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Hell of the Living Dead

Director: Bruno Mattei
Cast: Franco Garofalo, Margit Evelyn Newton, Selan Karay
Running time: 99 minutes
Rating: Un-rated

Story: An accident at a plant in New Guinea releases a nasty virus, transforming innocents into flesh-munching zombies. A SWAT team is sent in to investigate and when they get there the place is crawling with zombies.

Review: Over the last several years, countless foreign horror films have been restored and released uncut for us lovers of the terrifying and shocking to enjoy. You could argue that some of these pieces of celluloid were better off lost and forgotten. Some are so bad that you'll want to burn the copy of the film and then poke out your eyes for viewing such a monstrosity. But of course there are plenty that are actually worth your time and hard earned movie. And then there are those that fall somewhere in between. Films so bad you can't help but sit all the way through them, and can't help but enjoy them on some level.

Late Italian horror and action film director Bruno Mattei alias Vincent Dawn, David Hunt, George Smith, etc. is known for making such films. Ones like 'Rats: Night of Terror' and 'Zombi 3' are some of the most inept, yet strangely entertaining horror films of the 80s. But before these he unleashed a film so deliriously bad that it has to be seen to be believed. Now I first saw 'Hell of the Living Dead' on VHS under the plain title 'Night of the Zombies.' It didn't look like it would be something really great, but I was compelled to buy it anyway.

And I'm happy to say I didn't regret it. Don't get me wrong though, this is not an example of quality filmmaking. This is a film bad for so many reasons, but it's just so entertaining for it. It's the type of film you should watch one night with your buddies while drinking copious amounts of alcohol. The level of stupidity that permeates the film will make the experience that much more fun.

First of all, the score is really good. The bad news is that it's stolen from 'Dawn of the Dead' and 'Contamination.' One thing that could make or break this film is the pace. Fortunately it moves along fast and smoothly. Wouldn't be a zombie film without buckets of gore, and there's plenty of it here. It's red, nasty, and dripping with blood. Despite the obvious difference in image quality, the stock footage is a nice touch.

There's plenty of stuff to laugh at, like the overacting and stupidity of the characters. Actually shot in New Guinea or not, the scenery is really beautiful. Anything else good to say about this film? Um...oh yeah, the finale will leave your jaw on the floor. Had it not been for all of this, this would merely be a bad film to be avoided.

The cast members really overdo it at times, the most guilty being Franco Garofalo. Plus the majority of the dialogue is laughable. One of the actors actually says, "Up your ass. Lieutenant Mike London, Shit Creek. The year is now." I'm no making this up. As if hearing putrid lines like that wasn't bad enough, we also have to watch these guys do some really stupid things. Fans of zombie movies will see that this is highly derivative of better ones, like 'Dawn of the Dead.'

Lastly, though never boring the film does go on a bit longer than it should have. 90 minutes or less would have been enough time to tell this tale. Flaws aside, this is classic trash that is recommended for those who have a taste for the most extreme of Italian horror films. It's a rip-off of better films, yet it's unlike any film you've ever seen.

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