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Monday, August 27, 2012

Hell of the Living Dead (1980)

Italian director Bruno Mattei is no Lucio Fulci or Dario Argento.  He's no George Romero either.  But he stole all his material from all three with less than impressive results.  Let's start with Romero.  Mattei's zombies have the same sensibility about them as Romero's do from Dawn on the Dead.  Cheesy green make-up and torn flesh gags appear at every turn but Tom Savini did them better in Dawn and made it all seem more terrifying.  Mattei also stole Goblin's music, sometimes note for note, from Dario Argento's cut of "Dawn of the Dead."  Guess he couldn't afford to pay Goblin to write new songs so be simply used them over.  Finally, he tried to get a little creative with the look of the zombies, moving beyond the green make up a time or two.  But he couldn't reach the artistic heights that Fulci did in Zombi 2 which was his sequel to Night of the Living Dead.

The other thing that doesn't work well with Hell of the Living Dead is that it is mostly set in the jungles of Papua New Guinea with lots of open space.  In the Holy Trinity of Romero films [Night, Dawn and Day], each was set in a confined space [House, Mall, Underground Complex].  This helped to intensify the sense of dread in each of the films.  Mattei's sets are too open and the zombies are too easy to run away from in a number of scenes.  This leaves the audience watching the action from afar instead of being cramped in a confined space with the zombies.  Yawn!

I really wanted this film to be good but I was unimpressed in the end.  Perhaps I was having an off night when I watched it but I do know my zombie films that this one was, well, less than spectacular.

RATING: Fair.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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