Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Nights of Terror / Le Notti del terrore (1981).

Whoo, another Final Girl Film Club!

I had to buy the DVD from eBay as it doesn't seem to be widely available in the UK. Which is a shame, because it is some pretty great Italian sleazy silly horror fare.

The Nights of Terror was directed by Andrea Bianchi and also goes by the name of Zombie 3, one of three movies to do so in fact; the others being Zombi Holocaust (1980) and La orgĂ­a de los muertos (1973). The Zombi series of films all gets terribly confusing, but I hope I'm not being presumptuous here when I state that I doubt the two films mentioned above are quite as curiously entertaining as this one.

The set up is that a professor with an immense beard manages to reanimate the dead whilst working in a crypt. He finds a stone tablet with what looks to have Wingdings etched onto it...

...and the next thing he knows some reanimated corpses are advancing on him. Laying the foundations for all of the death scenes in this film, he doesn't run away or attempt to put up any real fight with the decomposing attackers. He pleads with them, tells them "I'm your friend!" and then gets eaten. Offal for everyone!

For a reason not explained, he had previously called a group of couples (and one very odd child) to the house, to tell them of his discovery. They have no idea what he was up to, and therefore no idea that as they frolic through the house and grounds, the undead are slowly but steadily closing in, bent on eating the flesh of each and every one. Who will survive and what will be left of them? Etc etc.

So the group of socialites arrive, oblivious to the impending doom that's shuffling up the hill toward them. They think nothing of the prof not greeting them when they get there, and set about making themselves at home in the gorgeous surroundings of the vast villa.

Making themselves at home involves having sex, of course. One of the women finds some raunchy underwear in a trunk(?) and parades around in it. Then her partner utters one of the more memorable lines in the movie:
"You look just like a little whore - but I like that in a girl."

Evelyn (Maria Angela Giordano) checks on her son Michael (Peter Bark) before indulging in any bedroom antics. She finds him seemingly asleep - but is he really?

Anyone who writes about this film has to mention Bark. Due to the incest/oedipal subplot in this film, a child actor could not be used. Step up one Peter Bark, a midget thespian and, as many other reviewers have said before me, potentially far creepier than the zombies in this film. I mean, just look at the guy.

"Young" Michael (I think he's meant to be about ten or eleven?) has an unhealthy obsession with his mother. After escaping a zombie attack, he takes the opportunity to make a move on Ma.

He's rewarded with a slap in the face, and runs off, returning later as one of the undead - still holding a fascination with his mother's breasts. Deliriously happy to have her son back with her, Evelyn finally permits him a suckle. Bad idea.

This storyline makes an already crazy film one hell of a lot crazier. It's brilliant.

I can't go any further without a mention of the zombies. Artist Giannetto De Rossi was Fulci's favoured one, and you can tell. These zombs are of the "we are going to eat you!" variety, which means heavily decomposed, wormy, robed. They look like they are part clay, like they have merged with the earth somehow after burial. They totally rock.

My favourite is probably this one however:

I am a big fan of the one staring eye. He reminds me of Dr Tongue, too, I think it's the hair.

As an aside, one of the "newer" therefore less rotting members of the zombie horde in this film, really looks like my mate Rob.


When any walking corpses meet a sticky end, the pleasing effects work continues. We have shotgun blasts to the head, making them explode in an unsettling dry, dusty manner; we have noggins being smashed in with rocks, disintegrating into large pieces. One assumes that the thick make-up was just being knocked off, but it looks amazing as it crunches to bits and falls off of the actor's head.

Watching these zombies has made me question how I do my make up for zombie walks. I think things are going to get much more putrefied in future. These guys are genuinely unsettling.

In many ways the zombies come across as somewhat smarter than the humans; as they surround the villa and relentlessly pick off victims. They are also adept at using tools. One scene involves the maid meeting a grisly end as a zombie wields a scythe...! In an excellent sequence, she is pinned and then beheaded from beneath the window she is leaning out of. Shadows are utilised to hide what the fx couldn't stretch to. Never mind that she probably could have escaped, had she really thought about it - it works well and was the best death scene in the movie.

I'm so glad I enjoyed this film. I feel like I have watched a lot of shit horror lately. Yes, the people are stupid, the acting is questionable and dubbed sex noises are one of the most un-erotic things ever. Yes, the closing quote has two spelling errors in it:

But I don't care. There's boobies, oedipal issues, quotable lines and amazing electronic music on the soundtrack. This film delivered. It's also as old as I am. Go team '81!


  1. I saw this from about nine years ago and the thing that sticks out for me is that freaky looking kid/dude and when he bites his mom's boob.

  2. I'm not suprised. It's quite a shot. He gnaws on it for ages as well doesn't he?!

  3. Just saw this movie last night and the FIRST thing I did the next time I sat down to a computer was google the kid who played Michael to find out his REAL age at that time. He was supposedly born in 1955 which would have made him 26. That "subplot" TOTALLY threw me for a loop! When you first see him laying in bed at the mansion... all creepy like... I'll admit you have to know something is up and they are going somewhere with it but I was STILL totally shocked when he puts the moves on mommy. EW! WTF??!?!? Anyway- I'll agree- I enjoyed adding this movie to the list of zombie movies I have seen. It was definitely special:)