Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Nights of Terror (Le Notti del Terrore)

Another day, another Spaghetti Zombie flick. Fresh from the prime years of Italia's Zombie cycle comes Andrea Bianchi's Nights of Terror.

This film has been called a lot of things. Good isn't usually one of them. IMDb reviews run from a verdict of "unintentionally hilarious" to "unbearably awful" and, whilst there's definitely elements of the latter, I must side with the former.

Like so many of the others (and indeed, most of the films I cover here...) it gets off to a bad start on paper.
  • Andrea Bianchi cut his teeth very much on the porn side of exploitation films: his previous titles to this included Confessions of a Frustrated Housewife, Strip Nude for Your Killer and The Erotic Dreams of a Lady.
  • The film has almost no plot
  • The scenes are pretty much split equally between the central characters fumbling with each other and the central characters being hunted by zombies.
Of course, you could very well argue that some of those may be positives....

^^ There is literally nothing that gives away that this film was made in 1980.^^

The 'plot' can be pretty easily dismissed as: luxury-loving loved-up couples spend some time at a castle/mansion house. Zombies rise from their graves. Zombies kill central characters. The end.

The characters are similarly bland; in the film's defence, things to move at a good enough pace that we are hardly given time to consider how little depth Bianchi gives his protagonists but.... on the flipside: whenever any one of them dies, there's a fairly large temptation to shrug your shoulders and mutter, "oh well". It's not as if we really ever care about any of them. The women especially (as might be expected from a 1980 Italian exploitation horror) are completely characterless. Of the prominent women, one is zombified fairly early, the other encounters her slaughtered son and hardly utters another word whilst the third.... She is so enormously irritating in the typical 'all-a-woman-can-do-when-confronted-by-something-scary-is-scream' manner that, when she stumbles into a (rather oddly placed) bear-trap, I was vaguely pleased. Sadly, all it means is that she screamed and squawked for the rest of the film, albeit now with added limping.

Frustratingly boring characters aside, the zombification is quite fun. The make-up is somewhat heavier than normal (in the vein of the Spanish conquistadores of Fulci's Zombi 2) but they are pleasingly grotty with maggots and all. The gore is a little thin on the ground perhaps, but the bits we do get are fairly satisfying. And THAT breast-feeding moment needs no more elaboration...

Perhaps I'm being too harsh. After all, for all the lack of plot, the flat characters, the atrocious dubbing, the obviously budget-limited set, this film moves along at a keen pace and is a lot of fun. Maybe not one to treasure, watch again, or even remember but... if you're after a fun film to watch, in which stupid people get killed by the undead, this might just fit your requirements.

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