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  Zombie Creeping Flesh Eat This!
Year: 1980
Director: Bruno Mattei
Stars: Margit Evelyn Newton, Franco Garofalo, Selan Karay, José Gras, Gabriel Renom, Josep Lluís Fonoll, Pietro Fumelli, Bruno Boni, Patrizia Costa, Cesare Di Vito, Sergio Pislar, Bernard Seray, Victor Israel, Pep Ballenster, Joaquín Blanco, Esther Mesina
Genre: Horror, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: There is a top secret experiment being staged at this chemical plant and research laboratory, but it appears to have backfired on the scientists. When a couple of them are investigating the equipment, one notices a dead rat lying among some important components and picks it up incredulously to show his companion - but it's not dead, springs to life, bites his hand and somehow gets inside his protective suit, chomping away at him until he dies. Just as this occurs, a leak of the gas the plant was developing begins to affect the workers, and the chief scientist realises he has just opened Pandora's Box as the shambling masses of the undead begin to march...

Yes, it's zombie time again, from the era's first heyday, or rather from somewhere near the middle, where the Italians decided that it would be a great idea to find inspiration in the works of George A. Romero. This had been going on since the likes of The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue in the seventies, but the arrival of Romero's Dawn of the Dead energised the genre and prompted a bunch of productions following that model, with Dan O'Bannon's Return of the Living Dead a few short years later being the last word in eighties zombies before they made a major comeback in the twenty-first century.

As with that later period, the appeal of such things back then rested on how easy it was to make zombies your villain. They didn't need any characterisation, or lines, or complex motivation, all they had to do was wander about in grotty makeup (nice and cheap) and occasionally catch up with one of the professional actors in the cast to take a bite out of them: here the shoulder is the preferred area for doing this, although there is the odd calf or rubber finger munching bit. Unfortunately for those seeking intelligent entertainment, the likes of Bruno Mattei, our director with this, showed how hard it was to make truly involving movies as Romero had, and many opted for the crowd pleasing gore to keep the interest afloat.

Which brings us to Zombie Creeping Flesh, one of a number of names for this effort, which was helmed by one of the trash masters of the awful, if such a thing can be, Mattei. Aspiring to Lucio Fulci's lead here, he is now known for fashioning some of the worst exploitation movies of his era, but someone like that can find themselves with a following if they're consistent enough, and few would accuse him of falling below (or rising above, perhaps) his own standards. Nobody would mistake this for great filmmaking, but it does have a certain candour in its desire to provide the shocks it is aiming for on the lowest budget it could, and there are those who respond to that - or maybe they respond to seeing zombies getting their heads blown off.

That's when the characters remember that the only way to stop one of the undead is to shoot 'em in the head, as they're reminded at least twice by one of the soldiers yet still fire at the chest, which will send you to frustratedly shout at the screen "The head, you fools!" Although the story opens at that plant, most of the action is set in a Third World jungle, where a group of journalists, including Lia (Margit Evelyn Newton), are feeling threatened by the natives, or the dead ones at any rate. They meet up with a group of soldiers who we have seen shooting terrorists (they had a terrible warning about the gas to convey, but were gunned down first), and together are picked off one by one by helpful locals dressed up as zombies, along with about half an hour of stock wildlife and anthropological footage edited in to bump up the running time. Yes, it's shoddy, it's idiotic, it's all chasing the most disgusting image available, but those could be seen as plus points. Music by Goblin, which may sound familiar.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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