Archive for Bruno Mattei

Rats: The Night of Terror (1984) Review

Posted in Rats: The Night of Terror with tags , , on September 26, 2014 by Last Road Reviews

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RATS: THE NIGHT OF TERROR

*** Out of 5

Tagline- Mutants of a Nuclear Disaster.

Release Date- August 3rd, 1984

Running Time- 97-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Claudio Fragasso & Herve Piccini

Director- Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn)

Starring- Richard Raymond, Alex McBride, Janna Ryann, Richard Cross, Ann-Gisel Glass

When it comes to the films of Bruno Mattei I can’t confess to being a huge fan of his work, but I easily get the appeal of his films. Quite honestly the only films by Mattei I enjoy are Rats and Hell of the Living Dead and to some degree The Other Hell. I can tolerate some of his other films, but only Rats and Hell of the Living Dead are the films I find myself revisiting. By many Mattei is considered the Italian Ed Wood and I think I’d have to agree with that. Bruno Mattei was very much one of the kings of schlock cinema and his films aren’t exactly high quality and I think Mattei was very much aware of that. His goal was just to craft a fun film and seeing as he’s gained cult status its obvious he was able to accomplish that in his career even if a lot of what made his films fun weren’t always intentional. I enjoy some of Ed Wood’s films and I also enjoy some of the films by Juan Piquer Simon (Pieces, Slugs) who’s often dubbed the Spanish Ed Wood so I again easily get the appeal of Bruno Mattei, but I find the good bulk of his work to be a bit sluggish at times and I go from enjoying them to getting a bit bored. Hell of the Living Dead is perhaps my favorite film by Mattei, but Rats would be a very close 2nd. I knew of Rats, but never saw it and I bought the DVD when it was released by Blue-Underground and it just sort of sat there on my shelf for a few years until I finally watched it in 2013. As I mentioned even in the films I enjoyed by Mattei I still have issues with them and Rats as stated is no exception and while the film may have been better served with a little bit of editing to tighten the pace, but when all is said and done Rats more or less proves to be silly fun and the twist at the end of the film is one of the most absurdly hysterical things I’ve ever seen and its an ending that has to be seen to be believed! .

The good portion of the films Bruno Mattei is known for were written by Claudio Fragasso and Fragasso also served as co-director though only Mattei received the directing credit however during the opening credits for Rats, Fragasso does get his own credit as co-director under the name Clyde Anderson. The partnership between Mattei and Fragasso would last several more years with such films as Strike Commando and Zombie 3 (half the film was directed by Lucio Fulci, but reshoots Mattei & Fragasso). However around the time of Rats, Claudio Fragasso would also start making films on his own without Mattei mostly using the alias Clyde Anderson or Drake Floyd and his first directing credit was Monster Dog (1984), which starred Alice Cooper and his other notable credits would be Zombie 4: After Death and the infamous Troll 2.

After nuclear war has ravaged the planet a group of survivors head up to the surface to find supplies, but along the way come across thousands of rats that have a taste for human flesh!

The screenplay by Claudio Fragasso & Herve Piccini is a lot of fun filled with characters who more often than not make the most idiotic of choices. While the characters lack depth they are however quite fun to watch as they say the silliest of things and as stated make the most moronic of choices. The basic idea behind the film was Night of the Living Dead only instead of zombies they’re replaced with Rats. The concept is quite absurd and if you know the work of Claudio Fragssso you should know exactly what to expect. Even if not intentional, Fragssso’s writing and directing is schlock and I don’t think any of us would want it any other way, however with that said the writing here is probably better than the bulk of Fragssso’s work and while they may not exactly be a glowing compliment, but at the end of the day the absurd nature of the script by Fragssso & Piccini is a lot of fun.

Director Bruno Mattei under the name Vincent Dawn crafts a fun film that’s quite absurd and silly, but is generally a fun film in its idiocy. Running at 94-minutes, Rats can still feel a little overly long in spots, which as mentioned is the issue I have with a lot of Mattei’s work. Despite his best intentions, Rats is quite light on suspense, but what it lacks in suspense it makes up for in fun. Claudio Fragasso played a big part in the direction and in some cases he may have been the driving force in the films he worked on with Mattei. Rats is a low budget film, but to the credit of Mattei & Fragasso it does look professional. For me the film works due to my fear of rodents and there are some creepy moments, which have more to do with my fear of rodents than the direction. Rats is schlock cinema at its finest and while the pacing can be sluggish, but Mattei and Fragasso deliver a fun ride.

The cast is actually quite strong and fans of Italian horrid will no doubt recognize many of the cast members such as Ottaviano Dell’Acqua under the name Richard Raymond, Massimo Vanni under the name Alex McBride and Geretta Geretta under the name Janna Ryann being the most notable.

Bruno Mattei would pass away May 21st, 2007 at the age of 75 from a brain tumor. The height of his cult following were in the 80s, but he continued making the same type of films he was known for throughout his career even as other Italian filmmakers moved onto other genres or retired. Even towards the very end Bruno was still at it with his last 3 films being The Jail: The Women’s Hell, which was a WIP film and than there was Island of the Living Dead and Zombies: The Beginning with both being released in 2007 the year he died. The fact that Bruno never strayed too far at least to me shows he had a passion for what he was doing. The market for these films were fading in the early 90s and were basically dead by the end of the 90s and as for Italy these kind of films for the most part died in the very early 90s. But yet Bruno kept churning them out even in the last few years of his life. I can’t really see these films turning much of a profit, but I can’t say for certain, but seeing as his partner in crime Claudio Fragasso moved on as did such filmmakers as Umberto Lenzi and Lamberto Bava my guess is passion in these films had to be the biggest reason he never stopped making them.

Rats was released on blu-ray by Blue-Underground on August 26th, 2014 in a double feature along with Hell of the Living Dead carrying over all the same features with a brand new documentary, which covers both Rats and Hell of the Living Dead and actually has some of the actors taking part as well as Claudio Fragssso. While there are little tidbits on Fragssso & Mattei the good bulk of the documentary focuses on the two films. As for the audio and video on Rats it’s actually quite terrific and makes for a major upgrade over past DVD releases. The blu-ray release is not only one of the top releases of 2014, but also one of the best from Blue-Underground.

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Zombie 3 (1988) Review

Posted in Zombie 3 with tags , , , , , , on October 12, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

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ZOMBI 3

** ½ Out of 5

Release Date- July 29th, 1988

Running Time- 95-Minutes

Rating- NR

Screenplay- Claudio Fragasso

Director- Lucio Fulci & Bruno Mattei (un-credited)

Starring- Deran Sarafian, Beatrice Ring, Ottaviano Dell’Acqua, Massimo Vanni, Ulli Reinthaler, Marina Loi

Released in 1988 Zombie 3 continued the downward spiral for Lucio Fulci who in my opinion with the exception of Cat in the Brain, didn’t really make a good movie after the New York Ripper in 1982 and some even feel the decline started with Ripper, but I disagree and consider that one of Fulci’s best movies and his best of the 80s. Cat in the Brain again is the only post-Ripper movie that I liked a lot and I can tolerate Murder Rock from 1984 and Zombie 3 is better than anything else he made in this time, but that really isn’t saying much. I would hate for people to see this movie and form an opinion on Lucio Fulci since this in no way showcases what he could do as a filmmaker. When people think of Fulci they think of his splatter flicks of the 80s and while these were enjoyable films, movies such as Don’t Torture a Duckling, Seven Notes in Black and Zombie 2 really show what a wonderful filmmaker he actually was. When most think of Zombie 2 they think of the excellent gore F/X and for good reason, but the movie had a lot more than just gore F/X.

As I’ve stated before in many reviews for late 80s Italian horror flicks by this time the tide was turning on them and not long after this with the exception of Dario Argento, Italian horror was pretty much dead and seeing some of the movies to come out of Italy at the time that really isn’t a shocker. The one thing that surprises me about Zombie 3 is how weak the production values are, which is something that plagued a lot of late 80s Italian horror flicks except films by Argento and Michele Soavi. Zombie 3 is easily one of Fulci’s weaker efforts, but my biggest gripe is how this feels nothing like a Lucio Fulci movie. If not for his name in the credits I never would have guessed he made this movie; legendary hack filmmaker Bruno Mattei also played a part in this film, but more on that later. Apparently at the time of Zombie 3, Fulci was in poor health and according to writer Claudio Fragasso would throw pages away from the script refusing to shoot them.

Writer Claudio Fragasso is really terrible at what he does regardless if he’s writing and or directing I don’t think the guy could make a halfway decent porno flick, but yet for some odd reason I keep watching his work. According to Fragasso, Fulci threw the pages away because he deemed them too complex, but normally Fragasso has an excuse on why his films often come out so poorly, but I think Fulci was throwing away pages because he realized what a turkey the script was. Fragasso for the most part rips off George A. Romero’s The Crazies as well as taking elements from various zombie movies to write a screenplay so poor it’s sort of entertaining. Fragasso also attempts some social commentary, but everything is so laughably bad all this ends up being lost. The characters are total idiots and if anyone can remember any of their names you deserve an award. True a lot of horror films have weak characters, but these characters are total idiots with zero depth. The structure of the script is weak and Fragasso once again shows what a clueless of a filmmaker he is.

Director Lucio Fulci fails at really delivering much suspense and or excitement and seems to simply be going through the motions. The pacing of the film can be quite dreadful at times and despite running at only 95-minutes it does seem longer and the movie really could have used a shorter running time. Like I said earlier in the review I’d hate for people to see this and judge Lucio Fulci as the movie has nothing to show what made Fulci an Iconic horror filmmaker. After the movie was done it was said to be too slow and after editing it was too short and Fulci refused to do any reshoots so enter Bruno Mattei and the really sad thing is this might be the best work of his career. By this time in his career one would think Bruno would have learned a thing or two about filmmaking, but I guess not. In typical fashion Bruno Mattei delivers a hack job, but at least it has a couple of fun moments. Mattei’s scenes are just as sloppy as Fulci’s, but I actually found the pacing a tiny bit better. Regardless, Zombie 3 is a weak film in the career of Lucio Fulci and a decent film in the career of Bruno Mattei.

Make no mistake Zombie 3 is a bad movie, but that is why I sort of enjoy it. As for the zombies they range from slow moving to rather fast with one even wielding a machete! Some zombies have a few lines and others are silent. This is probably due to two different directors. You’d think Bruno Mattei would follow what Fulci was doing, but I guess not; but seeing as Fragasso’s script has no structure either not much of a surprise things constantly change.

The gore is fairly decent; it’s not the gore fest like some of Fulci’s prior work, but Zombie 3 has some decent gore, but could have used a bit more. But gore-hounds should be semi-pleased even if again it could have used more and it also wasn’t all that great. The zombie make-up I honestly didn’t really care for. It looks way too cheap.

My review is negative, but there is some fun to be found here; the idiotic characters can sort of make things fun at times and the machete zombie was quite fun and the zombie head in the fridge that comes flying out at one of the characters was hysterical. While Zombie 3 does have fun moments the movie isn’t as enjoyable as it could have been. At this time in Fulci’s career you can’t have too high expectations and with Fragasso and Mattie involved that also should lower expectations. I have a love/hate relationship with this movie and my enjoyment or lack of really depends on my mood. Once again I can’t stress enough don’t let this movie form your opinion on Lucio Fulci and it’s quite sad to see how low his career sank.

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Hell of the Living Dead (1980) Review

Posted in Hell of the Living Dead with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2012 by Last Road Reviews

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HELL OF THE LIVING DEAD

** ½ Out of 5

Tagline- They Eat the Living

Release Date- November 17th, 1980

Running Time- 103-Minutes

Rating- R

Screenplay- Claudio Fragasso & J.M. Cunilles

Director- Vincent Dawn (Bruno Mattei)

Starring- Margit Evelyn Newton, Franco Garofalo, Selan Karay, Jose Gras, Gabriel Renom, Josep Lluis Fonoll

Released in 1980 Hell of the Living Dead (one of its many titles) was directed by Vincent Dawn who is better known to horror fans as Bruno Mattei and the best way to describe this movie is if George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2 had a bastard child it would be this movie. Hell of the Living Dead is a prime example on how to not make a movie, but over the years it’s built up a large cult following due to how bad the movie is and it falls under the title of so bad its good, but quite honestly I was never able to fully get into this movie even on multiple viewings. I have warmed up to the movie, but I still wouldn’t rate it very highly.

I very much get the appeal of Hell of the Living Dead seeing as I’m a big fan of J. Simon (Slugs, Pieces), but overall when it comes to the films of Bruno Mattei I enjoy them to a certain level, but I’m also a bit bored with them as well, but Mattei has built up a very loyal following and again I get the appeal of the movie and his films in general even if at the end of the day they don’t do much for me.

Also involved with the movie is Claudio Fragasso who has graced us with such movies as Zombie 4: After Death and what is dubbed the ultimate so bad its good movie Troll 2. It’s quite amazing that two of Italy’s worst in Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso would form a partnership and the two delivered quite a few schlock films I suppose it was a match made in cinema hell.

The screenplay was written by Claudio Fragasso & J.M. Cunilles and overall it was rather horrid. There were some attempts at social commentary, but when the writer is Claudio Fragasso it doesn’t work very well; I suppose one can label the screenplay an idiot’s version of Dawn of the Dead. The script by Fragasso & Cunilles is filled with horrible, but often funny dialogue and the characters are easily some of the dumbest to ever grace the horror genre. However the biggest problem with the screenplay is the lulls in action; despite some horribly funny dialogue after a while it gets rather boring, but some of these problems aren’t due to the script it’s more on the editing side, but after a while watching stupid people do really stupid things gets quite tiresome.

Despite how many times the characters are told to shoot the zombies in the head they continue to do anything, but that. At first it’s kinda funny because these people are such idiots, but after a while it really started to grate on my nerves. The highlight of the movie towards the end finds one character entering a house and putting down his rifle and finds a tutu and begins to dance around. It’s moments like that, which makes it hard to totally hate this movie. But in the end despite some horribly funny dialogue the script is just too pathetic.

Apparently besides Fragasso and Cunilles, Bruno Mattei and Rosella Drudi (Fragasso’s wife) also contributed to the screenplay, but both are un-credited and if true it makes things even more amazing that it took four people to write such garbage it’s like they were all working with the same brain, which isn’t a good thing. Overall the script is quite poor, but it does have some very funny moments and made funnier by the attempt at social commentary.

As director Bruno Mattei delivers a movie that is prime example on how to not make a movie. The pacing of Hell of the Living Dead is often sloppy and when there are lulls in the action the movie can be quite boring. Hell of the Living Dead is filled with stock shocks of tribes and animals from a documentary and the footage actually takes up a few minutes of the film and after a while it gets quite annoying. But I suppose in some ways this can also maybe add to the charm of the movie. But after a while these stock shots really start to slow things down.

Some of the problems with the movie are more due to the editing and at a 103-minutes the movie is quite overly long, but no amount of editing would make much out of Hell of the Living Dead. The zombies shuffle around like a bunch of idiots and aren’t intimidating in the least. The action sequences are laughable and I’m convinced that Bruno Mattei would find a way to mess up a porn flick. Everything in Hell of the Living Dead is so incompetent that it makes the movie a little bit of fun. There are movies that are just downright horribly made and while that does describe Hell of the Living Dead it’s also horribly made in a way that does provide a few fun moments.

Not all is lost however with the movie since the final act is surprisingly decent; while Mattei is unable to build even an ounce of suspense the final act is fairly good and the final few minutes in particular; the fate of the main characters was a nice twist and the final scene really plays out quite strong and even leaves things open for a sequel, which thankfully never came to be. For all the problems with Hell of the Living Dead, Mattei actually does a decent job with the final act and one might be better off fast forwarding to these scenes and leave it at that.

When watching the movie if you think the music sounds very familiar you are correct; the score by Goblin is taken from George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead as well as a couple of other Goblin composed movies and that really makes the movie a bigger hack job. Mattei would also use a score by Goblin from one movie in another of his. The Other Hell used the score from Joe D’Amato’s cult classic Beyond the Darkness and if not mistaken, Hell of the Living Dead also features portions of the score from Beyond the Darkness.

Due to all of this it’s kinda difficult to fully hate this movie; I mean it’s just such a hack job from poor editing, writing, moronic characters, cheap looking zombies, mostly lame gore (except towards the end), music ripped off from other movies, and a guy dancing around in a tutu. These elements in part might make the movie a little more fun than it should be and while I totally get the cult appeal of the movie, but overall despite a few things here and there I was mostly bored during the movie.

Besides the SWAT member dancing around in a tutu another highlight is Lia (Margit Evelyn-Newton) stripping down running around with the native tribe in a scene that is rather hysterical, but brought down by the fact it seems like forever until it ends.

Overall Hell of the Living Dead is a rather poor flick that knocks off both Dawn of the Dead and Zombi 2 and while the film is very poorly made it does have its fair share of fun moments, but not enough for me to fully enjoy the movie. I get the cult appeal, but for the most part it was too idiotic even for me, but fans of cult cinema just might wanna give this one a shot.

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