Hell of the Living Dead
By: CJ on June 18, 2002  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Anchor Bay (USA). All Regions, NTSC. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English 2.0. 103 minutes
The Movie
Director: Vincent Dawn (Bruno Mattei)
Starring: Margrit Evelyn Newton, Franco Giraldi, Selan Karay, Robert O'Neil, Gaby Renom, Josep Lluís Fonoll, Piero Fumelli, Bruno Boni, Patrizia Costa, Cesare Di Vito, Sergio Pislar
Screenplay: J.M. Cunilles, Claudio Fragasso Music: Goblin
Country: Italy
Year: 1981
AKA: Night of the Zombies, Zombie Creeping Flesh, Virus, Zombie Inferno, Cannibal Virus
O Great Bruno Mattei! We worship thee! Your Might and Majesty shineth to all men!

So you don't think that Mattei is a genius, huh? You cannot recognise that he is a master of his craft? Given the appalling script and ultra-low budget - you tell me who else could have pulled this off and made this movie even half as entertaining? No one! Only Mattei was capable of such ingenuity. For that fact alone he is to be applauded and venerated. All hail Mattei! God of the B Movie!

So what's all the fuss about? Zombies, zombies and more zombies - that's what all the fuss is about! Mattei presents us with the undead in spades. He is unsparing in his living dead-ness. And the plot? Well, the plot is paper-thin (who cares?) and tells of a chemical leak in a Third World country and the natives have become the walking dead. A SWAT team is dispatched to solve the problem and along the way pick up a female anthropologist who delights in stripping off at every opportunity - not that we're complaining. They arrive at the source of the leakage and discover the truth; the chemical is designed for population control - to literally let the people consume each other and thus reducing the populace. What an ingenuous twist! We bow to your superior mind, Bruno..

The film is full of classic sequences. We see an empty corridor..the pounding music kicks in...we expect something BIG to happen..2 SWAT members.(yes a mere 2 SWAT members) not so much burst through the door as casually stroll in trying to look as if they're bursting in. Bit of an anti-climax really. And when our intrepid travellers happen across a native tribe there is only one way to deal with them - yes, our heroine must strip naked and prance about amongst the stock footage trying to look non-threatening. The film is full of memorable moments like this..

This film has everything you could ask for; appallingly bad dialogue; outrageous gore; gratuitous nudity; tribal rituals; National Geographic stock footage and zombies by the truckload. A classic! Not to be missed!

Once again I urge you to put down that Hollywood Blockbuster and purge yourself of its evil by renting/buying this instead. You may be disappointed, but the effects of a Mattei can take up to a year later to be felt. It's a slow acting delirium - but it will get you in the end.

Anchor Bay have presented a gem on DVD for us here in an unrivalled high quality transfer. Absolutely faultless in every respect.

What are you waiting for - go and buy it!
Anchor Bay have done a superb job with the transfer with this film - it looks outstanding! There is the occasional bit of graininess in places, but this mostly during the sequences of inserted stock footage, which looks a little out of place anyway. But this is cool, because you can then invite your friends round and play 'Spot the stolen footage' - in fact, it's a fun game for all the family to play! This film is never going to look any better than it does on this DVD. Anchor Bay have done a top job on Mattei's masterwork.
The disc comes with a single English Dolby Digital Mono track. But this is more than adequate and has a surprising depth and clarity to it. Goblin's score (comprised of tracks from other sources) sounds great and the dialogue is crisp, clear and perfectly audible.
Extra Features
There is an entertaining on-screen interview with Bruno Mattei (which also appears on AB's Rats - Night of Terror disc). There is also a Mattei bio, stills gallery and a theatrical trailer. Although not a great deal, it's still cool that Anchor bay have at least taken the time to interview Mattei and unearth at least a handful of extra features.
The Verdict
This is an absolute classic and must be owned by every horror fan on the face of the planet! Is it cinematic trash? Of course it is, but there are not many films that contain this high level of entertainment value. I loved every appalling, trashy second of it. Anchor Bay have done a first rate job with the transfer and you really should take the opportunity to own this film from the golden age of Italian horror. Fantastic!
Movie Score
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