Title: Hell of the Living Dead (1980)
Director: Bruno Mattei, Claudio Fragasso
It’s kind of hard to believe that four people hold writing credits for this completely nonsensical film, but yeah, four brains got together to write this stupid, stupid film! Normally you’d think that the more writers the better the movie should be, but truth is that in Hollywood the rule of thumb is the more writers, the worse the movie. This is certainly the case here, this movie blows! Yes my friends, this movie is awful, but in that Italian horror sense that also makes it completely watchable? This is the reason why you’ll find people that will tell you this film rules and in a strange sort of way, it does. Yes my friends, this is yet another “so bad its good” flick from those money loving horror directors of Italy. And by money loving I’m talking about directors Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso two guys who just loved to make cheap knock offs of American films to make a quick buck. These guys knew these films were so sleazy and low grade that they always used pseudonyms for these films, which is why instead of saying this film was directed by Claudio Fragasso and Bruno Mattei, the title screen says ‘Directed by Vincent Dawn’, as if they were ashamed at the film they just produced;. chances are they probably were. These films would get made at lightning fast speeds and with very little money, the results would usually be the kind of film we’ll be talking about today, the nonsensical (yet entertaining just for that) Hell of the Living Dead a.k.a. ‘Virus’ a.k.a. ‘Night of the Zombies’ a.k.a. ‘Zombie Creeping Flesh’ a.k.a. ‘Zombie Inferno’.
The story goes something like this: a chemical leak has taken place in a chemical plant in New Guinea. The air borne chemical spreads all over the land, bringing the dead back to life. As chaos spreads throughout New Guinea, a swat team of four men is sent to investigate this situation. I thought it was funny how there’s talk of zombie threat in New Guinea and all that gets sent in are four SWAT team members? For a whole zombie threat? What the --? But whatever, so these guys are sent in and apparently left for dead because they’ve lost contact with whomever it was that sent them; I’m guessing it was the U.S. Government. These crazy SWAT guys end up meeting with a crew of two documentarians who are here to investigate what’s going on in New Guinea. For whatever the reason, they end up together for the rest of the film; together they must try and uncover the mystery behind the appearance of zombies in New Guinea.
Hell of the Living Dead was shot in Spain and Italy but in order to give the illusion that the film takes place in New Guinea, the filmmakers spliced in all this random stock footage of wild animals flying and jumping from trees and running through the wilderness. This stock footage is pretty funny because it appears randomly at any given moment in the film, so it’s like, we’ll have these characters talking and suddenly, there’s a monkey jumping from tree top to tree top! Characters walk a bit and then we get a gazelle flying, then, a stampede of elephants, then, a fox eating a rabbit and so on, it’s a cheap-o way to make your film longer. They even used stock footage of real life tribes conducting their rituals. Most of the time, whenever we see tribes men dancing and running, what we’re actually seeing is footage from a documentary called ‘La Valle’.
I’m afraid that with the kind of film that Hell of the Living Dead is, this is going to be the kind of review that makes fun of how nonsensical and stupid everything is on this film, so excuse me for that, but I just can’t help myself. So these zombies are the chemical kind, and since this chemical is airborne, it spreads all through out New Guinea, reaching deep into the desserts and forest and turning even the Indian tribes that live within into zombies. The first time we meet these tribes, they are conducting a burial of some kind. The lady documentarian says she knows how to deal with these cannibal tribes because she’s lived with them before, so she immediately strips which I thought was hilarious, because she strips right in front of these horny SWAT guys,which by the way apparently have nothing to say about this naked lady. Then, she puts on some body paint (which she apparently always keeps handy) and then goes mingling amongst the tribe. This scene was so sleazy; it was obviously just an excuse for some nudity! She could have done just the same with her clothes on, but whatever. A few minutes after that, the SWAT guys meet up with her and the tribe and all hell breaks loose when the dead guy that the tribe is burying comes to life and starts infecting the whole tribe. It turns into a full blown gorefest of a scene, in this respect I must say that the film does not disappoint, there’s tons of gore.
Earlier I mentioned that this film was a rip off, and it is. It’s a rip off of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978). This is blatantly obvious when we see that some scenes are almost identical . Let’s see, we get little kid zombies, we get a SWAT team, a hostage situation…they even stumble upon a priest, who ends up being a zombie, mimicking that scene where the SWAT team guys in Dawn of the Dead stumble upon that freaky priest. We get scientists and politicians talking on television trying to solve the zombie situation. The main characters work on television and so on. But of course, this film is also NOTHING like Dawn of the Dead, because Dawn of the Dead was never a comedy which is basically what Hell of the Living Dead feels like to me. Funniest part is that it was all unintentional; it’s obvious these guys didn’t know they were making such a hilarious movie, but they did it anyways. The comedy comes from how stupid these characters are and the dialog they say. For example, it is made abundantly clear that in order to kill these zombies you have to shoot them in the head, yet the characters keep shooting an exorbitant amount of bullets in the chest! It makes you feel like screaming out loud to these stupid characters, they’d save so much ammo if they simply shot one bullet to the head, but no, they empty a whole machine gun in every other body part that isn’t the head! Even after a character has screamed it and showed them how effective it is to shoot them in the head.
Want funnier stuff? Well, how about the fact that some zombies are repeated during the film? We’ll see a zombie in this scene here, then cut to another scene somewhere else and there’s the same actor playing the same zombie! Ha ha ha! Hilarious! How about a SWAT team member who in the middle of a zombie attack decides to put on a Tu-tu and start dancing and singing “Singing in the Rain”? How about motor boats that are simply lying around on the beach waiting for the protagonists to arrive? How about the fact that characters seem to simply wait around for the zombies to grab them? Arrgh this annoyed the hell out of me! I’m like run, don’t just stand there waiting for all those zombies to grab ya! Ha ha…hows about the fact that this films borrows the soundtrack from Dawn of the Dead and Alien Contamination (1980)? Ha hah….How about the fact that characters never seem to run out of bullets? EVER? And the dialog? It’s pure cheesy brilliance. For example, when a group of characters stumble upon a building one of them says: “Buildings have people in them, we’d better go investigate” I mean the hilarity is never ending with this movie and therefore it’s watchable just for that; its empty calories of the zombie kind.
Rating: 2 out of 5