Directed By: Dave Parker
Starring: Eric Clawson, Jamie Donahue, Brett Beardslee
Trivia: The hospital set at the beginning of the film is re-used from End of Days
Produced by Charles Band’s Full Moon Pictures, the company that gave us Demonic Toys and The Puppetmaster series, The Dead Hate the Living! is a decidedly low-budget affair, and as such suffers from some of the usual weaknesses that go hand-in-hand with indie filmmaking. Mind you, it’s not a total waste of time, but as zombie movies go, it’s far from the cream of the crop.
Wannabe film director David Poe (Eric Clawson) is shooting his newest picture, a zombie movie starring his lovely sister Shelly (Wendy Speake), his bitchy sister Nina (Kimberly Pullis), his buddy Marcus (Rick Irwin), and Eric (Benjamin P. Morris), who dreams of becoming a professional actor. Along with his best friend, make-up artist Paul (Brett Beardslee), and the pretty Topaz (Jamie Donahue), who handles the props, David drags the group to an abandoned hospital, which will provide the perfect backdrop for his undead opus. What they don’t know is that the last person to use this hospital was mad doctor Eibon (Matt Stephens), a scientist who, prior to his untimely demise, found a way to actually bring the dead back to life. After accidentally stumbling upon Dr. Eibon’s laboratory, David decides to shoot a key scene there. But when they fire up the dusty lab equipment, the troupe find themselves facing off against some real-life zombies!
The biggest problem I had with The Dead Hate the Living! was its characters, almost all of whom are far too broad to be believable (especially Nina, the nasty sister who, because she’s financing David’s movie, is playing the starring role). Produced only a few years after Wes Craven’s Scream, The Dead Hate the Living! also takes a page out of that film’s book by throwing in a slew of genre references, some of which are beyond obscure; at one point, David and Paul tell their lead actor, Eric, that he’s destined to become “the next David Warbeck”, a good performer who appeared in Lucio Fulci’s 1981 movie, The Beyond, but a name only die-hard horror fans will recognize.
The Dead Hate the Living! does have some good scenes: the opening “movie within a movie” sequence, where Shelly plays a mortician examining a dead body (Eric), is effective, while the zombie assault that fills the 2nd half of the film has its moments, and features an appearance by actor Matthew McGrory, a few years prior to his role as the deformed brother, Tiny, in Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. In the end, though, The Dead Hate the Living! is a movie that won’t linger long in your memory.