Review by Dan Taylor
me crazy, call me nuts... but of all the
post-DAWN OF THE DEAD Italian zombie-fests,
this bad boy and Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE are
my two favorites. Unlike Umberto Lenzi's
OF THE WALKING DEAD, NIGHT doesn't rely
on an inventive, off-the-wall gimmick to
get your attention... it simply and blatantly
rips DAWN off to the maximum.
As NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES (not
to be confused with the Joel "BLOODSUCKING
FREAKS" Reed film of the same name)
opens, The Hope Center suffers a heavy-duty
radiation leak that leads the professor
in charge to utter the understatement of
the decade: "Experimental project 'Sweet
Death' must be considered a complete failure."
What tipped you off? Was it the zombie rats
and co-workers ripping each other open for
a little snack?
Cut to the Americam Embassy
where terrorists have taken eight hostages.
(The DAWN similarities begin to mount.)
When a crack INTERPOL anti-terrorist squad
is called in, hardened Italian gorehounds
can be seen gleefully rubbing their hands
together in anticipation. And director Bruno
Mattei/Vincent Dawn doesn't let us down.
The crack squad bursts through the Embassy
and begins to blow away any terrorist scumbag
they can get in their sights.
At this point you're probably
asking yourself, "What the hell does
this have to do with the rest of the movie?"
As far as I can tell, nothing other than
the dying terrorist's "you will be
eaten by your fellow man" speech.
Mattei changes the scenery
to a native island where we meet up with
a television reporter, her cameraman and
two non-descript people who are travelling
with their injured son. Who are these people?
Why are they travelling with the tv chick?
Why did they bring their son along? Since
these questions are not answered one can
only assume that they are the equivalent
of new characters on 'Star Trek'. In other
words, meat for the lions. And true to form
they buy it, with the Oedipus Zombie taking
out dad, and the ever popular Zombie Priest
making mom's face look like it was run through
a Salad Shooter.
Once the SWAT Team arrives,
NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES kicks into what can
only be described as Italian Zombie Geographic
Overdrive. In an effort to pad it out to
a comfortable 90 minutes, Mattei inserts
a ton of National Geographic outtakes of
birds, animals and generic jungle flora
The most brain-staggeringly
bizarre part of the film comes when the
tv reporter bares her breasts for a gratuitous
close-up, paints them and her face and goes
ahead to talk to the native chieftan. But
Mattei's attempt at matching his cheesy
Play-Doh masks with the elaborate masks
worn in the actual footage regularly sends
me into fits of hysterical laughter. (I
was pleased to know Mattei hasn't lost this
jarring touch his recent flick THE
LAND OF DEATH combines shot on video clarity
with grainy filmed footage of tigers.)
At this point the Mattei blows
his superb sense of pacing by forcing us
into an extended maggot munching spectacle
and what passes for romantic dialogue like:
"Suppose we'd met at a cocktail party
in Washington and liked each other...we'd
be in the sack by now."
I guess zombies really bring
out the romantic in you. Not to fear, though,
as the lull ends and the zombies, villagers
and SWAT guys get together for some wholesale
carnage, limb loss and organ chomping!
A house on the island is the
set piece for the highest degree of absolute
gore, ridiculous dialogue and over- the-top
acting this side of a Fulci film! Just some
of the highlights at this House of Horrors:
a grandma getting eaten by a cat; zombie
grandma with Alka Seltzer froth; zombies
eating a SWAT guy who is wearing a tutu
and a top hat (don't ask); an absolutely
haywire en masse zombie attack; and these
priceless gems of dialogue from the Standard
Issue Maniacal SWAT Guy: "You rotten,
wormy, putrid corpses..." and "I
figure we'll all meet again...IN HELL!!!"
From this point NIGHT OF THE
ZOMBIES steamrolls towards its inevitable
conclusion... everyone in the cast DIES!!!
Mattei finds time to insert a few eye gouges
and tongue rips to keep the masses entertained,
despite several failed Romero-esque attempts
at dark humor and social commentary.
A true classic.