Hell Of The Living Dead (1980)
aka VIRUS, aka NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES
Directed by: Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn)/Claudio Fragasso (uncredited
Written by: José María Cunillés/Rossella Drudi (uncredited)/Claudio Fragasso/Bruno Mattei
No, this isn’t the crappy Jamie Leigh Curtis movie from the late 90s. In the 80s even she would have turned this one down.
A military task force goes into New Guinea to find out what’s going on with the Hope Project. Apparently, it’s making zombies. We know that from the first scene, but no one else does. All the task force (led by a guy who looks a bit like Lee Majors) knows is that a group of terrorists asked for it to be shut down. Now they’re stuck in the jungle with a hot reporter and her assistant (James Taylor?).
There’s the story. That’s it. No more. It’s zombie shooting gallery from then on.
Director Bruno Mattel (who has at least one more movie on the Nasty list) obviously had NO CLUE what he was doing. Even Ed Wood would have slapped him around a bit. First off, I don’t think flamingos gobble like turkeys. Just sayin’. He then uses so much stock footage (including the flamingos) that it probably would have been cheaper to recreate some of it. They certainly had enough extras. It would have been more realistic if they had. Instead, we have a mishmash of stock footage and a girl obviously walking around an empty village that is supposed to be teeming with mourners. There’s even a scene at the UN where dialogue is “spoken” by the stock footage. That’s fun.
Italians have always been pretty notorious for not caring about child characters, but ol’ Bruno decides to not even SHOW the only kid in the movie until about seven minutes into his scene. We see the top of his head and a wound on his stomach, but never a full shot of him. Everyone’s talking about him. We hear him breathing. But we don’t really see him. He’s a plot device, not a character.
My favorite scene (besides when James Taylor finally gets it) is the Barbara Bush zombie with a kitty surprise. Supposed to be scary and gross? I dunno. I laughed my ass off. And there’s always the scene where the hot reporter (who lived with the natives for a year) says, “I have to go ahead…alone.” Then she immediately takes off her top. The next shot she’s leading Steve Austin and his men to the village dressed only in a few leaves and paint.
Sigh. I can’t wait to see SS Extermination Love Camp. Could it be worse than this?
I will say this for Hell Of The Living Dead, though. It’s probably more enjoyable than movies like Cannibal Holocaust or Cannibal Ferox just because it’s so inept that it’s laughable. The gore is alright (except where it’s obvious that they’re holding a piece of raw meet against someone’s leg), but the comedy is better.
And…um. The last bit of gore inflicted on our main characters is just a bit unnecessary. I mean REALLY unnecessary.