Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Curse of the Screaming Dead, The (1982)

...aka: Curse of the Cannibal Confederates
...aka: Curse of the Confederate Cannibals

Directed by:
Tony Malanowski

Distributor Troma did their usual routine with this horrid excuse for a movie by giving it an appealingly campy re-release title (CURSE OF THE CANNIBAL CONFEDERATES), so that people will want to watch it. Don't be fooled. Apparently the Troma Team also re-edited this film (which was originally titled THE CURSE OF THE SCREAMING DEAD) in hopes of adding some more action to the slower passages. Well, it didn't work. This one falls into the sub-category of 'zombie soldier' flicks which also includes a mostly lousy series of 'Nazi zombie' flicks such as OASIS OF THE ZOMBIES and ZOMBIE LAKE. While Oasis and Lake are indeed horrible, they at least had some 'Z Movie' entertainment value (cheesy gore, nudity, occasional laughs) to them. This one has no entertainment value whatsoever. It's thoroughly inept, as you'd expect a good-bad movie to be, but at the same time it's so tedious, slow, obnoxious and boring, the unintentional comedy becomes overshadowed by the sheer monotony of it all.

Some zombies rise from their graves in a church cemetery. The next day a group of thoroughly annoying people show up in the same area in their RV. The men, there for a hunting trip, are unshaven, long-haired hippies whose hobbies include sucking down cheap beer, shooting forest critters with exploding bullets and ragging on klepto Mel (Christopher Gummer, who doubled as the stunt coordinator) for stealing a ring and a motorcycle. The girls; shrill, unbearably annoying and whiny "feminist" Sarah (Rebecca Bach, rockin' a Farrah Fawcett haircut) and two Asian women who are sisters (one of whom is blind), bitch about how lame hunting and beer are. They change into bikinis, step out of the RV and then immediately put their hiking clothes back on for some strange reason. I guess that was a pitiful excuse to show a little skin. Everyone grabs their backpacks and rifles and start trekking through the woods. With all the whining, arguing and talking going on, half the forest animals have probably high tailed it out of the county before they get five feet into the woods. After hearing church bells off in the distance, Mel decides to go ahead and scout the area by himself. He ends up making it to the cemetery and to an old, crumbling church. There he finds a suitcase with a confederate flag and diary inside. He takes the diary and rejoins his friends. Even though everyone hears strange noises (bells, firing rifles, etc.) coming from seemingly nowhere, they decide to drag their cooler of beer and tents close to the cemetery to camp out for the night.

After nearly 40-minutes of unbridled boredom and horribly, awkwardly acted, written and edited dialogue scenes, the group see some strange flashing lights off in the distance by the church. That night, zombies dressed in Confederate uniforms rise from their graves and attack. The guys fight them off with their rifles and some fireworks. They also learn you can only kill them by shooting them in the head (original, huh?), which leads to lots of cheap dummy heads catching fire and exploding. Everyone manages to escape, but at daylight find themselves lost in the woods, unable to find their vehicle. When the local police chief shows up, he theorizes that a grave digger had dug up the graves, removed the corpses, tied strings to them and then hung them from trees and made them dance like puppets. I kid you not. That's exactly what he says. Night falls again, zombies attack and kill the deputy, the chief and Bill (Jim Ball). So here it is an hour into the film and we finally get some actual blood and guts, as the zombies yank out the insides of their victims and chow down. And like the rest of the movie, it's dull, gratuitous and the takes are way too long, plus there are these horrid groaning and slurping sounds that sound more like sound bites from a porn movie than a horror flick.

The survivors of that attack; Wyatt (Steve Sandkuhler), Sarah, Mel, Lin (Judy Dixon) and "Blind Kiyomi" (Mimi Ishikawa) then run off into the darkness, fight off more zombies and make it to an abandoned farmhouse. More zombies show up there and try to get inside. It is at this time I noticed they must have run out of Confederate uniforms for the flesh-eaters because some of them are dressed like farmers in flannel shirts and jeans, others are wearing trench coats and one is wearing what appears to me a "Member's Only" jacket. Will our heroes finally pull their heads out of their asses and realize they need to hand the diary back over to the undead soldiers to save themselves? I doubt you'll care by that point. I sure as hell didn't.

Every single aspect of this unrelenting bore-fest is terrible, from the sloth-paced plot to the sound recording. The acting is atrocious, the dialogue is horrendous, the editing cuts are incompetent, it's full of continuity errors and the makeup effects are mostly "Halloween make-up kit" variety. Most of the zombies simply have white faces with some black undereye shading. A few of them have skull-like masks, which look slightly better but still suck. Undoubtedly the worst aspect of this particular film is the lighting. Most of the action takes place at night and since the movie is so impenetrably dark it's hard to tell what the hell is going on half the time.


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