Hell Of The Living Dead

Hell Of The Living Dead (1981)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Margit Evelyn Newton, Selan Karay, Luis Fonoll, Frank Garfield
Extras: Director Interview, Theatrical Trailer, Still Gallery, Director Biography

Hey Kids! Have you ever asked yourself, ’What would happen if Ed Wood tried to make an Italian zombie movie?’ Well, wonder no more, as Anchor Bay Entertainment brings you ’Hell of the Living Dead’ on DVD. This crazy film wants to be a hybrid of George Romero’s ’Dawn of the Dead’ and Lucio Fulci’s ’Zombie’, but winds up being resembling the ’blooper’ reel from these films. The plot concerns a leak at a chemical plant in New Guinea, which turns everyone in the area into zombies. A SWAT team (dressed in the bluest uniforms that they could find) arrives on the tropical island to help with the disaster. (Or are they on vacation? It’s never made clear.) Once there, they meet a journalist (Margit Evelyn Newton) and her photographer (Selan Karay) and rescue them from a zombie attack. This rag-tag group then decides that they must get past the zombie natives and fight their way to the chemical plant.

’Hell of the Living Dead’ (better known as ’Night of the Zombies’ in America) was shot in Spain, but director Vincent Dawn (AKA Bruno Mattei) wanted the film to look authentic. So, he incorporated reams of stock footage of natives and animals from New Guinea. The result is a ludicrously edited film in which we cut from a zombie attack to a monkey swinging through the trees…for no reason whatsoever. While the bulk of ’Hell of the Living Dead’ looks and plays like any other Italian ’gut muncher’, there are several things, which make it worse than it’s brethren. The zombie attacks are totally fake looking, and when the corpse which is clearly still alive falls from the ceiling in Chapter 10, you know that this film had a microscopic budget. Still, gorehounds who are willing to fast-forward through the shots of elephant stampedes will probably find something to like about ’Hell of the Living Dead.’

Anchor Bay demonstrates that they aren’t judgmental by giving the notoriously bad ’Hell of the Living Dead’ a fine DVD premiere. The film is presented in an anamorphic widescreen and has been letterboxed at 1.85:1. The digital transfer has certainly brought out the differences between the real movie and the stock footage, so the quality here can vary from shot to shot. As for the film itself, the image is sharp and clear, although there is a very fine amount of grain. The transfer does show some minor defects from the source prints, but these are very minimal. The only noticeable flaw here is that the image is somewhat washed out, and none of the colors are very vibrant. The Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack offers clear dialogue, with only a faint hissing.

This DVD contains a 9-minute interview with director Bruno Mattei entitled ’Hell Rats of the Living Dead’, where he discusses his career and admits that none of his movies are good. We also have a biography and filmography for Mattei. The theatrical trailer for ’Hell of the Living Dead’ is included here, and has been letterboxed at 1.85:1. Rounding out the extras is a still gallery which has over 50 images from the film.