Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 2nd, 2014
Theatrical Release Dates: Italy, 1980 (Hell of the Living Dead), Italy, 1984 (Rats Night of Terror)
Director: Bruno Mattei (Both Films)
Writers: Claudio Fragasso, José María Cunillés (Hell of the Living Dead), Claudio Fragasso, Bruno Mattei, Hervé Piccini (Rats Night of Terror)
Cast: Margit Evelyn Newton, Franco Garofalo, Selan Karay, José Gras, Gabriel Renom, Josep Lluís Fonoll (Hell of the Living Dead), Ottaviano Dell’Acqua, Geretta Geretta, Massimo Vanni, Gianni Franco, Ann-Gisel Glass, Jean-Christophe Brétigniere, Fausto Lombardi, Henry Luciani, Cindy Leadbetter, Christian Fremont, Moune Duvivier (Rats Night of Terror)
BluRay released: August 26th, 2014
Approximate running times: 99 minutes (Hell of the Living Dead), 97 minutes (Rats Night of Terror)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Both Films)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English (Both Films)
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
Besides being an obvious cash in on George R. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, this film also uses music cues from Dawn of the Dead and Luigi Cozzi’s Contamination.
From a narrative stand point this film does a good job setting everything up and then just letting the chaos unfold. Also the plot moves along briskly and the special effects, especially when it comes to gore is sufficiently gruesome. And when Mattei isn’t using stock footage, his direction is actually very good. Another area where this film often surprises and holds up will is its use of humor in the dialog, ‘Hey you. What are you staring at? Are you hungry? Ah, I get it. You want a little bite outta me. Sure, why not? What meat do you like? Drumstick… or wing?’
The acting is best describe as adequate, though there are a few performances that do leave a lasting impression most notably Franco Garofalo’s delirious performance in the role of Zantoro, one of the soldiers sent to the plant in New Guinea. His character is also responsible for the above quoted section of dialog. Another performance of note is Margit Evelyn Newton whose character provides this film with some much needed T & A by stripping for the natives. And though it is easy for most to knock a film like Hell of the Living Dead, the end result is far from the train wreck many proclaim it too be!
Rats Night of Terror: In a post-apocalyptic future a group of bikers seek refuge in an abandoned laboratory overrun with flesh eating rats.
Reportedly this film is one of Bruno Mattei’s personal favorites. Also just like Hell of the Living Dead, this film also draws inspiration from a George R. Romero film, only this time the film is Night of the Living Dead.
This time around Mattei is even more hampered by lack of resources and the end result is film that often gets obscured by its short comings. And without a doubt the most damming thing about this film is the one thing that is meant to menacing (the Rats), is anything but. The plot is slow moving and though there are a few moments meant to surprise the viewer. The film never manages to establish any real momentum. Also from a performance stand point the only reason why the performance work as well as they do is because this film like Hell of the Living Dead is filled with delirious dialog. Another thing that I did find enjoyable about this film is its WTF ending.
Hell of the Living Dead and Rats Night of Terror come on a 50 GB dual layer (42.8 GB) BluRay. Both films are presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. For this release Blue Underground has gone back to the source and created new transfers. And the end result is easily some of their best work to date. There are none of the issues on these transfers that plagued any of their previous Italian releases. Colors look nicely saturated and vibrant, black and contrast levels look strong throughout and details look sharp. Grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
Each film comes with one audio optioon, a DTS-HD mono mix in English. Range wise though limited at times, the end result for both of these audio mixes far exceeds its limited mono source limitations. Dialog is always clear, the score sounds robust and everything sounds balanced. Subtitle options include English SDH, French and Spanish.
Extras include poster and stills galleries, the international (3 minutes 46 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and the Italian trailer for Hell of the Living Dead (3 minutes 47 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and two international trailers for Rats Night of Terror (2 minutes 9 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and (3 minutes 54 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and the Italian trailer (3 minutes 56 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen). Other extras include an interview with director Bruno Mattei (8 minutes 39 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles) who discusses the inspiration behind both films, special effects, locations, the cast, the use of Goblin’s music in Hell of the Living Dead and his thoughts on these films. This interview is ported over from Anchor Bay’s and Blue Underground’s DVD releases for these two films.
Rounding tout the extras is a documentary titled ‘Bounded by Blood’ (50 minutes 14 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles) which includes comments from producer / screenwriter Claudio Fragasso, actress Margit Evelyn Newton and actors Franco Garofalo, Ottaviano Dell’Acqua and Massimo Vanni. The bulk of this documentary is with Claudio Fragasso who discusses his collaborations with Bruno Mattei and how he directed several films that Mattei took credit for, his wife Rossella Drudi and her contributions to the films he has work on, how overcoming limited resources made him a better filmmaker, how the Horror film genre is his favorite to work in, his transition into action cinema in the late 1990’s and he also discusses in depth Hell of the Living Dead and Rats Night of Terror. Topics the actors discuss include how they got their roles, improvising, what is was like to work with Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso and plenty of onset recollections. Also part of the documentary is shot as De Paolis Studios (where Rats Night of Terror was shot). Overall another exceptional release from Blue Underground.