March 24, 2015 6:04 pm

The popularity of zombies didn’t start with the TV show The Walking Dead and the movie Zombieland. Horror fans have loved and developed cult followings of zombie movies since the 1970s, the decade George A. Romero came out with Night of the Living Dead. Low-budget American zombie movies inspire Italian filmmakers to make their own zombie films. Many American audiences haven’t seen Italian zombie films, but these five films are worth watching for their gory, comedic and frightening moments.

Let Sleeping Corpses Lie by Jorge Grau 

In the 1974 film, antique store owner George and his traveling companion Edna get an unexpected surprise when they travel together to the countryside to George’s country home. When they arrive in the remote area, the pair starts to notice the use of radiation to kill insects and the presence of dangerous roaming creatures. After the death of Edna’s sister’s husband, a overly ambitious detective begins to question George as a suspect in the murder. George and Edna have bigger worries as they are pursued by the undead, brought to life by radiation in local farmers’ pesticides. Director Jorge Grau wrote and directed a number of horror films in the 1960s and ’70s, including Violent Blood Bath and The Legend of Blood Castle.

Hell of the Living Dead by Bruno Mattei

Originally known under the title Virus, the movie Hell of the Living Dead follows a commando unit as it travels to Papa New Guinea after a chemical leak at a local plant. The group soon meets up with a camera crew, headed by reporter Lia Rosseau, and finds out the the government and military have been trying to cover up the goings-on at the facility. The two teams find out the island has been taken over by zombies, created by an recently unleashed virus. They must fight for survival as the flesh-eating zombies pursue them. The film is currently seeing a resurgence of popularity thanks to the El Rey network’s rerunning of it (click here for listings). Director Bruno Mattei was also known for his Nazi exploitation films and horror flicks such as Rats: Night of Terror. He directed many of his films under the pseudonym Vincent Dawn.

 The House by the Cemetery by Lucio Fulci 

Released in 1981, The House by the Cemetery is in many ways similar to later classics such as The Shining. In the movie, Dr. Norman Boyle, his wife and his son Bob move from New York to New England to the former home of Norman’s colleague, who murdered his mistress and himself. Norman sets out to find out about the killing, but he ends up discovering the house has a much darker past and a hidden secret inside the basement. The film brings a number of supernatural elements, including ghosts that appear before the family members inside the house. The Italian version of George A. Romero, Lucio Fulci not only directed horror flicks such as A Lizard In Women’s Skin and Don’t Torture a Duckling but also established himself in the western, musical and comedy genres. During his heyday, the controversial filmmaker made two to three films a year.

City of the Living Dead by Lucio Fulci

The 1980 film City of the Living Dead delves into the supernatural when a priest’s suicide leads to an open portal to Hell in the New England village Dunwich. Journalist Peter Bell and Mary work together to try to find the “Gate to Hell”, through which the undead enter the world of the living. The film features a number of gory moments, including a sequence in which a zombie woman vomits her guts. The movie was originally known as Twilight of the Dead, but a cease-and-desist order from United Film Distribution Company prompted a change in the name and promotional posters.

Zombi 2 by Lucio Fulci

Released in 1979, Zombi 2 follows Ann Bowles and reporter Peter West as they travel to the Antilles island Matul to find out what happened to Ann’s father, a scholar who had been conducting research on the island. An empty boat, owned by her father, with a zombie inside prompts the investigation. When the two arrive, they discover Dr. David Menaro, a colleague of Ann’s father who is trying to find out why the dead have come back to life on the island. In one of the most memorable sequences of the film, a zombie tries to take on a shark underwater. Although the movie appears to be a sequel of Zombi, the movie Zombi was the Italian version of Dawn of the Dead.

Article by: Jared Hill 

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This post was written by Nadia Vella