Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hell of the Living Dead

Hell of the Living Dead 1980
Director: Bruno Mattei
Writers: Bruno Mattei, Jose Maria Caniles, Rosella Drudi and Claudio Fragasso
Starring Margit Evelyn Newton, Franco Garofalo, Selan Karay, Jose Gras, Gabriel Renom, Josep Lluis Fonoli and Victor Israel

The sub genre of Italian zombie films is a long one and for every good one there is 10 bad ones, but some of these films are just laughably bad and retain a certain fondness to them. Hell of the Living Dead is one of those films in my book. Though the film is laughably made and a obvious rip off of Romero's Dawn of the Dead, even going so far as using the same Goblin soundtrack. It is a poorly done film, without much thought put into it and yet somehow it is still a fun movie> As far as bad zombie films go it ranks up there with Burial Ground: Nights of Terror. The film also uses stock footage to pad the film and it shows. The cast is laughable, and it really works in the films favor. The female lead is very attractive and doffs her clothes off for the most ludicrous reason and it somehow works. The gore in the film for the most part is pretty cheesy, but it definitely has its moments, such as the tongue ripping and face ripping scene at the end. That scene alone makes this a film worth repeated viewings. This film has some laughably bad scenes that if you were stoned I think you would die from laughter at this film.
The plot basics are this, in Papua, New Guinea there is a chemical spill at the Hope Centre that turns the staff into flesh eating zombies. A 4 man hit squad is sent in led by Mike London (Jose Gras) to contain the problem. They encounter a TV news crew led by celebrity reporter Lea (Newton) and she is investigating what has happened. Soon, it becomes clear that the entire country is overrun with zombies and Lea and the hit squad need to find a way to contain the situation before the human race is eradicated by the ravenous flesh eaters. But will they be able to adapt and survive or will they become tomorrow's lunch.
This is a laughably bad film. The direction by Mattei is pitiful, there is no flow to the scenes of the film. It goes from nature stock footage too films of zombies running amok. This would be bad in any case, but it just makes the viewer scratch his head and wonder what the hell is going on. The zombie attack scenes are one of the better choreographed things in the film and when zombies attack it becomes a really fun film to watch. The script is paper thin. It tries to make some point about 3rd world famine, but the story is so bad that you hardly even notice. There is not much characterization, you just go from scene to scene putting the characters in more outlandish situations as the film progresses. The most idiotic thing is when one of the soldiers decides to pick up a cane and don a top hat and do his own rendition of "Singing in the Rain" while zombies are attacking. The cast is laughably bad as well. Newton as Lea is basically just there for eye candy and it shows. Gras as London is paper thin too, but it works for the film. The SFX and effects are quite cheesy but fun. I really loved the climax of the film with the face demolishing, I still get a thrill every time I see that. Finally, the score lifted right out of Dawn of the Dead is ludicrously funny to witness in this film. With music as superior as that you would think it would ante up the quality of the film, but it just makes the film that much worse. This is a pitifully bad zombie film, but if you are in the right frame of mind it can be a very enlightening experience.
This one gets 4 out of 5

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