Search the Cinema Head Cheese Archives!

August 11, 2014

Movie Review: Hell of the Living Dead / Rats: Night of Terror (Blu-ray)

Since I first laid my hands on VHS copies of the bloodiest horror films Italy had to offer at the numerous Mom 'n' Pop stores in my neighborhood I came to admire the often gruesome work of Lucio Fulci, (Zombie), Dario Argento (Suspiria), Umberto Lenzi (Cannibal Ferox) and Sergio Martino (Torso). These guys were the best and to this day have a place in my black heart. One gentlemen not mentioned that I do feel has had quite a contribution to the Italian cult genre but doesn't quite get the attention is the much maligned, Bruno Mattei. Bruno was essentially the Asylum Films of Italy in the 80's (minus the lazy CGI effects), ripping off bigger films like Aliens and Dawn of the Dead. He was the best at it and his films were rarely boring.

Blue Underground has taken it upon themselves to put together a double-feature Blu-ray of a couple of Mattei's more notable and enjoyable films with high-definition presentations of both Hell of the Living Dead (aka Virus) and the post-apocalyptic rats-run-amok entry Rats: Night of Terror. Let's see if I can handle this much genius!

Hell of the Living Dead is essentially a mash-up of some widely known flesh-eating classics from just a few years before, Dawn of the Dead and Zombie. Except here, Mattei and screenwriter Claudio Fragasso actually add some of their own touches to the mix. When a young woman (Margit Evelyn Newton) hooks up with a group of trigger-happy mercenaries, together they scour the jungle and inevitably wind up at a lab were a horrible accident happened. The path ain’t easy as they run into hordes of zombies and natives infected with a virus unleashed from the lab that’s causing people to want to eat human flesh.

The acting is awful, the dubbing is worse - but that doesn’t hurt the film. This actually makes it very funny and the gore supplied, is here in abundance along with some welcome nudity from the gorgeous Newton when she decides to becomes "one" with the natives.  As mentioned, the blood is pretty non-stop and certainly on par with Fulci and Romero’s zombie films in the gore department. Bodies are torn to bits, guts are chomped, faces are torn off and even a child gets machine-gunned in one of the more memorable sequences. Bruno pulls no punches. The ending is actually a bit bleak and effective, even with such a schlocky feeling to the film. Overall, Hell of the Living Dead is the better of the two on the disc and looks stunning in this new Blu-ray transfer.

With the recent Blu-ray release of another "rat horror" favorite of mine in Deadly Eyes, I must say, it is a pleasant surprise seeing Rats: Night of Terror get some love on the Blu-ray format. If Post-apocalyptic trash and creature features are your thing Mattei's rodent rampages will be just what Doctor Butcher MD ordered!

It’s the future A.B, (or after the bomb as we're shown in the opening credits) and a gang of bikers looking for some solace and a place to stay. They find that place, but they aren’t alone. There are actually thousands of hungry rats all throughout the building looking to feast on their unbathed, stinky corpses. Rats don’t care if you’re a little ripe. One by one the leather-clad group are eaten alive by these incredibly determined carnivorous little beasts. While nowhere near as gory as Hell of the Living Dead, Rats: Night of Terror packs a grisly punch as well as plethora of campy moments that should amuse.

The supplements for both films are quite good as you get some content from the older release mixed in with some new Bonded By Blood is the new addition an contains some excellent interviews with Co-Writer/Co-Director Claudio Fragasso and Stars Margit Evelyn Newton, Franco Garofalo, Ottaviano Dell'Acqua & Massimo Vanni. It was nice hearing some surprisingly positive opinions of Mattei as everybody enjoyed working with him and seemed to think he was also a good fellow on not a tyrant like Fulci. Fragasso professes his love for gore in horror and how it’s very important. I like this guy even more! The carry over extra is the featurette Hell Rats Of the Living Dead and of course some trailers and a nice gallery to round things out.

I simply can't recommend this quality double-dose of gory Italian trash awesomeness enough. Bruno Mattei is truly THE pasta-land master of schlock. This release is sure to please any true fan of European sleaze, so don't wait, buy a copy now!

                            All Blu-ray Screencaps Courtesy of RockShockPop!

No comments:

Post a Comment