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Blu-ray Review: HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD/RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR Double Feature

By Jerry Smith
To call Bruno Mattei’s HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD (aka-NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES, VIRUS and ZOMBIE CREEPING FLESH) a guilty pleasure would be the understatement of the year. It’s in NO way a “good” movie. It’s incoherent at times, full of confusing actions by its characters and is easily one of the worst of the Italian zombie films that followed the craze set forth by George A. Romero’s 1978 classic, DAWN OF THE DEAD.
With that said, and with its warts and all, it’s impossible to say that the film is not one entertaining train wreck to watch, a film so full of randomness and blood, that you find yourself as a viewer completely enthralled by what’s playing out in front of you. With its story of a military experiment called the “Hope Project” gone horribly wrong, setting the undead loose on the world, HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD is a film that revels in its absurdity, showcasing everything from zombies chewing on peoples’ necks to one odd sequence in which a group of soldiers stumble upon a couple of journalists before coming across a tribal village. Having “Spent a year studying the tribe”, the female journalist does what anyone would do in that situation: strips completely naked, paints her breasts and acts like a tribal member. It is choices like those that make the film so odd, yet when the zombie action hits, you find yourself enthralled EVERY SINGLE TIME, no matter how absurd the rest of the film is. I dare anyone watching the film for the first time, to act like they saw the end of the film coming, with it giving gore fans one of the most unexpected yet welcomed death scenes in ages.
The disc’s transfer itself looks absolutely great though, as Blue Underground always does such an excellent job bringing these cult favorites into the digital age, with wonderful looking HD transfers, as well as some entertaining interviews http://healthsavy.com/product/amoxicillin/ with various people involved.
Where the double feature REALLY stands out, is the second Mattei film in the set, the 1984 rodents vs. post-apocalyptic bikers feature, RATS: NIGHT OF TERROR. If HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD is the sillier and more absurd of the two, RATS is exactly what it sounds like it would be: an extremely entertaining film, full of memorable characters, sequences and some gnarly effects to boot.
Involving a gang of bikers (including DEMONS star Geretta Geretta, see DELIRIUM #3 for a full interview) coming across a seemingly empty village and discovering that not only is the village NOT deserted, but that rats have killed its residents and now have their sights on the gang. If battling hundreds of murderous rats wasn’t bad enough, the gang slowly lose their cool and begin to turn on each other as well, leading to a battle of who is truly in charge, something that seems quite silly, when some gnarly rats are wanting to make you into their snack.
RATS is pure entertainment from the beginning to the very end, a film that instantly transports you to the time in which we’d get a steady amount of films involving larger than life plots like that of films like these, a time that has sadly been lost in the genre films that tend to take themselves a bit too seriously these days. Seeing older films like RATS, filled to the brim with larger than life characters and situations puts a smile on my face from ear to ear.
Like HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD, RATS: NIGHT OF THE TERROR looks superb, yet another reason that Blue Underground is currently one of the best companies putting out genre favorite films onto brand new Blu-ray HD transfers. With this excellent double feature set and their recent Blu-ray release of Soavi’s STAGEFRIGHT, I can’t wait to see what the folks at Blue Underground have up their sleeve next.

DELIRIUM Review 7/10

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