Saturday, January 23

This one doesn't even deserve "quick thoughts"

Talk about an utter piece of garbage, even by trashy Italian living dead standards. Bruno Mattei's 1980 Night of the Zombies (Virus, Hell of the Living Dead, Zombie Creeping Flesh) is definitely one of the worst zombie flicks ever. A waste of 35mm film stock so rancid, so full retard, that it surpasses personal preference into a realm of condemnation usually only reserved for Nazi propaganda. Sure, we all have our own dislikes others would be puzzled by, but I'd hope for the sake of horrordom we could all ban together in unison and let out a big "what the fuck?!?" at this pinnacle of bad zombo pictures.

This is coming from someone who fancies himself some Mattei every now-and-again. The director honed his own "unique" bad filmmaking style over the years and while never making a true great like some of his Italian brethren, shit dude, he made Strike Commando. There's plenty to appreciate and laugh along with in his filmography, but
Night of the Zombies is mind-grindingly tepid.

It's not just the fact Goblin's iconic music from Dawn of the Dead and Contamination is lifted wholesale for use as the soundtrack. For that, this is the ultimate motivator to re-watch Romero's masterpiece as a way of cleansing the dog shit taste out of your mouth afterward. It's the distinct impression that no one cared at all about what's on-screen; from Mattei, the three writers, the actors, and the effects crew. Might as well shoot continuity in the face five minutes in as we agonize with unsympathetic characters bouncing around through jungle stock footage. Oh boy, bland titties amongst stereotypical Mountain of the Cannibal God natives and more stock footage of tree monkeys and water diving cranes. More badly-executed gore, everyone seemingly making it up with each scene (hey, let's have a SWAT member dawn a tutu!), and an uninspired apocalyptic ending.

I'm understating how terrible the whole experience really is and this abomination to all that is undead has the gall to exist for an entire 101 minutes. To be honest, I got to about the thirty minute mark before mostly fast forwarding to the end. I can't see how I survived through it all years ago with Anchor Bay's DVD. The nearest film in spirit to Mattei's dreck is Umberto's Lenzi's Nightmare City, but that would be a insult to Lenzi's roving encrusted radioactive maniac epic. Either see that one instead or seek out superior Mattei product in the aforementioned Strike Commando, Robowar, Cruel Jaws, or hell even Zombi 3.

The picture quality of Vestron Video's VHS is extremely rough and noisy despite being produced a mere four years after Night of the Zombies's ungodly birth. Colors are rich and the sound is serviceable, but the framing is a dead center full screen crop that never pans to accommodate the action on-screen. The film appears to be uncut, and it probably is, since the studio was usually quite reliable at providing full versions of their horror titles.


Kevin J. Olson said...

Yes, yes, yes! This movie is so awful...but kind of a perverse entertainment for me. I love how for no reason when they're in the jungle the woman decides it's time to take her shirt off and wander around with the natives. Hehe. Not to mention the TONS of stock footage implemented to pad the film. One of the best of the worst Italian zombie films of the 80's.

But if you think this is bad then you should try sitting through something like Oasis of the Zombies, Dawn of the Mummy, or Zombie Lake. At least with Virus you can kind of chuckle throughout, the aforementioned films are dreadful in comparison and a real chore to get through.

Troy Olson said...

My brother and I are of one accord on this one. Yeah, it's shit, but it's "so bad it's funny" shit. He stole my thunder with the scene of gratuitous nudity when they enter the jungle -- just a beautiful moment of sheer absurdity amongst a film full of it.

Mentioning STRIKE COMMANDO does make me want to go watch some Reb Brown, though. In fact, I just did a "Reb Brown Yell" in his honor.

J. Astro said...

I think what bothers me the most is how the zombie used in the cover art here VERY closely resembles the one pictured, head-up, on Lucio Fulci's masterfully icky (and apparently far superior) CITY OF THE LIVNG DEAD(aka The Gates of Hell).

Unknown said...

Heh, wow is it even worse than "Death Bed: The Bed That Eats?" or "Troll 2"?

venoms5 said...

I used to own this tape years back. I really enjoyed the film. I remember watching a triple feature of NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES, DEATHSTALKER and THE BEING in the same night as a kid. If I remember right, renting tapes was still expensive as hell then, around $6 or $7 each. Those were fun times.

It's never gonna be mistaken for a good movie, but it has lots and lots of gore and zombie action amidst an avalanche of stupidity and atrocious dialog. I would watch this over Mattei's RATS any day. WOMEN'S CAMP 119 is Mattei's best work, IMO. It's actually a well made movie.

I also remember REALLY wanting to see this film after seeing a spread of it in a Fangoria magazine I still have from the time. What's funny is, the pics are a little different from what's in the movie and the tape was a bit darker compared with the pictures in the magazine. According to Fragasso, this movie was supposed to have been a much bigger affair, but the script and budget was gutted at the last minute.

Thanks for bringing back a fun memory, Jayson. I kinda wish I still had this tape! you dare tread upon the staircase?

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