Night of the Zombies

Night of the Zombies ★★½

Virus... Zombi 4... Hell of the Living Dead... goes by many different names. Zombie Creeping Flesh. It's never a good sign when a movie has more alternative names than credited cast members and Zombie Inferno is no exception. Technically, Vincent Dawn (aka Bruno Mattei) spewed forth an abortion with Night of the Zombies. There's as much stock footage as actual footage, maybe more, there's atrocious acting, terrible dubbing, perilous narrative coherence, shit framing, wonky shot composition, feral editing and tons of night-for-day... and yet, I kinda didn't mind it. Maybe it was the Dawn-grey undead makeup or all the sweet goopy gore, or maybe just the sheer nerve of its bullshit, but somehow it kept me onside.

The best thing about it by far is Goblin's score, and even that's not original - a patchwork of tuneage lifted variously from Dawn of the Dead, Contamination and Goblin's studio album, Roller. Which probably explains why the music rarely makes any sense in the context of what's happening on screen. And what IS happening on screen exactly? The plot is threadbare and yet paradoxically obtuse; in summary: bad chemicals factory goes wrong, zombies spawned, death squad sent to destroy, press in tow, shenanigans ensue. The death squad, led by fake Marlon Brando, inexplicably have to briefly sort out a hostage situation at an embassy first, where environmental activists are threatening to kill people if the Hope project (bad chemicals factory purporting to be good) isn't shut down. Taking and killing hostages isn't the typical M.O. of environmental activists but hey, let's let it slide, we've got bigger fish to fry. After the death squad have successfully 'negotiated' that situation, they're immediately packed off to New Guinea on a pest control mission.

Now, there's no way Mattei and crew could afford to shoot on location in New Guinea, so the jungle flora of Spain and Italy are interspersed with stock footage of indigenous tribes, eagles taking flight, monkeys flitting through trees and of course, elephants stampeding - because if there's one thing New Guinea is famous for it's elephants. Weirdly though, it does kinda work, if you squint. Mattei also throws in a lot of stuff to stop you thinking too hard about it - like the scene where the female reporter fake Brando and co have hooked up with is revealed to be an anthropology expert and without a second's hesitation, she sheds all her clothes, gets some intricate body paint daubed on her naked flesh (who did that?!) and saunters off to infiltrate the tribe. And no-one bats an eyelid. There's just so much bizarre sheeeeit going down there's really no time to get bored. It may be a stretch to read it as a critique of third world exploitation, but between Goblin's fantastic, ill-fitting musical accompaniment and waiting to see what crazy thing will happen next - I was NOT expecting a sparsely populated UN auditorium with a couple of people throwing papers at each other - this shambolic Bitsa of a film is more fun than it's got any right to be.

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