The Ninjabot

Trash or Treasure? HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980)

Posted on August 14, 2014 at 12:00 pm by Jess Hicks

Get ready…it’s going to be a hell of a night!

Last time we talked about “Euromerica” and all of it’s wonderful goofy qualities that made Nightmare City fit nicely in the treasure category of this series. So I decided to have another slice of Euromerica sleaze and I found it in, Hell of the Living Dead. This Bruno Mattei zombie romp sits at an abysmal 39% on Rotten Tomatoes and has been named one of the worst zombie movies of all time. That’s a hefty accusation and one I personally use for Zombie Nation. THAT is hands down the worst zombie movie I have ever seen…but I digress.

Hell of the Living Dead starts in the midst of a group of scientists who are getting ready to put through “Operation Sweet Death”. Yep. That is really what their big mission is called because starting chemical genocide calls for it’s own sexploitation name. Anyway, it turns out Operation Sweet Death was actually a way to destroy the inhabitants in Papua New Guinea, hence the name. A leak occurs and begins infecting all the workers as they flee from the center. The workers quickly begin transforming into flesh eating zombies and spread the illness into the jungle.

Operation We're F***ed

Operation We’re F***ed

Meanwhile, a group of soldiers (who we met earlier in a completely unrelated hostage situation) are now in New Guinea and encounter a young journalist and photographer. Lia, the journalist, has traveled to New Guinea in search of what killed her parents who were there researching a cure for cancer. Thus, our band of misfits are united and the plot progresses further into the jungle as they confront the deadly zombies.

I decided not to focus too much on the characters in this because they are all pretty basic in their clich├ęs. They do their job and are entertaining enough to keep you interested and sometimes even humorous. Most of the laughs come from the wild card soldier who jumps into horde after horde of zombies and destroys them one by one. You won’t remember their names by the time the movie ends but they do what they need to and I can respect that.

Now, unlike Nightmare City where the zombies looked like offspring of the Toxic Avenger we actually get some really great make up effects by Giuseppe Farrenti. He also did make up for Cannibal Ferox, the second most disgusting cannibal film under Cannibal Holocaust, and a few Dario Argento films such as Cat O’Nine Tails and The Bird With the Crystal Plumage. There were several scenes that really nailed it in the make up department; when we first discover a nearby village has been overrun Lia discovers her father with half of his face gone in a grotesque drippy fashion.

Hell of the Living Dead Zombie Doctor

Hell of the Living Dead is not the worst zombie ever made, not by a long shot. Mattei is a director who worked with an obscenely tight budget throughout his career but he was a fan of the genre and that love seeps into his work. For horror fans alike, this movie should be considered a low-budget treasure. Until next time, readers!

Fun Facts:

* The music used throughout the film is Goblin’s Dawn of the Dead theme

* The film has many alternate titles including Virus, Zombi 4, and others

* The stock footage of the animal scenes don’t make sense because the fim was originally supposed to be set in Africa

Hell of the Living Dead: B-

You can follow Jess on Twitter @DangerJess_ and if you have any suggestions for the next segment of Trash or Treasure tweet me or leave a comment!

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