HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980)
aka Night of the Zombies, Virus
Article 5403 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso
Featuring Margit Evelyn Newton, Franco Garofalo, Selan Karay
Country: Italy / Spain
What it is: Italian zombie flick
A chemical plant in New Guinea begins leaking a chemical that causes the dead to turn into cannibalistic zombies. Four commandos team up with two reporters to reach the plant.
A commando carrying two guns is searching the cellar of a house that may be infested with cannibalistic zombies that can only be dispatched by a shot through the head. He finds a wardrobe full of clothes. What does he do? He puts down both of his guns, puts on a tutu and top hat, and does an impromptu song and dance throughout the cellar. It was at this point of the movie that I took a quantum leap in my loss of any desire for the survival of the human race (or, at least of the human race as portrayed in this movie).
For Italian zombie gore fans, this movie must seem like a treat; it starts the zombie action early and keeps a steady stream of it going throughout the whole of it, getting a little ghastlier each time. It’s almost as relentless in its having characters act with jaw-dropping stupidity; outside of the example listed above, the commandos (who find out early on that the zombies can only be defeated by a bullet through the head) insist on taking endless body shots at the rampaging zombies, and while waiting for an elevator to descend and the door to open, they all turn away from it so the zombies inside can take them by surprise. The movie throws in a bit of the jungle cannibal genre and peppers itself with stock footage of animals to fill the running time. I’m not a gorehound, so I spent most of the movie just shaking my head in disbelief. And with as much gore as it has, I have no doubt this film probably has a cult following.