The Dead Hate The Living! (2000)

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You’ve got to get excited about a film with an exclamation point in the title! It promises excitement, adventure, and really wild things! Additionally, this one promises the dead, hating the living!

I was completely fooled by the opening of this film – a stew of rubbish special effects, a doctor who appears to be a little too much into corpses, and a remarkably unpleasant sex scene where a reanimated corpse eats and then has sex with the doctor – because it’s a film within a film. Boo! Saying that, the genre of “horror films set on the set of horror films” is surprisingly large – off the top of my head, “Return To Horror High”, “Shadow Of The Vampire”, “Terror Firmer”, and “Mute Witness”, but there’s loads more.

The film this bears the most resemblance to, at least initially, is Troma’s modern classic “Terror Firmer”, released the year before. The crew is an independent, low-budget one, and damn proud of it, breaking into an abandoned hospital to make what appears to be soft-core zombie porn. It’s a family affair – a brother (the director) and two sisters (star of the first scene, and snooty older sister who is paying for everything); the special effects guy is the brother’s best friend from school. Their conversations throw  references to other horror films around casually, too, although none of them seem to have a clue about the zombies that end up attacking them.

This film hinges on a decision which is a long way beyond stupid, and I need to break it down. While filming, they discover the mad scientist’s lair we were shown in a video flashback at the beginning, a Rob Zombie crossed with Christoph Waltz lookalike who’s managed to create zombies…then stuck himself in a large, ornate, upright coffin. So, an unspecified time later, they find his corpse, and, after a bit of debate, decide to use it in the film. This, of course, activates the coffin, which not only brings Christoph Zombie back to life, but opens a portal to a zombie dimension.

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Let’s look at the possibilities. First up, you can phone the police, and then local TV. They turn up and you say “we’re independent filmmakers, but even we don’t want to disrespect a corpse. By the way, follow us on Twitter for information on when the film comes out”, then the local TV station will probably do a follow-up when the film comes out – you might even get some national publicity.

Or, do you use the corpse in your film? Even ignoring that the family of the dead person would sue you, I’m pretty sure messing with a corpse is illegal in some way, so your film would be evidence of a crime and would be impounded, rendering all the time and money you’d spent on it pointless. Or you can choose not to tell people about the corpse, which means he’s just a prop and your garbage zombie film gets ignored like all the other garbage zombie films.

That’s the biggest problem, I’d say, but there are others. The first 45 minutes of the film is unbearably slow, and you end up just watching people make a film. This seems to be a recurring problem with Full Moon (see reviews passim), and the sad thing is that being students of horror such as they are, they really ought to have a better idea how the great horrors are paced. The first 15 minutes of the film have you believing that the more timid of the two sisters is going to be the star, but she just sort of wanders off about halfway through, barely to be seen again, and the central relationship feels like it was written by a single teenager who thinks that’s how adult relationships go. Perhaps most annoyingly of all, when the main bad guy is directing his minions, he says “Kill them all…slowly”. Literally every single person who gets killed from that point is offed quickly. Your cool-sounding lines need to be backed up!

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As the best possible review line about this film has already been taken (“the living hate The Dead Hate The Living”, which I’ll never be able to top) I’d best think of something positive to say. The sad thing is, this film has a heck of a lot to like about it! The central friendship is believable and well done, and the actual zombies, when they turn up, look great. The last half hour of the film is full of excitement too, and there’s a lot of good Full Moon comedy, but it’s too little, too late.

Rating: thumbs down

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One thought on “The Dead Hate The Living! (2000)

  1. Pingback: Oblivion (1994) |

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