Wednesday, October 9, 2013

#1,150. Erotic Nights of the Living Dead (1980)

Directed By: Joe D'Amato

Starring: Laura Gemser, George Eastman, Dirce Funari

Trivia: This film was shot at the same time as Porno Holocaust, with the same cast and crew

Zombies and hard-core sex may seem like strange bedfellows (pun intended), but thanks to director Joe D’Amato, who made a career out of exploring the seedier side of human nature (along with helming several of the Emmanuelle films, he also delved into horror-themed erotica with 1981’s Porno Holocaust), that’s exactly what we get in 1980’s Erotic Nights of the Living Dead.

Businessman John Wilson (Mark Shannon) is sent by his company to finalize the purchase of a tropical island, which they intend to transform into a luxury resort. He hires a ship’s captain (George Eastman) to take him and his companion (Dirce Funari) out to the island, but as they quickly discover, this tropical locale isn’t exactly paradise. Warned by an elderly man and his granddaughter (the stunning Laura Gemser) that a curse has been placed on the entire area, the three visitors soon find themselves squaring off against a veritable army of the undead, all of whom have a craving for human flesh.

That’s the premise, but really, does it matter? Like many hard-core films, the story in Erotic Nights of the Living Dead is often put on hold, giving the characters ample opportunity to get down and dirty with each other. In one scene, the businessman, Wilson, hires two prostitutes to spend the night with him, resulting in a very graphic “encounter” (they kick things off in the shower before moving the action to the bedroom). In fact, for most of its running time, Erotic Nights of the Living Dead is a whole lot of “erotic”, and not much “Living Dead”. The zombies turn up occasionally throughout the movie (an early sequence set inside a morgue is fairly memorable), but it isn’t until the end of the film that they truly make their presence known.

Erotic Nights of the Living Dead is not what I would call a good movie. For one, the pacing is dreadful (half the film is over before the main characters visit the island for the first time), and, like many of D’Amato’s works, the emphasis here is placed squarely on the “extreme”, a la sex and gore, leaving things like character and plot woefully under-explored (which might not have been a bad thing if the gore scenes were convincing. Sadly, they weren’t). Still, it has its merits; some of the sex scenes are well shot, and the island setting is positively gorgeous (it was made on-location in Santo Domingo). In the end, I can’t recommend Erotic Nights of the Living Dead, but I’m guessing that won’t stop some of you from checking it out.

I mean, a movie featuring both sex and zombies kinda sells itself, doesn’t it?

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