Friday, November 28, 2014

A Center For Hope?...Or The Heart Of Hell!

Video Nasty #32


Zombie Creeping Flesh




Actual title: Virus
Other alternate titles: Night Of The Zombies, Hell Of The Living Dead, Dusk Of The Dead 
NTSC running time: 100:30
Directed by Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn)
Written by Claudio Fragasso and J. M. Cunilles
Produced by Sergio Cortona
Music by Goblin
Starring: Margit Evelyn Newton, Franco Garofalo (as Frank Garfield), Selan Karay, Jose Gras (as Robert O'Neil), Gaby Renom, Luis Fonoll
Body Count: 42...and I probably missed a couple.
Region 0 DVD from Blue Underground as Hell Of The Living Dead.  They've released it on BluRay as well.

BBFC Status

Why it's a Nasty: Zombies, gore, and gratuitous use of stock footage.
What was cut: Hard to say.  When certified for the cinema with an X in 1982, the film ran at 99:13, but the BBFC made no cuts.  Possibly pre-cut by the distributor, Miracle Films Ltd.
Current UK status: Hell Of The Living Dead was certified 18 on January 10, 2002 under the title Zombie Creeping Flesh.
Zombie Creeping Flesh was seized during the Nasty panic, but was not successfully prosecuted.

Above you will find an alternate cut of Virus taken from an Australian VHS.  This version is titled Dusk Of The Dead, an attempt to pass this off as the zombie "origin story" and prequel to George A. Romero's classic 1968 shocker Night Of The Living Dead.  Don't be fooled by the running time - this cut is actually shorter.  Sound off in the comments if you have more info on this alternate version.  (I like the narration cards that run before the opening titles in this version - they add to the comprehensibility of this otherwise incomprehensible feature.)

In New Guinea, the Hope Centre (an industrial complex aimed towards wiping out world hunger) suffers a catastrophe.  Within minutes the scientists are eating each other.  A lone surviving scientist retreats to his office to record a final message.

We join an emergency response team at a hostage situation.  A bunch of 1970s revolutionary kids have taken hostages, demanding that the Hope Centre be closed.  The team (four men dressed much like the SWAT team in Romero's Dawn Of The Dead) break in and kill the terrorists.  Then they head to New Guinea for a secret mission.  They meet up with reporter Lia Rousseau (Margit Evelyn Newton) and her cameraman, who are there to document the strange plague suffered by the natives, natives that Lia is familiar with.  The six head into the jungle to meet with a native tribe...and then all hell breaks loose.

Hell Of The Living Dead (my preferred title, I think Zombie Creeping Flesh is one of the worst titles ever created, Ray Dennis Steckler could have done better) is highly entertaining and almost completely consists of things stolen from other films: the Goblin soundtrack is entirely lifted from other pictures (music from Dawn Of The Dead and Contamination is repeatedly used), tons of stock footage from documentaries about New Guinea is inserted throughout the picture for no apparent reason, the soldiers' outfits are straight out of Dawn Of The Dead, and the story is a mashup of Zombi 2 and Apocalypse Now with a twist of Romero's Dead mythology for good measure.

Performances range from decent to atrocious, with Newton and Franco Garofalo providing the best characterizations.  Newton's Rousseau is believable, if a bit stilted, while Garofalo's turn as SWAT team member Zantoro is gleefully over the top and great fun to watch as he taunts zombies like a coked-up Robin Williams.  The makeup is shitty, the "plot" so threadbare as to be almost unimportant, and boy howdy are these some cooperative zombies.  They seem to attack only when cued to do so, even stopping and posing for the cameraman in one memorable scene.  The SWAT guys can never seem to remember Romero's First Law: SHOOT THEM IN THE HEAD!...even though they are given this information several times over the course of the film.  This is MST3K material.  Get some friends, various intoxicants, mix and match, let the fun begin.

Watch this one if you like movies that are unintentionally funny or just have to have some gore and nothing else is handy.  And if you're a fan of Apocalypse Now you'll probably like this one...even if you might not understand why I say that until the final reel.  Either way, it's great fun and will keep you laughing.  Until next time, be wary of industrial nightmares that claim to bring hope.  They're probably keeping a secret.  I'll help you steer clear of these nightmares.  Because my name's Justin.  JustinCase.

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