Night of the Zombies

Night of the Zombies ★★★★

It's hard for me to hate a Bruno Mattei movie. I've seen so much of his work and even the couple of films I wasn't a fan of still had a lot of charm and some memorable moments to them. And Night of the Zombies, or Hell of the Living Dead, is definitely one of the highlights of a bizarre and entertaining career.

Hell of the Living Dead, like many Mattei films, clearly lifts heavily from one specific film, while simultaneously being original enough to be unique in its own way. Which is weird to read, but let me explain. It's clear that this movie borrows from George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, with the special forces infiltrating a building to deal with a hostage situation and the attempts at some lighthearted moments amidst the chaos. But the clearly lifted moments from Romero's film don't distract from the enjoyment of the movie. There's still a lot of originality in this, and of course the entertainment value is based on two key aspects: the soundtrack done by the always epic Goblin, and Claudio Fragasso's hilarious dialogue writing.

One thing I will never tire of is the awful screenwriting of Claudio Fragasso. He's most well known for the infamously terrible Troll 2, but before he made his magnum opus he was a writer for some of Mattei's most popular films, such as Women's Prison Massacre, Zombie 3, and Strike Commando. And every time, every single time, it kills me. This man cannot write dialogue. I don't know if it's an issue that gets lost in translation, or if he tries to appeal to a more western audience by writing what he thinks western audiences like to hear, but his dialogue is atrocious, and it makes for some of the funniest and most outrageous lines ever delivered. Among my favorites include the Disneyland scene in Strike Commando, the "I'm white like all of you!" line from Rats: Night of Terror, and in this we have "It's hotter than a horses ass." Which I feel is an idiom Fragasso thought sounded like a common or badass phrase, but is more head-scratching than anything. But his strange style of writing is never not welcomed. Mattei's films seem to be strengthened by this.

Another thing to love about Hell of the Living Dead, as well as many of Mattei's other works, is how quickly they escalate. This movie starts off at a 10 and it stays there for the majority of the runtime. There's zombie action, tension between the special forces and the journalists, lots of running, screaming, over-the-top acting, a high body count, lots of gore, all of the elements of a memorable Mattei movie. Definitely check this one out.

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