countess (based on the real-life Elizabeth Báthory) who discovers she can de-age herself via the blood of younger women. Once she gets the taste for murder and eternal youth, she cannot stop killing virgins.
The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (aka "Let Sleeping Corpses Lie," "Don't Open the Window," and "No profanar el sueño de los muertos") revolves around a town in which the dead have come back to life. The cause of such resurrections is revealed to be a pesticidal farming machine that utilizes radiation and ultrasonic waves to kill insects.
According to Glenn Kay's Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide, Grau was asked by the producers to rip off George Romero's Night of the Living Dead (1968), the difference being that Morgue would be filmed in color.
Even so, "Grau did his best to add more realism to the fantastical story and even studied autopsy photographs to mimic the look of real cadavers," Kay writes. "His hard work paid off, making this film the most effective and disturbing Spanish production of the period."