The Dead Are Alive (1972)

THE DEAD ARE ALIVE (1972)
(a.k.a. L’ETRUSCO UCCIDE ANCORA/THE ETRUSCAN KILLS AGAIN)
Article #1516 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-9-2005
Posting Date: 10-6-2005
Directed by Armando Crispino
Featuring Alex Cord, Samantha Eggar, John Marley

When murders are committed in an Etruscan tomb, detectives investigate several suspects, including an alcoholic archaelogist and a bad-tempered conductor.

The reaction you have to a movie is often dependent on your expectations. Given the fact that the title is THE DEAD ARE ALIVE, the alternate title is THE ETRUSCAN KILLS AGAIN, and at least one source talked about the movie in terms of marauding zombies, I went in fully expecting to find a movie about Etruscan living dead. Yet, a little ways into the movie, I began wondering why their was so little mention of the zombies and a lot of time spent on the criminal investigation and the soap-opera love lives of all concerned. It began to dawn on me that either the movie was spinning its wheels or was going in another direction than the one implied by the titles, promotional materials and the various sources. As it turns out, the latter is the case here. It’s still a horror movie, but a very different one than I expected. Yet, I really think the movie would have been more effective if I hadn’t been deceived about the nature of the movie.

Other factors can also affect your reaction to a movie. My print of the movie is splicey, faded, and has really bad sound. The latter is particularly problematic, as certain points of the movie use sound for its shock moments, and when the sound is this bad, it blunts the effect. Being vaguely aware that this moment should have made you jump isn’t the same thing as the moment actually having made you jump. Furthermore, my print seems to be incomplete; the movie ends abruptly before the final credits role and takes you to the DVD menu.

There are other problems with the movie not related to these particular bad circumstances, of course. I think the script is muddled, the characters unlikable, the dialogue quite bad at times. Though the latter is somewhat mitigated by the fact that it’s partially dubbed, this doesn’t change the fact that several of the major characters are speaking English as their native language, and their dialogue is no better. Still, it does have some effective shock moments, and had the other circumstances surrounding my viewing of this movie been different, I might have actually liked it a lot more than I did. As it is, this was a drab and dreary experience.

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