Hell of the Living Dead aka Zombie Creeping Flesh (1980, Bruno Mattei)
What’s this? An Italian zombie movie you say? Well, sign me right up, I love those. Zombi, Demons, The Beyond, they’re all great. Pardon? It’s directed by who? Bruno Mattei? Oh fuck off then.
Just fuck right off.
Easily the lamest of the Dawn of the Dead rip-offs, this laughable, cack-handed garbage has eluded me for years, and I wish it had continued to do so. Scientists working at the comically named Hope Centre accidentally unleash a gas that brings the dead to life…WITH TERRIFYING CONSEQUENCES.
It begins with a pair of eggheads deep in the kind of scientific debate that is impenetrable to us normal folk.
“She may not know much about chemistry, but she knows what to do in bed.”
“I’m not surprised, that cute little ass.”
“Ha, I’m more of a tit man myself.”
Jeez guys, can it with the scientific mumbo jumbo already!
We then meet our heroes in a direct lift from Dawn of the Dead, where a SWAT team is laying siege to a building. These guys are the best of the best, the toughest of the tough, the kind of elite, crack squad of bad-asses you only find in 80s Italian action movies.
Crikey, it looks like Dario Argento’s buff older brother (Let’s call him Mario Argento) and Woody Allen.
Here’s a great shot of our unflappable boys in action. The guy on the left seems to be having a stroke and Mario really should be looking where he’s shooting.
Inexplicably, we next find our lads driving through the jungles of Papa New Guinea, where they meet a reporter and her cameraman.
The reporter, Lia, is a handy addition to the squad. Upon encountering a small village of natives, she does what any of us would do and strips off, wearing only a thong made from leaves. Thank goodness she remembered to pack that!
There then follows a twenty – TWENTY- minute sequence that is comprised almost entirely of stock footage, including animals being gutted and what appears to be a real life human corpse.
That’s some way to suck the fun out of your stupid little movie, Bruno.
Once the stock footage ends, our heroes find themselves beset by more zombies and a massacre ensues, with their bullets mostly hitting innocent villagers.
Luckily, there’s an old jungle saying –
If lost in the jungle, just drive in a straight line. Eventually,
you will come to a children’s play area in an Italian park.
Wow, it’s true!
Did I mention that the score is just Goblin’s music recycled from Dawn of the Dead and Contamination?
At one point, the heroine says –
“It’s terrible…those poor people can’t possibly understand what’s going on.”
Could she be talking about us?
From Beyond (1986, Stuart Gordon)
Ah From Beyond, the curiously unloved follow up to Re-Animator. Shot the year after that film by much of the same cast and crew, in many ways From Beyond is a better film, though I’ve always had a preference for horror played straight over horror comedy.
As you can see from the banks of computers and the grey sweater/brown corduroy combo, Jeffrey Combs plays a scientist who unlocks the gateway to an unseen dimension that co-exists with ours…WITH TERRIFYING CONSEQUENCES.
While lacking much of the humour of Re-Animator, From Beyond succeeds on mood and an atmosphere of utter dread, along with the expected slimy gross-out monsters and Barbara Crampton’s boobs.
It also features Dawn of the Dead’s Ken Foree, sporting a slick brown leather jacket and white turtleneck, instantly becoming my 2017 style icon.
Curiously, despite all the heads-being-twisted-off and women in S&M gear, it’s one of the truest onscreen representations of HP Lovecraft’s work I’ve ever seen.
I’m sure he would have hated it, though.
I like horror that’s straight up (or on the blacker comedy scale) more than horror comedies too. I love Stuart Gordon. When he did a QA at HPLFF he said Gasper Noe was one of his favourite directors! I was all bouncing in my seat squeaking Yessssss!! I do have an affection for Mattei films. Have you watched the 70s-80s Philippines exploitation era documentary Machete Maidens Unleashed? Really fun.
Nope! Saw the directors first doc on Ozsploitation though, and it was fantastic. Noe is also one of my favourites, though oddly I never got round to his last film. Will rectify that soon. I wonder if he’ll ever follow through on his claim (ages ago) to be remaking Cannibal Holocaust?