"Night of the Zombies" (1984)
   aka "Virus" (Italian--1981)
     Movie review by William Moriaty


Beatrice Films, Roma
Executive producer: Sergio Cortona
producer: Isabel Mula
Directed by: Vincent Dawn (Bruno Mattei)
Written by: José Maria Cunillés
Music by: Goblin
Starring:
Zantoro........FRANK GARFIELD
Lia Rousseau........MARGRIT NEWTON
Lt. Mike London........SELAN KARAY
Run Time: 100 minutes
Color

This 1984 Italian import starts out with a group of lab boys in white smocks monitoring experiments taking place in a factory located in Papua. Deep in the bowels of the factory are two employees in full radiation gear reporting back to Professor Baron. One of the two employees picks up what appears to be a dead rat. The dead rat becomes reanimated and begins devouring the employee by crawling beneath his radioactive suit and chowin' down (the actor moving his own hand around beneath the suit and acting terrified is cheesy enough, trust me). The factory's vents spring a leak contaminating the factory and before you can say "voodoo", zombies are all over the place making Happy Meals out of the factory workers.

Meanwhile at the American Embassy
Giving the movie a more modern-day touch we next pan to the scene of a group of elite Interpol special agents dressed up in Union Blue and acting as a United Nations S.W.A.T. team to take out a bunch of terrorists holding hostages at the American Embassy in Papua. The terrorists claim that the factory mentioned above, one of many in underdeveloped nations, is part of a covert U.S. initiative known as "Operation Sweet Death" that will bring about the end of the world if allowed to continue. Also giving the movie a more modern-day touch is how the U.N. is just as ineffective and irrelevant dealing with this problem as any other they have ever been faced with. Nevertheless Lt. Mike London (hereinafter known as Jim Dandy) and his S.W.A.T. team manage to kill those rascally terrorists and save the lives of all of the hostages. The day is saved (for about ten minutes)!

When In Papua
We next pan to the backwoods of Papua where a vanload containing a news reporter known as Lia Rousseau, her photographer Mac (who looks like a Furry Freak Brothers version of the video game character Mario), a man, his wife and their ailing 7-year old son stop long enough near some rural housing for a rest break. Inside one of the houses the wife discover the grotesque body of a dead man who becomes reanimated as the living dead. Lo and behold as she approaches the body, the music, beautifully scored by the 80's techno-group Goblin, quickens. The majority of the Goblin soundtrack is the same that was used in the 1981 Cannon release "Alien Contamination", and I found myself transformed to how I felt in 1984 when I first saw "Alien Contamination", and first heard the great soundtrack by that group. Nevertheless, faster than you can say "George Romero", the wife becomes a "Biggie Size" treat for the poor starving Papuan zombie. Simultaneously, the 7-year old son dies from his infection and becomes reanimated, giving deadly hickies to his poor papa.

Jim Dandy to the Rescue
As the lovely Lia Rousseau and her photog companion Mac (hereinafter known as "Wolf Blitzen"---what the heck kind of a name is "Mac" for a high-caliber photographer?) are attempting to get frisky by a creek, zombies appear from out of the bush. But lo and behold, nearby are Jim Dandy and his poor man's French Foreign Legion to save the day for Lia and Wolf. That's when the body count really rises as Jim Dandy and his band of renown start blasting away at Papua's finest undead.

Lia, Lia oh Lia
Remember that old 1981 song "Leah" by that sort of nerdy-looking new wave artist that tried but failed to be as big as Elvis Costello? Well, like him you'll be singing the praises of Lia once you see her runnin' around the jungle bare-breasted with only face paint and a loin cloth on. Quote: "I lived in the bush for years and know how to interact with these people!" Let me get this straight Lia, -- you really think that no tribesman is going to notice some bare breasted white chick with a S.W.A.T. team and a news photographer swarming around her as being just a little bit unusual or questionable? ... Rrrrrriiiggghtt.

Zombies, Zombies and More Zombies
At the bushman's version of the Saturday night hoedown, Jim Dandy and his S.W.A.T. team, as well as Lia and Blitzen encounter yet more zombies in their efforts to get out of the country into a hopefully more "Zombie-free" zone. Interestingly enough, by this part of the movie it becomes glaringly apparent to me that the dubbed voice of Lia Rousseau is that same voice that was used for Louise Monroe in her portrayal of Lt. Stella Holmes in the 1981 movie "Alien Contamination" mentioned above. If it can be this easy in a movie to dub voices for different characters from the same dubber (Holmes and Rousseau being the "dubbees") just think of how easy it would be for this same dubbing consortium to swarm Baghdad with fake Saddam Husseins--kind of makes you wonder, don't it?

Will They Make It Out of Papua Alive?
By now you've pretty much determined that this is no enlightening eco-tour of an underdeveloped nation populated by indigenous women with over-developed breasts-no, this place with its zombies rather makes a stroll through Bed-Sty or the South Bronx a walk through the park by comparison. Complete with very graphic chow-down scenes, and occasional blasts of obscene language, for the schlock/zombie/blood-and-guts aficionado, this '80s flick with its really enjoyable musical score by Goblin is nevertheless a must-see.


The movie synopsis and review of "Night of the Zombies" is ©2003 by William Moriaty. "Schlockarama™" is a part of Crazed Fanboy™ dotcom and all contents are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova

Crazed Fanboy  |  Schlock Homepage