Friday, April 17, 2009

Graveyard Disturbance / Brivido giallo - Una notte al cimitero (Italy,1987)

Three years after the immensely enjoyable Demons (1985/trailer) and a year after the almost as enjoyable sequel Demons II: The Nightmare Returns (1986/trailer), director Lamberto Bava – the son of Mario Bava, the great Italian master of low budget atmospheric horror – ralphed up this flick, Brivido giallo - Una notte al cimitero, released as Graveyard Disturbance in English-speaking countries and as Zombie des grauens ("Zombie of Horror") or Die Gruft ("The Crypt") in German-speaking countries. In its native country of Italy, this flick was actually a television movie – and boy, does it ever show!
A co-sexual group of five extremely dislikeable and mentally deficient teenage jerks (three guys, two gals) on the lam from one of the most incompetently executed cases of mass-shoplifting avoid the cops by detouring down a dirt road that leads past a cemetery and down deep into an impenetrable fog. Slogging through the mist, in another act of utter stupidity they bog their van in a deep stream and continue on foot, first stumbling upon dinosaur tracks and then upon a deserted church and then, finally, upon a "creepy" inn built beneath the church populated by scarred and unfriendly cretins with red glowing eyes. The cretin innkeeper bets them a fortune that they can’t survive the night in the crypts located below the inn/church and the five more or less take up the bet and eventually all climb down the ladder into the bowels of the earth where they meet zombies and stuff and run this way and that way and scream and run and argue and run before they finally get back up to the inn, kill the innkeeper, collect the treasure and get arrested by the cops.
Or at least that is what happens in the German "uncut" version.
The film has some great-looking zombies and two good intentional laughs but is, on the whole, one boring piece of shit that starts and goes and ends nowhere. Bava swipes from, among other sources, his own films (the glowing red eyes are a take on the glowing eyes of Demons), from his own Dad (the horse-drawn hearse going by in slow motion is swiped from the indefinitely superior Black Sunday (1960/trailer)), from Dario Argento (the slimy pit scene in Phenomena (1985, trailer)) and possibly from Carnival of the Souls (1962), for the abrupt ending of the German version leaves one thinking that it could be the case that the five brats were actually dead the whole time and they didn't know it. (This assumption arises from the fact that they van supposedly is left stuck and immobile in the water, but is later found by the cops at the bottom of a steep incline.) But since the last point is never truly clarified in the film, one must assume that all five teenage jackasses actually survived with nary a scratch.
Although marketed as a horror film, Graveyard Disturbance is definitely not played seriously and thus, unsurprisingly, completely fails as a horror film. Far worse, however, is that for a film possibly played for laughs – as is evident by the two best scenes, those of a zombie awakening to fondle the breasts of another zombie and promptly getting slapped for doing so, and of a family of undead freaks being disturbed at their braised-rat banquet by the teenagers – the film is painfully bare of laughs. Despite one or two atmospheric shots and some scary-looking zombies, Graveyard Disturbance is an example of sloppy, lazy filmmaking at its uncreative worst. Avoid this turkey at all costs.

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