"Hell of the Living Dead" is Italian b-movie master Bruno Mattei's foray into the flesh-eating zombie world. It's a good old-fashioned gore-fest, aiming to capitalize on the gory exploitation craze of it's time. It's done with a low budget, but a lotta heart, and it will NOT disappoint fans of the zombie film, the "so bad it's good" film, or any combination of the two.
Now I wouldn't presume to sit here and say that this is a "good" film; I certainly won't perjure myself by saying it's "well-made", "well-written", or "well-acted"...none of the above would be true. I WILL say that if you're a zombie fan, you should most assuredly check this one out, and IF you're a zombie fan, you'll understand what I mean.
It's clear that this film is an obvious attempt at a European "Dawn of the Dead" clone, following Argento's version of DotD and Fulci's "Zombi"...yes, it rips off the costumes, music, plot elements, and even LINES from Romero flicks (but what zombie film of the last thirty years HASN'T ripped off Romero on SOME level?)...yes, the acting is amatuerish at best and the dubbing is atrocious...
And yes, it's AWESOME for those of us who sift through the detritus of the horror genre looking for that little gem that makes us retch and laugh at the same time.
The movie is infamous for it's intercut stock footage and weak storyline, but these only contribute to it's value as a great 'bad' horror film; sure, it's nice to see a horror flick with genuine social commentary or important backstory to make it relate to us as real live people, but it's JUST as great sometimes to just watch a horror movie to be horrified...and this one delivers. It brings you killer kids, gratuitous nudity, tribal rituals, and even a conspiracy theory-type twist at one point...how can you go wrong?? Let's not ignore that the gore scenes are inspired; sure, some of it's obviously folks 'noshing on raw meat, but how is that worse than watching actors chewing on latex appliances? I've watched many many many many (ad nauseum) horror films, and THIS particular entry is in my top ten for original splatter scenes, particularly for a famous scene near the end. Do all of these make sense (the much lauded or condemned 'cat in the corpse' scene)? Heck no! But it's things like that that make this little movie memorable!
If you're looking for Oscar-winning story, directing, or acting, you're looking in the wrong place...if you're wanting a Romero film, then watch a Romero film...but if you're like me, and occasionally enjoy an old-fashioned, 'bad' splatter-flick, I recommend you at LEAST rent this one for a screening...I personally see it as one of those oft-forgotten little gems of the zombie world.