Sunday, May 2, 2010

Night of the Zombies (1980, Bruno Mattei)

When I was in high school and Romero's zombie films changed my life, I went in search of anything I could find that was similar.  Not realizing that Romero's films were untoppable, I spent countless hours watching mostly poor Italian imitations.  It was many years before I figured out what the name of this film was after forgetting the title (I knew it had a generic title ripping off Romero's films).  It wasn't until Blue Underground re-released the DVD a couple years ago that I recognized the inimitable zombie on the cover and knew it was the same movie.  Though I didn't recognize the title Hell of the Living Dead, I looked up alternate titles and found the film I saw...NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES!

The film opens in a research facility where a deadly gas is accidentally released into the air.  Two workers find a dead rat that comes to life and kills one of the men, who then becomes a zombie.  Then we meet up with a group of soldiers sent to stop some terrorists in New Guinea.  After succeeding, they lose communication to their superiors and continue on through the jungles to the research facility previously mentioned, which they were sent to investigate.  They meet up with a journalist (Margit Evelyn Newton) and her cameraman as well as a shitload of villagers, who have turned into zombies.  They must get to the research facility to get answers and hopefully find a way to stop this zombie outbreak before they become lunch.

Night of the Zombies is generally regarded as shit.  I'll admit that the film is basically Dawn of the Dead only in the jungle.  The characters, story and several scenes are more than a little reminiscent of Dawn.  Even director Bruno Mattei used the pseudonym Vincent Dawn for this fim.  Despite this factor as well as horrible acting, dubbing and dialogue (or maybe because of it)...I LOVED IT!  I mean really, truly loved it.  Maybe it was the nostalgia, I don't know but the film really delivered.  Ok, so Tom Savini wasn't there to show off his makeup effects genius, but Night of the Zombies had some really nasty zombie killings.  People run by a zombie and he grabs their leg and takes a bite (in close up of course).  I think this film was actually more violent then Dawn of the Dead and featured some really disgusting FX.  The scene towards the end where a character gets their tongue pulled out (I won't spoil the rest) deserves a standing ovation as do many other scenes in the film.  One thing that was unnecessary though was the stock footage of New Guinea that was mainly just showing animals and the native people doin' their thang.  Regardless, this film is exactly what a great exploitation film should be - over the top, gross, silly and very watchable.

RATING:  8/10

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