Director Bruno Mattei hung with them all. An editor of Italian cinema during the 60’s and early 70’s he had a great love and respect for film. It was finally in exploitation’s loving lap that he comfortably fell. Influenced by many that went before him Senor Mattei sincerely flattered them each and everyone by making many wonderfully campy low budget set pieces that go down much sweeter today than when they first graced the big screen. Blue Underground has given us a double feature chance to check out this for ourselves.
The Zombies are at it once again, moving slowly through ‘Hell of The Living Dead’. This time it’s hush hush chemical craziness that sets the corpses raging. We follow along side a reporter Lia Rousseau (Margit Evelyn Newton) and her crew wandering through some jungle somewhere that seems part Lion Country Safari part stock footage nastiness that any Mondo film crew could have left behind. We get tribesmen munching maggots fresh off the rotting flesh mixed in with standard karo syrup meat-soaked gore. Lt. Mike London (José Gras) is also along for the ride. He and his special opps jokers are trying to stop the flesh-eaters from taking over the world while keeping government headquarters’ dirty little secret. It is a mixed bag this little film, borrowing ideas and music from better living dead pictures to create a slightly depressing if blood covered horror story.
‘Rats: Night of Terror’ is a different animal completely. If you like your apocalyptic survival stories ripe with cheesy goodness then look no further. This film is the mother load of drive-in fun. It tells the tale of the world after a nuclear disaster. The haves live underground and the rough have nots above ground. Kurt (Ottaviano Dell’Acqua) leads a group of scavengers across a barren land. They find what they think could be home, but sadly other residents occupy this little oasis. ‘Rats: Night of Terror’ is fun. Complete with laugh a minute dialogue, bad actor enthusiasm, and hoards of mangy rodents featured prominently munching gory victims, droppings and rat wranglers in plain sight.
Blue Underground did us well with image and sound keeping in mind that these are exploitation gems that even in there original incarnations were not objects of perfection. Special features include Bonded By Blood – Interviews with Co-Writer/Co-Director Claudio Fragasso and Stars Margit Evelyn Newton, Franco Garofalo, Ottaviano Dell’Acqua & Massimo Vanni Hell, and Rats Of The Living Dead – Interview with Director Bruno Mattei, as well as the usual theatrical trailers.
If tales of horror and survival are your cup of crazy tea then these two 1980’s offerings will quench that high time thirst. Bruno Mattei knew a good thing when he saw it. Let’s forgive his five fingered cinematic discounts for all the fun he has left us behind.