Considering this was Mattei’s penultimate work (followed by the equally heinous Zombies: the Beginning) one would naturally keep expectations very low as ill-fated directors in their twilight years rarely come close to the quality of their previous efforts. Mattei has always been hit or miss; from his decent films like The Other Hell, Hell of the Living Dead, and Women’s Prison Massacre to his so-bad-it’s-good efforts such as Rats: Night of Terror and Strike Commando, chances are many a genre fan has been exposed to his work at one time or another. Island of the Living Dead however marks a new low in his already slipshod career.
This straight to video turd is the epitome of “don’t give a fuck”. The cast of mouth-breathers couldn’t have less in common, exemplify the very essence of forced diversity, and have the most uninspired names imaginable. Seriously. The Captain of the ship/expedition’s name is Captain Kirk (Gaetano Russo; Trhauma, Cobra Nero), there’s a black dude named Snoopy (Jim Gaines; Strike Commando, Zombie 4: After Death) who actually sports a Snoopy t-shirt through the entire film, and another character named Balboa. Add an overcompensating bitch that spends most of her time being a cunt and yelling at everyone and a know-it-all Asian chick to provide some nonexistent T&A, and an asshole who couldn’t even be bothered to put his teeth in for the movie and you’re well on your way to fail-city. The dialogue is some of the worst I’ve ever heard even by Mattei standards (“I know you’re the best carpenter here I know.”) and the plot is completely generic: idiots get stuck in a remote place and zombies come and eat them. That’s all well and good as long as we get thrown a bone or two – some naked ladyflesh here, the odd gross-out scene there, but this contains none of those welcome staples. Instead we have a bunch of zombies that are sometimes vampires – teeth and all – with farm implements shambling around while the protagonists fumble about some ancient ruins looking for treasure and/or a way out. As if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s a zombie that plays a lute like a flamenco guitar, a completely inept recreation of the splinter in the eye scene from Fulci’s Zombie, a group of undead cultists wearing rubber skull Halloween masks and skeleton gloves that look like they came from a thrift store dump bin, and plenty of stolen footage from films far more competent and ambitious.
To his credit, Mattei doesn’t resort to any sort of digital effects, but they’re all pretty fucking horrible. Still, I’ll be the broken record here and state that I’d much rather see practical gore gags no matter how shitty over some computer generated video game looking bullshit. There’s a welcome abundance of graphic violence in the film and even a couple full body burns (even though they appear to be from borrowed footage) but unfortunately the production is so dismally shot and cheap looking that it lacks any semblance of entertainment value. I’ve seen shot on video movies edited on a VCR that look more professional than this.
Island of the Living Dead is an unfortunate epitaph on Mattei’s career. Masochists and those curious as to exactly how fucking bad a film can get might want to seek it out, but if you haven’t experienced Mattei before for the love of Christ don’t start with this one. It’s still better than that Talking Dead garbage that’s all the rage right now.
All content ©The Church of Splatter-Day Saints ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Latest posts by Duane (see all)
- Island of the Living Dead (aka L’isola dei morti viventi) (Bruno Mattei, 2006) - January 29, 2016
- Cementerio del Terror (aka Cemetery of Terror) (Rubén Galindo Jr., 1985) - October 29, 2015
- They Don’t Cut the Grass Anymore (Nathan Schiff; 1985) - September 25, 2015