Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hell Of The Living Dead (1980)

They say one man's trash is another man's treasure. For me, one of those "treasures" is Bruno Mattei's 1980 zombie flick "Hell of the Living Dead." An ineptly acted, written (by usual cohort Claudio Fragasso) and directed film to say the least, it still manages to find a place in my heart in spite of and because of its many deficiencies.

After a chemical leak in Papua New Guinea turns the staff into flesh eating zombies, a S.W.A.T. team lead by Mike London (José Gras) are sent to investigate the scene. In the process, they run into a TV News team lead by the gorgeous Lia Rousseau (Margit Evelyn Newton), only to discover that the entire country has been infected with this undead plague? Can they escape before it's too late? What exactly was going on in this chemical plant?

From beginning to end, "Hell of the Living Dead" is an exercise in cinematic incompetence. From the random, completely inappropriate stock footage from nature documentaries and mondo films, the "borrowed" music from Goblin, to the hilariously bad dubbed in dialogue (which doesn't seem to take itself seriously), this is the antithesis of good film making. It's like the director of "Robot Monster" traveled to the future and directed a zombie movie in Italy. And you know what? I can't help but enjoy it.

It's a bad movie, but dammit if it isn't fun. While it could use a little trimming (103 minutes is a bit long), the movie is never boring. Its energetic enough, with all of the poor directorial choices and poor writing actually enhancing the experience. The gore is abundant and pretty effective too (dig that tongue ripping followed by eye gouging through the mouth), as are the gnarly zombie effects. I quite like the dead here, as they are like a mix of the standard Romero style zombie, but with an almost ghostly appearance to them. Plus, it still provides a few curve balls along the way that should keep the viewer interested. Among them
  • Franco Garofalo as S.W.A.T. team member Zontaro. Seriously, the man is so over the top it's amazing. You feel like you're watching a movie with a man hoped up on cocaine, daring zombies to bite him while blasting away at them.
  • An adorable kitten leaping out of a corpse. Hey, at least it was a kitten.
  • In the show stopping moment, one of the S.W.A.T. guys finds a ballerina outfit, and what do ya know, decides to wear it. Why? It's never explained why. He just does. That pretty much defines the movie too: Little of this make a whole lot of sense, but it just happens, and you go with it.
In the field of Italian horror, this is not one of the best examples. However, I still find a place for it in my heart, bad movie making and all. If anything, it deserves two ratings

As an actual movie: 0.5/10

As a so bad it's good movie: 7.5/10

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