Wednesday, October 14, 2020

the return of bruno.

Recently realised it's been too long since I gorged myself on the genius that is Bruno Mattei so thought I'd dip into his sticky back catalogue and dredge up some old reviews in the hope of attracting some new readers.

Or any readers if I'm honest.


Island of the Living Dead (AKA L'Isola dei morti viventi. 2006)
Dir: Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn).
Cast: Yvette Yzon, Franco Miguel, James L. Gaines Sr, Ronald Russo, Ydalia Suarez, Alvin Anson, Gary King Roberts, Curtis Carter and Thomas Wallwort. Stars one and all.

Why can't more films have artwork like this?

Many years ago on a mysterious Spanish ruled island a group of (strangely Filipino looking) Conquistadors are having a wee bit of bother with the witch doctor and his chums.

You see, it seems that as soon as anyone dies they immediately come back to life as pasty faced angry zombie/vampire/general undead thing.

Which is nice.

The forts soldiers are having the worst of it tho', seeing as they've got the incredibly monotonous job of piling the corpses onto the back of a wagon just to see them re-animate and wander off again.

Slightly annoyed by this turn of events, the islands captain decides it'd be much easier to shoot them in the head and set fire to them.

Which would be great if one of his overzealous pals hadn't decided to torch the curtains too.

Confused whether to be more afraid of the undead hordes outside or the chance of burning to death, the entire garrison of terrorized soldiers flee....running straight into a band of sword wielding, zombie pirates.

Don't you just hate it when that happens?

Is your hair all you let down when you have a drink?

Meanwhile, in 'the modern times' (did you really think that Mattei would have the cash to do a period piece?) the good ship Dark Star - a very expensive salvage/research vessel cunningly disguised as an old tug - and it's hearty crew are busy combing the ocean floor for discarded Ferrero Rocher boxes to sell to rich collectors on the chocolate box black market.

No really.

It's not been going too well this trip tho' as after 6 months at sea all they've found are a few old tins, a used condom and a bit of wood so with morale at an all time low (they've obviously not read the rest of the script) the crew decide to give up and go home for tea and biscuits.

Of a non-soggy kind obviously.

But just as they're about to put the boat in reverse the team's pocket sized scientist Sharon (the yumsome Yvette Yzon) announces that shes located a submerged sweet shop chock full of booty.

Tho' none as stunning as hers it has to be said.

All is going swimmingly, until that is the crew begin to raise the big plastic model of the ambassadors reception that houses all the still sealed Rocher's and pop it on board.

After a flying start the ambassador's legs drop off  causing all the chocolate to go cascading back into the sea.

Discouraged and a little disheartened for about five minutes, the crew decide to crack open a beer and break out the Pringles before realizing that the could just go to a cash and carry and easily purchase a mountain of fresh Ferrero Rocher and with that thought begin heading home.

But there's even more bad luck on the horizon, a spooky mist has enveloped the vessel forcing it to run aground on a mysterious, uncharted island.

The ships drink sozzled captain, the unfortunately named Kirk (the gone to seed David McCallum lookalike that is Sir Ronald of Russo), decides that they'd better explore whilst Max the bubble permed engineer (Wallwort) stays on board to drink Lilt and shout at the engines in a vague mix of cliché and slightly racist characterizing.

Inside David Paisley's mind.

Arriving on a deserted beach the crew do what is expected in any horror movie worth its salt and decide to split up to explore.

Sexy Sharon, tubby George Galloway wannabe Mark (Roberts) plus the hulking, bleached blond (and oh so slightly fey) Tao (Miguel) will go and search for food and water, whilst the ever more tipsy Captain Kirk, cool guy Fred (Anson, looking like the long lost son of Erik Estrada), shouty and permanently pre-menstrual Victoria (pouting, poppy eyed popstrel Suarez famous for her massive hits including Stars in Love) along with the superbad mo-fo Snoopy (Gaines) go looking for other stuff.

Seriously you need a notepad to keep track of this cast.

Making their way thru' the thick jungle vegetation (oh OK then, a local kiddies adventure playground) Sharon and co. stumble across an old an old cemetery (as well as their dialogue) shrouded in the same ghostly fog that enveloped the ship before it ran aground.

And slowly lurching out of that mist towards them is a shambling figure that may have once been a man.

Well technically it is still a man, he's just dead but writing "And slowly lurching out of that mist towards them is a shambling figure that upon further inspection is just a normal guy who happens to be dead yet walking" really doesn't have the same sinister ring to it does it?

"Aaarrgghhh...this isn't what I meant
by taking me up the casino!"

Sharon, obviously thinking that the scene needs a wee bit more tension, decides to stand perfectly still allowing the putrefying tramp to get close enough to grapple her to the ground (perhaps she likes a bit of rough?) and thus giving Mark a chance to shine as he trips over a plywood gravestone before screaming for help.

Luckily Tao is a champion kick boxer who's been itching for a fight since they arrived on the island, so he's more than happy to jump in and fight the undead groper whilst his two colleagues leg it to safety and leave him to get bitten to death.

Friends eh? I think we can safely say that they weren't there for him.

Elsewhere on the island, the crusty Captain Kirk (I'm sorry, but it makes me laugh just typing it) and his merry band have discovered the overgrown ruins of the Spanish outpost.

Taking tentative steps into the dark, dank interior, Fred manages to go crashing thru the floor, falling headfirst into a dusty torture chamber full of joke shop skeletons, pound shop candles and a mysterious book bound in pigs ear and inked in Crayola.

Kirk, showing off reads a few pages, pointing at the illustrations and making animal noises as he goes.

Snatching the book from his hand (why is she so impatient? Does she have a prior appointment?) Victoria begins to translate the passages not covered in crude nob drawings or shite revealing that the tome she is holding is the infamous Book Of The Dead that foretells of a time when the dead will return to life and devour the living.

Been done, hasn't it?

Beware the binmen!

Back on board the boat, Max is onto his twelfth can of pop and passing gas like a steam engine as his vain attempts to repair the engines - by rubbing them whilst shouting abuse at anyone within earshot (i.e. himself mainly) - comes to nothing.

Hearing a banging on deck, as well as noticing a faint whiff of cabbage mixed with stale urine, he assumes that Kirk has come back to check up on his progress, so as you would imagine Max is rather surprised when a gaggle of undead Spaniards start tottering down the engine room steps toward him licking their stringy lips in anticipation.

Understandably he begins to panic and, whilst attempting to escape accidentally hits the 'blow the ship up' lever.

What do you mean real ships don't have one of those?

Bruno would never lie.

"Ron Resrie!"

The resulting explosion brings everyone running back to the shore just in time to see what looks like a giant paper cut-out of the Dark Star sink slowly beneath an almost hypnotically undulating blue bedsheet, leaving the brave crew trapped on a zombie infested island for the foreseeable future.

If not longer.
Kirk and co. must quickly find a safe haven for the night if they're to survive on this mysterious, undead filled island.....

Or this?

Aah, good old Bruno Mattei, whilst most of his contemporaries gave up on the zombie horror genre after the bubble burst in the late eighties, Bruno decided to soldier on, partly in the hope of topping his magnum opus Zombie Creeping Flesh but mainly because he really, really liked zombie films.

Which I say fair play to, I mean as Susan Boyle said (well she more likely violently spat the words out whilst twitching but you get the idea) everyone needs to dream.

And it was this dream took him from his native homeland of Italy to the temperate jungles of the Philippines via the guerrilla realm of digital video technology and top quality local totty.

And the results were well worth the plane fees.

With it's wafer thin plot, copious amounts of stock footage and rough edged special effects, Island of the Living Dead resurrects the golden age of the shlock horror zombie genre, dragging it kicking and screaming into the straight to DVD age.

And it seems nothing has changed except the ethnicity of the actors involved.

But trust me, dear reader when I tell you that this is, in fact, a good thing.

Yzon: you would. Twice.

Featuring a heady mix of zombies along with an ample helping of vampirism, Voodoo and a snatch of flamenco dancing, Mattei bravely sticks to what he does best, which of course is churning out no-budget horror 'epics' whose plots are straining under the miniscule budgets involved.

Which goes to prove once and for all that God does indeed love a trier.

As do I.

Steps have let themselves go.

Worth a looksie for the first appearance of latter day Mattei muse Yvette Yzon (star of the sequel Zombies: The Beginning and Anima Persa) alone, Island of the Living Dead is an off coloured, moss stained gem of a movie, worthy of a place in the tarnished crown of Italian undead epics.

Unless you've been force fed a diet of David Robert Mitchell/Rob Zombie movies when frankly you shouldn't even be wasting my time reading this.

Go on, treat yourself today.

Then clean yourself up and go purchase this.

You know you want to.

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