Hell of the Living Dead (1984)
Otherwise know as “Virus”, “Night of the Zombies”, “Zombie Creeping Flesh” and a bunch of others, “Hell” is a mixed movie. At times it feels like a Cannibal film. Directed by Bruno Mattei (“Rats: Night of Terror”), (under the pseudonym “Vincent Dawn” as he was forced by Spain to do so. Also of note he rarely ever used his real name.) considered by many to be a completely incompetent director, “Hell” is not that bad.
Shot over about five weeks partially in Spain, it has mind boggling dialogue and over-the-top-dubbing, over-the-top-bad acting, bad editing and yes, bad directing and inappropriate usage of stock footage. It also has wonderfully over the top gore. This flick is a hoot and a half. It “appropriates” the Goblin sound track to the European cut of “Dawn of the Dead” titled “Zombi” (Re cut for Europe by Dario Argento). Also music from other Itallian genre flicks like Luigi Cozzi’s “Contamination”. It is apparent that this movie was made to cash in on “Dawn of the Dead” and other films like Lucio Fulci’s “Zombi 2”.
Set somewhere in New Guinea an accident at a chemical plant called HOPE occurs. One man is attacked by what seems to be a rabid rodent. A chemical gas gets out and begins turning the living into the living dead.
Somewhere else a group of terrorists are holding a group of people hostage and a crack para-military SWAT team is summoned to save the day (they just happened to be dressed the same way the military group in “Dawn of the Dead” were. (Another blatant rip-off).
A group of people including a reporter and her camera man, a mother and father and their son stumble across what appears to be an abandoned hospice. Their son has been bitten or infected somehow. The reporter and camera man leave along with the mother. In a truly creepy scene the boy turns and bloodily kills his father.
As the “disease” spreads the military unit are sent out to locate the HOPE center and find out what is going on. This is where our travelers cross paths. From then on it is just an onslaught of flesh-ripping, exploding heads and bullets flying. This is a euro-trash splatter classic.
This movie does have a point to make though. It speaks of overpopulation. Only somewhat nefariously. Instead of trying to find a real solution to overpopulation, HOPE centers are looking into annihilation as a solution.
A quick note, the best scene is where a cute little kitty pops out of a dead woman’s chest after munching on her. Very fun if I do say so myself. Also keep an eye out for one of the SWAT team dancing in a tutu and the reporter donning her birthday suit ridiculously painted to blend in with the natives.
This is the Anchor Bay Uncut and Uncensored version and it runs approximately 103 minutes. Widescreen, trailers and a 9 minute interview with the director where he even states himself that if he could, he would re-shoot all of his movies. I recommend this to all zombie completest’s. It is the quintessential so-bad-it’s-good movie.
– By James