Hell of the Living Dead (1980)

“Hell of the Living Viewer” seems to be the general consensus with this one; even the Blue Underground DVD’s back cover blurb can’t take the film seriously, and the original Anchor Bay release’s notes was apparently even more cruel. As for me, I suppose I’ve now had the “proper” Bruno Mattei/Claudio Fragasso experience (Zombie 3, of course, was adulterated by an indeterminate amount of Lucio Fulci), and god/dess help me but I think I kind of enjoyed it, albeit on a somewhat ironic level and in full recognition of just how bad it is. The much-retitled film (that’s a UK poster I found to illustrate this) is, basically, a cobbling together mainly of Dawn of the Dead‘s characters and Zombie Flesh Eaters‘ exotic island setting, with other elements nicked from other films as required; the story involves a ghastly conspiracy of extermination by western industrial powers against the Third World involving some sort of chemical or something that turns people into zombies. Dead people eating the living=cheap and cheerful population control. All of this is relayed through some fucking horrendous acting (and no, it’s not just the dubbing, godawful though it certainly is; let’s just say there’s some broad physicality in some of those faces irrespective of the voice added later), logical problems (everyone keeps forgetting the only way to kill the zombies is shoot them in the head—and then late in the film one gets killed just with a body shot), and nature documentary stock footage that fails to seriously foster the illusion that we’re in New Guinea rather than Spain, and of a quality so visibly unlike the rest of the film a blind person could tell the difference. And, like I said, I think I actually did enjoy it, if mainly because of its faults than despite them. Not even I’d have the nerve to actually call it good as such, but it was more fun than I expected (with enough alcohol it’d probably be a riot). $12 not too badly spent after all…

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