Hell of the Living Dead (1980)

The usual take on this film is that the story rips off Dawn Of The Dead, the music is ripped off from Dawn Of The Dead, Beyond The Darkness, and whatever other scores Goblin did for different Italian gore movies, and that the result is one of the most bottom of the barrel zombie movies of all time. To which I say,”thank God!”

I watched Dawn Of The Dead again not too long ago and was amazed at how much it plodded along, like so many of its local yokel zombies. I’ll go ahead commit the great sin and say that I had more fun sitting through Hell of the Living Dead than I did Romero’s overrated epic. Tell me you weren’t laughing when one of the Interpol guys offered the leading lady some chewing tobacco in place of her cigarette, saying something like “its really pretty good once you get used to it”.

So what is it that gets the dead all hot and bothered so that they decide to road trip from hell straight to New Guinea? Would you believe it all started when a couple of guys in hazmat suits find a rat in the most sterile part of their mysterious manufacturing plant?

Somehow this rat gets inside the guy’s suit and eats him up and this causes him to hit some control panel and the next thing you know there’s green smoke everywhere and he’s chowing down on his partner.

What sort of organization would have a strange plant with a gas that turns the dead into flesh-eating zombies? The U.N. of course! Those jokers and their satanic one-world government agenda have been plotting to take our gun rights away and turn us into Soylent Green for years!

Publicly, the U.N. has set up what they call “Hope Centers” in an effort to combat world hunger. That’s a swell sounding name, but inside the plants they’re working on something a little less-public relations friendly called “Project Sweet Death” which sounds like a heavy metal band director Bruno Mattei might have used for the soundtrack. I guess the plan was for Sweet Death to cause all the poor people in the underdeveloped countries to eat each other. Sweet indeed!

A nosy reporter is on hand to muck up this zombie-gone-awry project and she and her cameraman get attacked by some zombies and are rescued by the Interpol agents.

The nosy reporter also happens to a be nudist anthropologist and when she spots a tribe in the jungle, she strips and puts on her war paint so that she can attempt some communication with them.

This is really the only time the movie stumbles, believe it or not. How you screw up the nude (though admittedly utterly pointless) anthropology angle is beyond me, but the movie bogs down here like a Range Rover stuck in ten pounds of native intestines.

Part of the problem is the liberal use of grainy stock footage inserted erratically throughout the film which reaches its apex during this segment. You get guys dancing around, all painted up, wearing masks, and looking entirely different than the people that this reporter actually encounters.

After awhile, Bruno seems to remember that he is making a crappy zombie movie and not a crappy cannibal movie, so some zombies show up and attack. Our heroes escape and hang out at a house for awhile for no good reason (except for some impromptu cross dressing) until some of them can get attacked and killed.

It suddenly dawns on these Interpol losers that instead of playing dress up in an abandoned house that their mission was actually far different. They need to get to the Hope Center where all this stuff happened in the first place.

Following the unfortunate events at the Hope Center that among other things sets back clothing optional science several decades, there’s the obligatory epilogue where the zombies have already spread to other parts of the planet. As shocking an ending as it is, I’ll admit it lacks the impact of seeing a guy with a giant rat head as in Bruno’s Rats: Night Of Terror.

Compared to his tale of flesh-eating rats taking over the world, this story about flesh-eating third worlders is a bit less spectacular in terms of all out looniness and some of it, like the guy in the dress, seems forced. It’s also slow going in the middle, but you are rewarded with every stupid character getting completely eviscerated which mostly makes up for it.

You can carp about what a rip-off this one is, what horrid dialogue, junky effects, and what an incomprehensible story it all has, but Bruno is a genre unto himself. A far superior effort than Zombi 3 which he finished up for Lucio Fulci, Hell Of The Living Dead is the perfect companion to Rats: Night Of Terror and works as the ultimate double bill of excessive Italian horror gore movies which were unleashed on unsuspecting audiences like a glorious green gassy cloud of Sweet Death.

© 2013 MonsterHunter

2 thoughts on “Hell of the Living Dead (1980)

  1. I am with you on this one. It’s kind of like the pork chop breakfast biscuit of zombie movies: classless, greasy, but nonetheless enjoyable.

  2. “Nudist anthropologist”. That’s one commited professional, no doubt. I’d have loved to assist to their graduation ceremony!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.