The films is also known as "Virus" (which is the original Italian title of the film), as well as "Zombie 2", "Night Of The Zombies" and "Zombie Creeping Flesh". Made at the peak of the early-eighties zombie fever, the film plays like a gory mix of the usual zombie cliches.
Hell Of The Living Dead is the story of four commandos who are sent in to Papua New Guinea to investigate the cause of a chemical leak at the research facility "Hope." The four commandos stumble upon reporter Lia and her cameraman. After discovering that the dead are walking and devouring the living due to the chemical leak, the group attempt to flee the country.
- Margit Evelyn Newton - Lia Rousseau
- Franco Garofalo - Zantoro
- Selan Karay - Max
- José Gras - Lt. Mike London
- Gaby Renom - Osborne
- Josep Lluís Fonoll - Vincent
- Piero Fumelli - Mr. Farrara
- Bruno Boni - Josie's Husband
- Patrizia Costa - Josie
- Cesare Di Vito - Technician Lawson
- Sergio Pislar - Technician Fowler
- Bernard Seray - Barrett's assistant
- Víctor Israel - Zombie priest
- Pep Ballenster - Reporter
- Joaquín Blanco - Professor Barrett
Virus started life as a film treatment written in 1980 by José María Cunillés and was latter fleshed out into a rather large script by Claudio Fragasso and his wife Rossella Drudi. As the market was hungry for zombie films in the wake of Lucio Fulci's blockbuster Zombi 2, two studios specializing in low budget horror, Dara Films in Spain and Beatrice Films in Rome, pitched together to option the script.
The original script, set in Africa, would have been much too expensive for Dara/Beatrice to produce, with scenes involving ships full of dead bodies and a corpse mincing plant, so Bruno Mattei, well known for being able to work with scant finances, was brought on board to direct with the help of Claudio Fragasso. Filming took place in Barcelona over a four-week period where all the exteriors were shot before the production moved back to Rome to finishing filming at Studio Mafera. Shortly after this, Mattei realized that the footage shot in Spain was insufficient and partially unusable. Dara had decided not to rewrite the script before the production began and henceforth much of the footage shot was random in its nature; indeed much of the film's plot is incomprehensible.
In an attempt to "exotic" up the production and give the protagonists another set piece to duke it out with the zombies in, Mattei suggested that footage from the pseudo-mondo documentary La Vallée be incorporated into the film and sets built to mirror the village from the documentary so new scenes could be shot. This was readily agreed to by the nervous producers at Dara/Beatrice, who were anxious to get the production back on track. As Mattei was busying himself with the studio filming, Claudio Fragasso was given free rein to shoot some new special effects shots (mainly consisting of zombies getting shot in front of a dark backdrop and the famous hand in face ending) to gore up the film, again at the producer's request.
The "fog" style attempt to save the production continued with a new ending tagged on, and the addition of some of Goblin's famous music from Dawn of the Dead (this nearly landed the production in hot water as Goblin claimed that the producers did not have permission to use their score). With all the new additions to the film it now ran over 100 minutes and consequently some of the original footage was removed prior to release in November 1980. Dara also edited the film further prior to submitting in for UK release.
Hell of the Living Dead is one of the most "alternatively titled" films of all time:
- Zombie Creeping Flesh
- Cannibal Virus
- Night of the Zombies (USA)
- Zombie Inferno
- Zombies of the Savanna
- Inferno dei morti-viventi (Italy)
- Zombi 2: Ultimate Nightmare (Italy)