(Bruno Mattei/ Claudio Fragasso, 1980)
"Operation Sweet Death must be considered a complete failure," intones a scientist as the Hope Center research facility is enveloped in a cloud of toxic gas and overrun by a mob of zombies. With a name like Operation Sweet Death, one would assume it was a resounding success, but I digress.
Somewhere else in the world, a group of eco-terrorists have taken hostages and demand that the Hope Centers are shut down. Their plans are foiled, however, by an anti-terrorist task force in a sequence eerily reminiscent of the opening shoot-out in George Romero`s Dawn of the Dead. With this pointless detour aside, the four soldiers (Mike, Vincent, Zantoro, and Osborne) are sent to New Guinea on a new top-secret mission (*stifled giggle*).
We are then introduced to another group of irritating characters, this time two parents (Josie and her bitchy, nameless husband), their ill son, and their reporter friends Lia and Max. Josie`s son has been bitten by a zombie (guess where this is going), and the group have stopped at an abandoned mission to find help (I repeat, guess where this is going). Naturally, they are attacked by the living dead, but Lia and Max are saved in a nick of time by the Fearless Four. They take off into the wilderness, where our lucky viewers are treated to a seemingly endless torrent of stock footage of animals and tribes NOT native to New Guinea.
Lia, in a flash of anthropological genius, advises the group that they can seek help from a nearby tribe, but only after she has introduced herself to them. By introduce I mean she removes her shirt, paints herself up with makeup she just happens to have, and JOGS into the village topless. See it to believe it, folks!
The group are invited to sit around and celebrate (as the forest crawls with zombies, no less), but the party is soon interrupted by the reanimated corpses of the recently dead that are on display in the village. The absolute highlight of this scene is when, after being alarmed by the panicking villagers, one of the soldiers (with gun in hand!) actually pushes a native down as he tries to escape. In the ensuing jeep ride out of the village, the protagonists actually say that the natives had it coming as they kept the corpses of family in town! Politically correct this is NOT!
The remainder of the movie follows our hapless heroes as they drive around, tour empty buildings, drive around, and tap dance in drag before being consumed like screaming cans of Fancy Feast. End of film. Thank Gawd!
Hell of the Living Dead is a racist, sexist, and altogether pointless film. To call it a cheap Dawn of the Dead knock-off would be a disservice to George Romero AND the word cheap! Romero`s not the only one emulated, though, as Mattei and Fragasso also clearly tried to cash-in on the success of Lucio Fulci`s Zombie and City of the Living Dead. They also borrowed most of the music from Goblin`s Zombi and Contamination scores. On a side note, the electronic pieces that were actually created for Hell of the Living Dead are pretty good; now back to the cons.
The acting here is decidedly sub-sub par, and I`m sure cardboard cut-outs of actors could display more range. The dialogue, a continuous source of unintentional hilarity throughout, is daft, offensive, and poorly translated. The story itself is a poorly-conceived hodgepodge of scenes from more popular films that is padded out with nonsensical detours and lapses in logic and continuity. In short, EVERYBODY needs to see this movie! The gore and zombie makeup are actually fairly well-executed, and few viewers can experience Hell of the Living Dead without busting a gut and possibly shedding a tear or two. Buy it here.
4 weeks ago