Night of the Zombies

Night of the Zombies ★★★★

This film is so gory that the female lead's death is one of the most overlooked splatter scenes in all Italian horror cinema: she has a fist shoved into her mouth and up into her skull until both of her eyes fall out, and it's amazing.

Given that this was my third time watching this zombie epic - which it seems I can't get enough of - I thought I'd be past laughing at its shonkier moments. But what can you do when it has that long section in which high-def reaction shots of the actors are cut with lesser quality, super-gross details stolen from that repulsive mondo documentary New Guinea: Island of Cannibals?

It reminds me of that Monty Python sketch where the guests at a dinner party, shot on TV studio cameras, pop outdoors, where everything's shot on 16mm, and they're disturbed to realise that they're surrounded by film.

I'll tell you what is funny, though: if you look up New Guinea: Island of Cannibals on IMDb, the only two credited cast members are Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, as themselves. Imagine if, after the Apocalypse, future archaeologists find that that's the only surviving footage of them, and that's what their history records our longest-serving monarch as having done. I mean, I'm not saying it's likely, but it could happen.

Generally it's disappointing when a zombie movie takes place in an exotic location, yet most of the action occurs in buildings, ie cheap sets back in Rome, and when the good guys have firearms instead of having to use hand-to-hand weapons, but the fact that uncredited co-director Claudio Fragasso shot a bunch of quick inserts of exploding heads ensures that the violence is kept as brutal as possible throughout.

While this would never be the first film you'd show someone whom you were trying to convince that zombie flicks can be good, it's certainly one of my favourites, and I'd much rather watch Zombie Creeping Flesh aka Virus aka Night of the Zombies aka Hell of the Living Dead again than, say, an uneven, overrated American chin-stroker like Dawn of the Dead.


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