OCTOBER 28 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : CURSE OF THE SCREAMING DEAD
Amazing Review From agonybooth.com
I just want to say right from the start that this zombie-themed Rogues roundtable wasn't my idea. There's no way in hell I would have picked a topic that finally forced me to review The Curse of the Screaming Dead. Let's just say that as I watched this film, there was plenty of cursing and screaming going on, but it definitely wasn't coming from the dead.
As regular visitors to this website will remember, a little less than six months ago I reviewed a film with much of the same cast and crew, the Baltimore-filmed Night of Horror, which may not be the worst movie ever made, but is certainly a worthy contender for the title. Recalling moments from this film is like compiling a list of everything you're not supposed to do in a movie.
I mean, who could forget not so "special" effects that consisted mainly of shining car headlights through dry ice fog? Or the glacially-paced "ghost" voice that took longer to finish a sentence than Quentin Taratino takes to make a movie? Or the soundtrack that consisted of the same three chords pounded on a keyboard so many times that you thought your ears would bleed?
And who could forget the long, static shots that showed us nothing but two actors from the back for minutes on end? Or the dark, dingy, discolored Super 8 cinematography? Or the warped, muffled audio that made much of the dialogue nearly indecipherable? And most of all, who could forget the sheer number of klieg lights that ended up reflected into, or directly pointed towards the camera?
Impressive, no? And that's just the first five minutes.
Add to that an interminable four-minute segment of a camper crossing a bridge, a seven-minute musical montage of random Civil War footage that had nothing to do with the rest of the story, and a dark smudge on the lens that stayed there for over six minutes and was the movie's sole highlight, and it should be clear to anyone that very few films even approach the level of awfulness achieved by Night of Horror. And as bad as that film was, somehow, some way, director Tony Malanowski (the Agony Booth's latest Repeat Offender) and nearly the entire cast and crew returned one year later to make another movie, The Curse of the Screaming Dead.
Incredibly, after I posted my Night of Horror review, Tony Malanowski himself stopped by in the Agony Booth forums to offer insight into how both of his films were made. I'm not sure what motivated him to respond on my site, but probably the fact that I mentioned the name "Tony Malanowski" about fifty times in my review (and in mostly derogatory terms) might have had something to do with it.
You can read his comments in this thread, but the gist of Tony's defense of these two films is that he was well aware of how bad they were while he was making them. Certainly, I have to give him credit for at least being able to acknowledge that, but saying, "I knew the movie would suck" isn't a defense; If anything, it makes things even worse!
I can look at a movie like, say, Plan 9 from Outer Space and realize that Ed Wood wasn't trying to make one of the worst movies of all time. It just turned out that way because he didn't know what he was doing. That's part of what gives that movie its "charm". But on the other hand, when a filmmaker is well aware of just how bad his movie is, then I'm sorry to say he and his film deserve all the critical lashings they get.
And so I must soldier on and review Tony's second (and thankfully final) directorial effort, The Curse of the Screaming Dead. Unfortunately for this website, this film is nowhere near as awful as Night of Horror. (Though I have to say, that probably isn't even possible.)
But yet, it's still infinitely worse than most of the movies you've seen in your life. I've shown this film to a number of people that I knew could never withstand Night of Horror, and their jaws drop. Their eyes glaze over. Less than halfway into it, they're all desperately coming up with excuses for why they suddenly need to leave. I can't say I blame them, either. Very few films are this poorly acted, this ineptly filmed, or this incoherently plotted. We might not be in "worst movie ever made" territory, but we're not very far from the border.
However, unlike Night of Horror, this film actually does have a plot, and is (dare I say it) almost fast-paced towards the end. Unfortunately, it's much like Malanowski's previous outing, in that we first have to sit through banal interludes where we get useless background information on characters we would much rather see die horrible, gory deaths. Thankfully, this time around, most of them do die horrible, gory deaths. (Oops. Hope I didn't spoil anything.)
It also appears that Malanowski has decided to take things in a fresh, new direction. He was able to include honest to God real-live Asians in his movie! Apparently, the success of Night of Horror meant he could afford to hire the only two Asian actresses in all of Baltimore. Unfortunately, they don't add much to the proceedings, except to prove that, regardless of race, people are all truly equal. Which is to say, Asian characters in a Tony Malanowski film are equally as irritating as the white characters.
I pointed this out in my previous review, but I should also note that Tony Malanowski was eventually able to sell the rights to this movie to Troma Studios, who repackaged it as Curse of the Cannibal Confederates. (The version I'm reviewing here is the original Mogul release.) According to those who have seen that version, the print that was used for the Troma release is much, much worse, with visible dirt and hair constantly on the film. I'm almost sad that I don't have this version of the movie, because this is one film where I certainly would have appreciated the entertaining distraction of a Camera Smudge.
As expected, the opening credits of this film alone feature enough shoddy production values to make you immediately want to rip the tape out and run screaming back to the video store. First of all, the title appears in front of a what looks like a giant pawprint. (What is this, Blue's Clues?) Then we learn that this movie features none other than Steve Sandkuhler and Rebecca Bach, both in their greatest roles since Night of Horror. (In a brief moment of Video Box Idiocy, the cover spells Rebecca Bach's name as "Rebecca Baach", but that pretty much comes with the territory.)
Then there's a credit "Introducing Mimi Ishikawa". As far as I can tell, neither Jim Ball nor Judy Dixon appeared in any movies before this one, either, but for some reason they don't get "introducing" credits. Comically, we also learn from this credit that she's appearing "As Blind Kiyomi". Then we find out that, just like Night of Horror, this movie is another "Original Story Concept by Tony Starke", which I eventually learned is one of many aliases that Tony Malanowski uses in these credits. (Actually, in Night of Horror, "Starke" was spelled without the "E" at the end, but again, that comes with the territory.)
Then we learn that among this film's associate producers are people by the names of "R. Sommerwerck [!!]" and "Dick McLung [!!!]". I'm sure the Sommerwerck and McLung klans must be very proud to see their kin participating in this film.
We open with the camera inside an RV, pointed through the windshield as it heads down a country road. The trees are nearly devoid of leaves, so it looks like winter (although this will fluctuate considerably over the course of the movie). After several close-ups of the stripes on the road and more useless shots of trees, the RV eventually pulls over.
Steve Sandkuhler is at the wheel, and he's drinking beer [!]. We see that sitting next to him is a redheaded guy who looks like one of the Allman Brothers, and then we pan over to some guy with a handlebar moustache who's seriously overenunciating every word. Taking into account both his looks and his mannerisms, this guy reminds me of a young Weird Al Yankovic. Steve and Weird Al banter a little about how much longer it'll be until they reach their destination, and then Allman Brother asks for a sip of Weird Al's beer [?]. Weird Al says the cooler is right underneath him, but Allman Brother only wants a sip, and not a whole beer.
Without giving him said sip, Weird Al starts quizzing Allman Brother about "this Sarah chick", who I guess is his current girlfriend. Allman Brother monotonically explains that he's known her for three weeks, so Weird Al is unendingly amused that she's "already got him on the wagon!" Steve, however, sees the bright side of Bill giving up beer:
Then Weird Al cracks open his beer right in Allman Brother's face, spraying foam all over him. Allman Brother and Steve both take the opportunity to call Weird Al a "Jerk!" But Weird Al assures Allman Brother that he can slip out of the car before Sarah "even catches a whiff!" Allman Brother insists that he and Sarah have an honest relationship, which for some reason prompts Weird Al to lie back and seductively describe Sarah as "Rrrrrrrr.... Woof! Woof!" Yes, Weird Al, she is a total dog, as we'll soon see.
Allman Brother doesn't react at all to these lascivious comments about his girlfriend. Actually, given the rest of his performance, it seems "reacting" is not one of his strong suits. Anyway, Steve looks pissed off, so Weird Al insists that most of the beer ended up on Allman Brother, or as he's known in this film, "Bill".
Then they segue into a time-wasting argument about how far away their destination really is, and Steve and Bill totally beat down Weird Al's assertion that their destination is just over the next hill. Seriously, they use the phrase "over the next hill" at least fifteen times during this discussion. Finally, Bill spots a ring on Weird Al's pinkie and asks, "Blew a whole unemployment check, huh?" Actually, I think he only blew a quarter, because the ring looks like the kind that comes in a plastic egg out of a vending machine.
Weird Al won't come clean about where he got the ring, so the other two guys take turns asking, "Didja swipe it?" Then Bill alludes to an incident in the past where Weird Al got caught with a stolen motorcycle. Weird Al gets all defensive and yells, "I got off!" Steve tells him he "got lucky", and Bill asks again if he stole the ring, leading Weird Al to pound his fist on his leg and make a face like he's about to burst into tears [!].
Then we cut to our old friend Rebecca Bach in the back of the RV, and it turns out she's Bill's girlfriend Sarah in this movie. There's a lovely couple for you. Now, I know I said in my Night of Horror review that Rebecca Bach played "Susan" in both movies, but that turned out to be wrong. However, they're exactly the same character, so close enough.
It seems that in the down time between films, Rebecca Bach got contact lenses and curled her hair, and seems to be under the mistaken impression that this has now made her "hot". She also appears to be overcompensating for her utter bitchiness in the last film by being overly chipper here, delivering each line like she's getting goosed by a forklift. "Hey!" she cries. "Why'd we stop? Are we there? Isn't it just over this hill?" Good God, let's not get into that discussion again. She turns and knocks on the partition between her and the front cab.
We get an insert shot of an Asian girl who's supposedly sitting in the back of the RV too, but as expected, the background noises don't match at all. Asian Girl says the guys up front can't hear Sarah, but Sarah says she can hear the guys. She eavesdrops and proclaims that "Bill and Mel are arguing!" With "Mel" being Weird Al, I guess. The Asian Girl asks from offscreen, "What's it about this time?" Hilariously, her line is dubbed in, and it sounds like she was standing behind the engine of a 747 when she recorded it.
Sarah doesn't know, but asks Asian Girl if Bill and Mel fight a lot, and Asian Girl expositories that they were in the Marines together, and "Mel really wanted to fight. Bill told me—" After a huge pause, we cut to some other Asian girl saying, "I think it's another hour." I guess Second Asian Girl is supposed to be in the camper too, and that was supposed to be her cutting off First Asian Girl. But for a second there, it looked a lot like they recasted the part in mid-sentence.
Sarah just totally blows off Asian Girl #2, then tells Asian Girl #1 that she and Bill "never argue". Asian Girl #1 responds dismissively to this, but Sarah insists they don't fight. "Except, I like this hunting business even less than I like the Drain King." The Drain King? Oh, "drinking". I swear to God, I thought she was talking about a plumbing service for a second there.
"Wild animals are so sweet!" Sarah coos. "I could never kill one!" Asian Girl #1 says she "can't accept killing either. It's so pointless!" That's pointless? Has she seen this movie? Then the two have a brain-dead PETA-type discourse on the subject. The dialogue is so herky-jerky here, with such huge lags between sentences, that it's plain the two women weren't even in the same room, and this whole "conversation" was poorly edited together later.
Finally, Asian Girl #2 speaks up to complain about being hot. "I'm boiling! Let's get cooler!" Bow-chicka-bow-bow! She reaches into a bag, and Sarah talks "to" the girl, asking her what she's looking for and if she needs help. Asian Girl #1 steps behind that 747 engine again to say, "Sarah, I talked to you about that!" Sarah shrugs and makes a hideous face. Or, hideous-er.
Asian Girl #2 continues to dig around in her bag and calls out, "Lynn, you packed my bikini, didn't you?" With "Lynn" being Asian Girl #1. By process of elimination, that means Asian Girl #2 is "Blind Kiyomi", which I definitely was not getting. Blind Kiyomi asks for some help in finding her bikini, but Lynn angrily cries, "No! I told you when Mom and Dad died that you'd have to start doing things for yourself!"
Oh, my. This is abrupt. After a long period of silence, Sarah spontaneously stands up and takes off her shirt [!]. Ugh! Then, hilariously, Lynn spontaneously takes off her sweater, too. The funny thing is, I'm sure this was supposed to be the standard "titillation" moment that you see in actual horror films from the 80's. Unfortunately, it seems nobody actually looked at these girls before filming this scene. We get true horror as Sarah's jeans come down, revealing sickeningly pasty white calves in Judas Priest-style leather boots.
Sarah picks up a bundle of clothes. I guess it's Blind Kiyomi's bikini, because she throws the bundle at the girl. Lynn sees this and gives Sarah a dirty look, but says nothing. And spatially, this entire scene is all screwed up, because every time Lynn is "looking" at Sarah, she's looking in a totally different direction. Hey, maybe she's the blind one.
Then we cut to Weird Al, I mean "Mel", as he gets out of the camper. We pull back, and surprise, surprise, the camper is really the mighty Excalibur, the star of Night of Horror. All three guys slowly get out, and when Bill opens the back of the camper, all three women climb out in bikinis. Yeck! And for some reason, Sarah is carrying a big Moses-style walking staff [?]. Mel lets out a loud whistle and Sarah cries, "Oh, you guys are always thinking about that!" I was, until I saw this scene. Bill says, "You don't leave us much choice, Doll Face!" Then we get a shot that reminds us why Tony Malanowski is the master of the endless, static long shot.
Sarah catches the scent of beer on Bill's clothes and accuses him of drinking. Bill explains that Mel "spilled some beer down my throat!" Huh? Mel jokingly adds that Bill "spilled a six-pack of beer right down after it!" This prompts Steve to burst into giddy laughter.
Then we cut to Mel and Bill, and the lighting has totally changed, probably because it was a lot earlier or later in the day when they filmed this shot. Bill reminds Mel about some money he owes Bill, then offers to take Mel's ring as a down payment. Mel gets all defensive about his ring again, but Sarah comes over and wants a closer look at his Cracker Jack prize.
Sarah totally fawns all over the ring, saying a piece of jewelry like this makes a guy look "kind of um, sexy... you know?" Especially if he's wearing a life preserver jacket. "Hey, Bill," Sarah yells, "Steal me one, would you?" Mel once again looks close to tears as he storms off angrily. This is one of several supposed "running gags" in the movie, and sadly, probably the best.
Mel angrily goes to the back of Excalibur to pull out his backpack, and then we get a totally unnecessary close-up on Sarah's crotch as she zips up her jeans [!]. Remember what Michael Jackson did at the very end of the unedited car-smashing and masturbation segment of his "Black or White" video? It's exactly like that, only more disturbing.
Lynn is all dressed as she comes out of the camper, but Blind Kiyomi is still in her bikini for some reason. Lynn hands her some clothes, but Blind Kiyomi pouts and doesn't want to get dressed. This test of wills comes to head when Kiyomi finally agrees to put her clothes on. Lynn asks if she left anything behind in the camper, but Kiyomi says she doesn't remember and asks Lynn to check and make sure. Lynn angrily cries, "No!" But in a concerned, sisterly way, of course.
This angers Blind Kiyomi so much that she insists she'll be walking with Mel on their little hike. Boy, you know you're being a bitch when someone would rather hang out with the over-sensitive kleptomaniac version of Weird Al instead of you.
At the back of Excalibur, Bill tries to make peace with Mel by telling him not to worry about that money he owes him. This matter resolved, Mel pulls some bullets out of his jacket pocket, and Bill is outraged. "What are you going after, buffalo or something?" Mel tells him these are "exploding bullets!" Gee, that won't that be important later. Bill tells him that if he hit a deer with one of these, he'd blow half of it away. Mel counters with, "Oh, man, you don't know nothing! They're just cool!" Ha ha, suck on that, Bill! There's a close-up of the bullet as Mel carefully explains, "One shot, and pppfffffsssshhhoooo!" Wait, Mel, can you put that in layman's terms?
After a meaningless shot of a flower in Lynn's hand, we cut to the weary travelers all hanging out around Excalibur. Lynn goes to the back of the RV to tell Mel that Blind Kiyomi wants to walk with him. He cries out that Kiyomi's "just gonna slow me down!" Then Blind Kiyomi wanders back there, forcing Mel to quickly change his tune and say that it's fine. Then Mel just walks away, and ten minutes later, Blind Kiyomi robotically says, "Mel. I'm thirsty." Thirsty. Water. Sick blind girl. This is immediately followed by a violin cue [?] on the soundtrack.
Then Tony Malanowski demonstrates the only new technique he's learned since Night of Horror. The picture goes out of focus, there's a crossfade, and then the picture goes back into focus. I think if he spent less time worrying about camera gimmicks and more time getting the lighting to match from shot to shot, he might have had a better movie. Anyway, we crossfade to Lynn and Kiyomi, and Kiyomi is drinking a cup of water. Whew, I'm glad she's no longer thirsty. That suspense was killing me.
Then we cut to Bill Allman attempting to help Sarah get her backpack on, but she refuses this assistance, angrily declaring that men are "all brainwashed to think women are weak!" I take it back, "Sarah" is not the same character as "Susan". Sarah is much, much more annoying. Bill remarks that she must be getting these ideas from her sister, who's into "all that lib stuff". Sarah parries this accusation with a skillful "Hmph!" and wanders off.
Then we cut to Steve strolling through the woods, presumably "y'know, takin' care of business" just like in Night of Horror. Of course, the lighting doesn't match at all. In the shots of Excalibur, it looks to be early in the morning, but judging by the long shadows on the ground where Steve is, it's late afternoon. Steve Sandkuhler has now grown a beard, by the way, and no longer wears the sickly goatee of the previous film. (Which in no way implies that the beard is not sickly, too.)
Steve suddenly walks into the early morning shot with the other two guys standing by Excalibur. Steve grabs a backpack from inside the camper and asks Bill to help him put it on, which sends Sarah into a giggling fit for unknown reasons. Weird Al Mel asks the guys if they want to take that "other trail", but Steve says they don't know that "other" area as well. He's afraid they won't find "a decent campsite" but Mel says campsites are "a dime a dozen." Bill remarks, "Even at those prices, you won't get one unless you steal it!" Phrased correctly, this might have been a moderately amusing joke.
Mel fires back, criticizing their desire to play it safe and take the Road More Traveled. "We've been up that way so many times before, the deer know what kind of beer we drink!" Yeah, and they're sick of having to keep the fridge stocked with Pabst Blue Ribbon every time you guys come up to visit. Steve says he "don't mind" taking a new trail, and Mel cries, "Let's do it then!"
Bill asks, "Didn't anyone remember the fireworks?" [?] Fireworks? On a hunting trip? Bill says he put them in Sarah's backpack, and when Sarah hears this, she complains that she doesn't want to carry them. Mel laughs, "I'll tell your sister if you don't!" This leads to much mirth among the men. I guess her sister must have some radical ideas about women being able to carry fireworks or something. Sarah haughtily replies, "I'd like to see you tell her anything!" Despite this nonsensical statement, the guys just keep laughing at her, and this whole bit goes on for way, way too long.
The men eventually sigh and shove off with a cooler in tow. We cut back to Lynn and Blind Kiyomi, and Lynn takes a break from shouting "No!" to lead her sister off by the arm. We then see all of them walking through the woods. Of course, they do not simply walk into the shot. No, that would make sense. Instead, it's clear that they were all just standing there in formation, waiting for Tony Malanowski to shout "Action!" so they could begin walking.
Bill tells the guys about how much he wants to shoot a buck, specifically, a "big sucker", which leads to some lame banter between him and Steve about whether or not Bill has killed anything before. Then they continue silently walking along, until Mel suddenly lifts his rifle and shoots in the air at absolutely nothing. Hilariously, Blind Kiyomi is two feet directly behind him [!!]. She naturally looks rather perturbed by this. "Don't do that!" she yells. "I can't take loud noises! Tell me before you do that again!" This begs the question, of course, as to what kind of idiots would take a blind girl along with them on a hunting trip in the first place.
Anyway, this all prompts Lynn to actually show concern for Kiyomi and ask her if she's okay. Kiyomi replies, "I hear bells!" But Lynn assures her they're just in her head. Kiyomi screams, "It's not in my head, it's coming from over there!"
Nobody else hears anything, prompting Sarah to explain, "She probably hears lots of things we don't! Blind people generally have better hearing than the rest of us!" Hey, thanks for filling us in, Sarah. This just pisses Kiyomi off some more, and she ungrammatically screeches, "Don't talk about me like I wasn't here!" Sarah offers forth a very half-hearted "Sorry."
For absolutely no reason I can possibly fathom, Mel decides to "go check it out" and tells the others to stay put. So, they all set their gear down, and we get some misplaced "suspense" music as Mel walks through the woods with his rifle. Then he walks around some more. Then we cut to him still walking. Suddenly, he's still walking. And, hey, look, there's Mel walking around some more. But wait! There's Mel! And he's still walking!
Now, I can only think of two good things to say about this walking sequence:
1) It's shorter than the driving sequence in Night of Horror.
2) Actually, I could only think of one good thing to say. Sorry.
After a minute and thirty seconds [!!] of this, he comes upon a graveyard filled with cheap plaster tombstones. He continues strolling to a very warped set of strings playing a tune I shall call "The Theme from the Screaming Dead". It sucks, but at least it's not the Three Neverending Chords from Night of Horror.
Mel continues to examine lots of really flimsy tombstones. Finally, he kneels down in front of one and massages his chin. He sees something small and white in the dirt and digs it out, and it turns out to be "a wood-plated bullet! Coulda knocked a head off with that!" Because I guess the mention of "exploding bullets" wasn't enough justification for some of the things we'll be seeing later.
He eagerly puts the bullet in his pocket and continues on. He wanders around the graveyard, looking at each headstone to more of "The Theme from the Screaming Dead". Finally, he spots the ruined brick church from Night of Horror and squints at it.
Now it's onto handheld Shakycam footage of Mel wandering around the outside of the church. He climbs through the remnants of a window with his rifle still in hand. He then wanders around some more inside the brick ruins, and then, we see him wandering around some more. Seriously, I've lost all notion of time here. It's like it could have been about a thousand years since I started watching this movie and I wouldn't even know it. To tell you the truth, if I looked out my window right now and saw the Morlocks and the Eloi, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised.
To the sound of more warped violins on the soundtrack, Mel eventually stumbles over something and catches himself on a window sill. He looks down for a while, then stoops to yank up some weeds. He does this for an incredibly long time, until he clears away enough weeds to reveal a supposedly old steamer trunk. He opens it and stares inside for about twenty minutes, and then pulls out a suspiciously clean-looking Confederate flag and, for some reason, chuckles at it.
Then he pulls out a small blue leather book with brass bindings and solemnly examines the pages. Mel looks around warily, then stuffs the book in his life preserver jacket. He replaces the flag, closes the trunk, and we even get to watch as he puts all the weeds right back in place [?] before he finally takes off.
Then we hear the overdubbed sound of a loud church bell, and find the whole gang all hanging out near a tree. "Those bells again!" Blind Kiyomi yells. "Can't you hear them?" Amusingly enough, we can barely hear her because of how loudly overdubbed the bell sounds are.
Lynn doesn't reply, causing Kiyomi to panic and cry out, "No!" Susan expresses some perfunctory concern for her, then for little reason we cut to Steve off in the woods in that totally different late afternoon lighting, and he just looks around.
Blind Kiyomi is now full-on sobbing on Lynn's shoulder, but don't ask me why. The bells continue and then we hear what I think is supposed to be gunfire and/or cannons going off. Kiyomi cries out, "Mel's in trouble!" and takes off running. Unfortunately, she only travels a few steps before she trips on nothing and takes a tumble face first into the grass. Oh, those poor blind people, they can't even walk on their own. Idiotically, the "bell" sound effects abruptly shut off as soon as Kiyomi falls.
Suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, Mel appears. "Hey, guys!" he eagerly cries. "Look what I found!" Your girlfriend with a face full of crabgrass? Kiyomi gets up and runs right into him. She comments about the bells and the "other noises" and says, "I knew you were in danger!" Mel, however, has no idea what she's talking about.
We cut over to Sarah and Bill, and Bill snarks, "Oh yeah, here comes the snow job!" He then does a rather poor impression of Mel asking, "Bells? I didn't hear any bells!" Maybe he'll follow up this biting parody by cleverly asking, "Homosayswhat?" Mel insists he didn't hear any bells, and Bill replies, "Oh hell, you're the biggest!" What? The biggest what? Tell me!
Then we get a clip of Steve over in that other movie as he shouts, "Wait a minute, Bill!" Then there's a long, long pause where I almost thought Steve was about to yell out, "Hammertime!" Instead, Steve just says, "You really didn't hear them?" Mel insists that "I didn't even hear anything that sounded like bells!" Wait, what else sounds like a bell, besides a bell?
It seems the idea that Mel didn't hear bells threatens Bill's entire worldview, because he completely refuses to believe it. He says, "Kiyomi's scared half to death, and you're playing Idiot Games!" Now, that's not a nice way to refer to the Special Olympics. Then there's a long pointless discussion among Steve, Sarah, Bill, and Mel, all in different movies of course, and all arguing about whether there were or weren't bells.
This endlessly fascinating debate comes to a close when Mel tells them all to come look at the ruins he found. He says it's a good place to "dump our gear" and that they can "check out the graveyard" at the same time. Sarah is hesitant, but Bill says, "At least he found us a camp!" Yeah, and there are only a few corpses there, too. What more could you want? Mel leads the way, and somehow Blind Kiyomi knows exactly which direction to walk in order to follow after him.
Finally, the gang gets to the graveyard and sees all the cheap plaster tombstones. Mel examines one hunk of plaster and says, "No one's been here since the Civil War!" Steve doesn't think the owners of the graveyard would want them there, but Mel points out that there's no fence. Bill helpfully notes that "this place is at least a hundred years old!" Gee, you mean this totally ruined church wasn't being used last week?
Sarah stoops down to examine a tombstone with a lot of names on it, then we cut to Lynn saying, "What a lovely old church." You mean, those brick ruins? Yes, they are lovely. Hilariously, this shot of Lynn was obviously filmed near the tree where they were all hanging out, right before Mel returned from the graveyard. It's from the same angle and everything.
Then it's back to Sarah as she enthusiastically utters total nonsense: "Church? Hey... Church bells! Mel... You clown!" Uh-oh, you might bring Mel close to tears again. He whirls around and overenunciates, "WHAT are you WHI-ning about?" Sarah turns to Lynn and says, "You were right, honey!" Oh, man, I am so lost here. Then Sarah says, "Mel, you IDIOT!" Not that I necessarily disagree with her, but I'd really like to know what in the hell she's talking about.
She yells at Mel for scaring Blind Kiyomi, then we cut to Bill over in his own lighting and background noises as he laughs and says, "You goofy bozo!" [!!] I mean, bozos are cool, but a goofy bozo? Ouch! Bill's suddenly figured out that Mel was the one who rang the church bells to scare everyone, and he "even had Wyatt going". Who? Oh, I guess that's Steve's name is this movie. Wow, Steve is actually not playing someone named "Steve" for a change. I guess he decided it was time to stretch his acting skills a little.
Mel spins around and chews up all available scenery as he yells, "You're the bozo, bozo!" Relax, guys, you're both bozos! He claims there's not even a bell in the church, then for some reason adds, "Ask Wyatt!" How would Wyatt know? Then we cut to Blind Kiyomi whining, "I don't like this place!" She'll actually be repeating this line at least a dozen times throughout the movie, which sadly makes her the Asian version of Colleen from Night of Horror.
Bill says Wyatt could be in on the whole "ring my bell" scheme, too, so he decides to check things out for himself. Then we hear Wyatt's voiceover during a shot of the church. "Old, old place." Wyatt really was blessed with a gift for words. Unfortunately, he returned that gift to the store and used the refund to buy a harmonica. He says, "It's so overgrown!" And so is his beard, so he's not one to talk.
We hear Wyatt and Bill arguing in voiceover to more shots of the church. Wyatt's voice insists that there were several bells going off all at once, but Bill cranks his voice up several octaves as he yells, "Geez, you guys got an A-1 act going! But I'm not buying this crap!"
Then we see Wyatt inside the church as he stumbles upon some weeds and spots something. He calls Bill over, and sure enough, it's the steamer trunk that Mel happened upon earlier. Wyatt pulls out the Confederate flag and Bill's overdubbed voice yells that it "looks original!" Like anyone associated with this film even knows the meaning of the word "original".
Then in some neck-breaking jump cuts, we suddenly see Bill standing outside the church and calling the others over. Then we instantly cut to Bill and Sarah inside the church as Sarah admires the steamer trunk. "It's so old," she fawns. "It must be worth a lot!"
Lynn thinks there must have been a battle here, but Bill comments that none of the tombstones mention a battle. Rather, there's just "a list of names, like they're all buried in the same grave." And other than a battle, how would this happen? Come on, Bill, you're almost there. I know you can do it. Bill guesses that there are "50 or 60" men buried in one grave. Well, no wonder the dead will be screaming.
Blind Kiyomi yells once again that "I don't like it here!" as she wraps her arms around her big studmuffin Mel. He tells her to hush up because, "I wanna check this out!" Sarah says he should keep the trunk and repeats that it could be worth a lot of money. But Kiyomi points out that "it belongs to someone, you shouldn't take it!" Of course, she's totally looking in the wrong direction as she talks to Sarah. I know she's supposed to be blind, but anyone who's spent more than ten seconds around an actual blind person would know that there actually are other ways besides sight to tell where someone else is standing.
"If it belongs to anyone," Sarah says, "It belongs to those dead soldiers out there! You think they're going to need the money?" Oh, thanks Sarah, you just jinxed it for everbody. Blind Kiyomi cries, "They died here! It should stay here with them!" She says if they take the stuff, they all be "guilty". Bill is all like "WTF, man?" so Kiyomi explains this is why they heard those bells, because "they don't want us here!" Kiyomi shouts, "You can't take pain from the dead!" Sarah literally turns up her nose and says, "What are you TALKING about?" I mean, first her sister Colleen goes wacko and starts talking to trees, and now she's gotta deal with this head case. Sarah just can't catch a break.
Lynn, however, knows exactly what Kiyomi's getting at. She says, "Our grandmother was in Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped." Oh, brother. Why do I get the hunch that Tony Malanowski thinks all Asians have a grandmother who was in Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped? Lynn describes how she and Kiyomi went to Japan and saw her just before she died. "She had leukemia, from the radiation!"
Lynn says, "I can't translate too well from the Japanese [probably because the actress isn't Japanese], but she told us that the dead have no use for anything they had in life. And that all their possessions, everything, belonged to the living." Er, this would actually seem to support Sarah's argument that they should just take the stuff. Lynn says, "But you can't take their pain away! They're jealous of the pain!" I must be the envy of the whole afterworld, then.
Kiyomi adds to the general incoherence here by adding, "You can take anything from the dead." Because they're too slow to catch you. "But their pain." Cut to Wyatt in totally different lighting as he folds up the Confederate flag, and then very slowly, he puts it back in the trunk. Sarah is aghast, but Wyatt insists "it doesn't belong to us!"
Sarah sarcastically asks, "Then who does it belong to? Buncha dead rebels? It's ours!" Wyatt angrily, or at least in what passes for anger in Wyatt's world, yells again that it doesn't belong to them, and that at the very least it belongs to whoever owns the land. Sarah says, "What are you, some kind of a saint?" [??] The patron saint of shit movies, maybe. Bill tries to quiet her down, but Sarah cries that "Nobody gives a damn about the old flag!" Then why does she want it? This is followed by half a minute of everybody awkwardly staring at each other.
Finally, Sarah begs Bill to take the flag, so Bill tells her to shut up. Bill, did you ever know that you're my hero? Sarah cries out, "Oh, holy shit!" [??] and wanders off. Now it's time for Sarah to reenact Mel's "wandering around in the woods" scene, right down to the second inclusion of that hit single, "The Theme from the Screaming Dead".
She finds herself in the graveyard again, and she pulls out a cigarette and lights it while silently talking to herself and shaking her head. Then we get a randomly inserted shot of a tombstone for "Pvt John Hall". Then it's more of Sarah staring as she leans on a tombstone. Then they insert a shot of a tombstone reading "Pvt Tonny [sic] Starke". Hahaha! Then we see another tombstone for "Pvt. John Carpenter". Hahahah! Oh God, I'm dying. No, seriously, I'm dying. This movie is slowly killing me.
Sarah looks around until, suddenly, the tombstone she's leaning against starts moving. She breaks away and stumbles to the ground, staring hard at the plaster tombstone as it gently sways. We hear overdubbed sounds of yelping and whimpering that don't match her lips as the stone stops moving. She takes off running, and goes back to Bill and the gang and explains what happened.
Everyone just stares at Sarah. For like, a really long time. Suddenly, she realizes that no one believes her. Mel yells, "I don't believe a word OF IT!" Bill tries to reason with her, saying she just "fell off" the headstone. Sarah says it was moving long after she fell off of it, so Bill suggests that she "knocked it down a gopher hole, that's all!" Well, I see we've got a budding empiricist here.
"You moved it," Bill insists, but Kiyomi once again intrudes: "They moved it!" Bill doesn't want to hear one word of this, so Blind Kiyomi whines for the 3,000th time that "I don't like this place!" Bill thinks they should just get out of there, prompting the two Asian girls to walk off. For really no reason I can think of, the scene ends with Bill watching them leave and saying, "Man, she gives me the creeps." [?]
Then we cut to Wyatt with his head in Lynn's lap, playing the harmonica as they sit in front of their tent. Wyatt puts away the harmonica as Lynn strokes his unwashed curly locks. Then we cut to Bill and Susan in front of their tent, where suddenly it's nighttime. The two taunt Mel, wondering why he's still fiddling around with his rifle. "Afraid of the dark, Mel?" Sarah says.
Cut to Mel with Blind Kiyomi at his side near their tent, and Kiyomi utters the truly memorable line, "You can hold me. Instead of the gun. [!!!]" Thanks, but no thanks. The gun doesn't keep whining about not liking this place. "I'm not afraid of the dark," Kiyomi says, stroking his knee. Oh, gross. This prompts Mel to put the gun away and Sarah says it's "about time". Lynn, still the master of butting in and yelling at people for no apparent reason, screams at Sarah to "let 'em work it out themselves, okay?" Work what out? What is she talking about?
Bill suggests they camp here tomorrow and "do a little hunting". Wyatt says he's game, then we actually get to watch for a half a minute as he takes a swig of beer. Ah, that's good beer. He coughs a little and softly repeats to Mel what Bill has in mind. Mel replies, "Sounds good." But Mel realizes that they're pretty far from Excalibur. Okay, the characters in this movie just call it "the camper", but we know the truth, don't we? Mel wonders if they'll be able to "haul a buck back there". Sarah says, "Shouldn't you guys have thought of that earlier?" It's scary when I find myself agreeing with Sarah.
Mel then suddenly grows concerned that there's not that enough room in Excalibur for whatever they kill. If the choice is between hauling a buck back, or hauling Blind Kiyomi back, I know which one I'd choose. Mel points out that if they kill a deer, "you're all going to have to stay at the church, with all your rebel friends!" Weirdly, he lapses into a fake British accent when he says this [?]. I guess he thinks there were some British Confederate soldiers or something. Mel then cracks up laughing at his own stupid joke. At least someone did.
Bill says, "I'll go for it, if I can take Kiyomi home." [!!] Geez, Bill is so sick of Sarah, he's reduced to hitting on other women right in front of their boyfriends. Bill asks, "How about it, Key?" Key? Do they call her that because everybody gets a turn? Mel wraps his arms around Kiyomi and affectionately notes, "She may be blind, but she knows a raw deal when she sees one!" [!!!] Gosh, what a sweetheart!
We then see Lynn squinting, and then bugging her eyes out in what I think was supposed to be her shooting another Dirty Look at Mel. Then we get to see Mel and Kiyomi giving each other the most passion-free kiss since Moment by Moment.
"Go on!" Bill yells. "Kiss her for real! We won't look!" I know I won't. The two kiss again, and somehow it's even less passionate than before. We hear Susan say, "Not bad, for a beginner!" [!!] Ew, make it stop!
Then it's over to Wyatt who thankfully (though not necessarily smoothly) changes the subject. "Uhh, well, three strong men ought to be able to get a buck out of here, don't you think?" Sarah chimes in, "with the help of three strong women, you mean." Sure. Where are they? Bill groans that she's going into "that lib stuff again."
Lynn suddenly explodes. Okay, she doesn't really explode. I'm just trying to make this review more interesting. Lynn says, "Have it your own way! But if Sarah and I killed anything, we'd carry it back ourselves!" However, Sarah quickly insists that she would never kill anything. Besides my appetite. She says, "Not even a..." Then she totally freaks out, jumps to her feet, and flails around because "a bug" was on her hand. And yes, this was meant to be funny.
Bill gets a good hard laugh out of this, then Mel gets an extremely huge, globe-encompassing smile. Sarah just gets pissed as Wyatt and Kiyomi join in on the chorus of laughter. Oh man, you know you're pathetic when someone like Blind Kiyomi is laughing at you.
Wyatt finally quips, "You killed it. You get to carry it home." Okay, I admit that was actually a funny line. Sarah is still pissed, however. "I hate bugs!" Then Lynn shoots a Dirty Look at the ground.
Suddenly, Sarah is pointing up into the sky. We don't see what she's pointing at (another Malanowski trademark) but Bill stands and wonders what it is, too. Lynn comments, "It's pretty!" After her comment about the church, I'm not sure if I really trust her tastes. Mel sits up and says, "That's really weird!" Kiyomi wants to know what's going on, and Mel explains to her (and us) that there are "a bunch of lights out in the trees". Do we actually see these lights? Well, putting lights up into trees would take time and effort, so I think you can safely answer that question on your own.
Bill thinks it's "some other campers", but Wyatt thinks it "doesn't look like a campfire". Lynn remarks, "We've got fireworks, maybe they're got some too!" Because who goes camping without fireworks? Kiyomi utilizes her Superhearing, however, and doesn't hear the sound of fireworks. Mel says it's probably "happening up at that old church! Hey! Maybe somebody's having a party up there!" Bill shrugs and, briefly forgetting that Sarah has him whipped, says, "Let's crash it!"
Wyatt ain't up for it, though. He's off to bed because he doesn't "want to be hunting with a hangover". Sarah turns to Bill, reminding him that he wasn't supposed to drink. And if you play this frame by frame, you can literally see the exact moment when the life gets sucked out of Bill. He immediately changes his carefree tune, takes on the demeanor of an inmate serving life without parole, and says he's off to bed, too. "Let those jerks party if they want!" Yeah! Jerks! Wait, why are they jerks? Hey, don't be bitter that other people are having more fun than you, Bill. Sarah says she's coming to bed too, but not before she remarks again about the "strange fireworks".
Now that we're half an hour into the film, we at long last get a look a look at the titular Screaming Dead. Although they're more like the Growling, Grunting, and Upset Stomach Dead. We cut back to the church graveyard for a long sequence of them climbing up out of graves, and for a comparison, just picture Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video if it were shot on Super 8 and John Landis were a crackbaby. The scene is hopelessly dark and murky, to the point where I can only catch a series of disjointed images, and the best part is that it goes on for five solid minutes.
Hands reach up out of the dirt, and then more hands reach up out of the dirt. We see one rather mangy looking zombie rise from his grave to the sound of echoing groans, and there are little flashbulbs going off in the background that briefly made me think I was really low on sleep. The zombie stands, looking about as nauseous as I feel. More dead guys come crawling up out of the ground, and the next zombie we see has got on white face paint and a yellow scarf, so he must doing his Marcel Marceau impression.
It's now becoming increasingly obvious that there was absolutely no attempt to maintain consistency in the zombie makeup at all. Some guys will have on white face paint, others will put on rubber masks, and still others will have no noticeable makeup on at all. It's like it's a zombie come-as-you-are party.
Cut to some other zombie head lying in the dirt as its very poor "animatronic" eyeballs roll all around. Another White Face Paint guy climbs out of the dirt and slowly lumbers off. More flashes go off, so I guess the zombie paparazzi is already on the scene. We see another zombie, but this one has no face paint at all. And then we see yet another zombie who looks like he ran out of Zombie Face Paint halfway through covering his face.
More whiteface zombies in suspiciously clean Confederate uniforms wander around. Ah, and here come a couple of zombies with a more "dark" type of face paint. Haven't seen that before. Meanwhile, there's more flashes, and by the looks of these guys, I think the whole "zombie" act wasn't really an act, chemically speaking.
Then comes the return of the much beloved "dry ice fog + car headlights" special effect from Night of Horror as Confederate zombies continue to wander around. As you can sort of tell, "continue to wander around" pretty much sums up 90% of the action in this scene. (And in this movie.) Then we see one really stoned zombie, who I think is supposed to be the Zombie Leader, because he points off in one direction and all the zombies follow.
We cut back to the campsite to find Lynn and Wyatt all cozy in their tent. Well, as cozy as two people who obviously had no attraction towards each other and weren't good enough actors* to fake it. Wyatt sarcastically says this trip is "some adventure", so Lynn rolls her eyes and comments that "Sarah's getting on my nerves!" I don't doubt it.
(*liberal use of the term)
Then the topic turns to the budding love between Klepto Mel and Blind Kiyomi. Lynn takes the opportunity to complain once again that her blind sister refuses to do things for herself, and prefers to just pout in attempts to gain pity. Wyatt brings up Mel and says, "Maybe she's met her match!" In terms of acting ability? Wyatt clarifies: "Mel doesn't seem to have much pity!" Okay, I guess "clarifies" was too strong of a word to use there, sorry.
The mention of Mel prompts Lynn to complain about him wandering off into the woods earlier and getting Kiyomi all upset. Wyatt thinks Kiyomi was just upset because of "those bells and... whatever else it was she heard!" Meanwhile, Wyatt and Lynn are saying their lines so fast, and in such a emotionless monotone, that it took me several listens to figure out what this conversation was even about. I think the two actors* were trying to get things over with as quickly as possible, too.
Lynn says this is Kiyomi's "first time in love, she'll learn from it." That is putting it mildly. The two of them then "snuggle" as we cut to Bill and Sarah's tent, and find Sarah just sitting there in her bra. Gah! Stop doing that! Bill is trying to get the tent zipped up, or something, and cuts himself on a zipper, or something, and Sarah suddenly tells him to forget about it. She says they don't need to worry about "sleeping doubles" tonight, because she doesn't really feel like it, anyway. Bill exclaims, well, kind of mumbles, "But we haven't done it all week."
Sarah puts her hands on her hips in order to get into the proper position to deliver more of that sassy lib stuff. "I am tired of you grabbing at me every time I take my clothes off!" No, my dear, that's my eyes I'm grabbing at. Not you. "I am a person, too, you know!" Bill starts to groan that she's on "that kick" again, but Sarah doesn't let up, yelling that Bill treated her "like a child back in that graveyard!" Hey, maybe all your crying and whimpering might have had something to do with it, too.
She insists that the tombstone did in fact move under her. Bill smarmily delivers the immortal line, "If I can just get this zipper to work, I'll make the earth move under you again!" Sarah complains that sex is "all you think about" but eventually helps him get the zipper open anyway. The zipper on the sleeping bag, not his pants, you pervs. She asserts, however, that she just wants to sleep. Bill cheekily tells her, "Better check for bugs first!" Sarah shouts, "I hate bugs!" and the scene ends. All of a sudden, that "Mel steals stuff" running gag is starting to seem a lot funnier.
Then it's over to Blind Kiyomi and Mel in their tent, and Mel's got a flashlight out to read that leather-bound book he stole from the church. Kiyomi asks Mel if he's cleaning his gun, but he annoyedly says, "Are you awake again?" He tells her to go back to sleep, but she says, "I can't sleep with the lights on!" [?] He wants to know how she knew the lights were on. "I didn't," she says. "But I do now!" Actually, there are some blind people who aren't completely blind, and can still distinguish light from dark, but then again, I think I'd prefer Malanowski just concentrate on keeping the camera in focus instead of worrying about realism.
Mel admits he's reading a book, and Kiyomi whines, "Read to me!" She insists she loves books because "I read Braille, you know!" Suddenly he's "tired" and wants to go to bed, but Kiyomi complains that he's "treating me like a stranger! [?] I just want you to be close to me! Even Sarah reads to me... And I don't even like her!" Let's see, Lynn hates Sarah, Kiyomi hates Sarah, and Sarah is totally harshing Bill's mellow. Tell me, why is Sarah on this trip again?
Mel agrees to read to her, but makes her promise not to tell anyone. He begins reading from the book, and thankfully, it's not an Edgar Allen Poe poem like in Night of Horror. It turns out to be the diary of a captain in the Confederate Army. The captain wrote about how, even though the war ended, his men still had to fight. "If only they could lay down their arms!" Mel reads. The Confederate captain says the Union soldiers continue to fight and he promises, "If I could wring Lincoln's neck with my bare hands, I could die a happy man!" Just replace "Lincoln" with the name of a certain director and I'm completely onboard with this.
The captain writes, "A bloodlust is upon us!" because apparently the Union soldiers have acquired an "inhuman craving for punishment". He says that "Torture... Torture is not a weapon in a gentleman's armory!" After ten minutes of reading, Kiyomi finally realizes that Mel stole this book from the church, and totally freaks out, Colleen-style. She screams that "it's evil!" and wants to know why Mel took it. "I don't know," he says. "I... just wanted it!"
Kiyomi screams, "Just like the motorcycle! Just like the ring!" Mel says he already apologized for those things (So, I guess the ring was stolen after all), but insists that the book "belongs to a dead man, it won't be missed!" Wow! Foreshadowing! She continues yelling at him for a while, and then reminds him about those bells and "other sounds" she heard that the rest of them didn't.
Then Kiyomi launches into a hellaciously boring, utterly worthless story about "a collie pup" she had when she was a kid. One morning, "I felt that something was wrong with my puppy!" She checked on it, but it was alright [?], "but I still felt so scared!" In fact, she was so scared that she kept the puppy with her at all times, until one night her parents "made me tie her up in the yard! She slipped her collar and dug under the fence! I heard car brakes! And no one else did! They thought I was being hysterical! But when they went outside, my puppy was dead in the street!" Hey, remember that dog that William Shatner ran over in Impulse? I guess now we know who it belonged to. Anyway, she says she was a "hundred times more scared today when I heard those 'other sounds'!" If anyone out there understands the point of this whole "collie pup" story, please feel free to write in, because I'm clueless.
Mel says, "I don't know about all of that!" and reminds her it's just a book. She cries out, "Hold me, Mel! Please? Please? Just hold me once!" Once? I guess any more than that, and she'd be physically ill. Mel says, "If I hold you, will you promise not to tell the others?" I was all set to mock this poorly phrased line of dialogue, and then I realized it was intentional and a setup for a joke. Kiyomi immediately asks, "That you hold me?" But he clarifies he's really talking about the book. Believe me, the way I described it is a lot funnier than it plays out in the movie.
"Just promise," Mel says, "And I'll hold you all night if you want!" The promise of all this Mel-holding overwhelms Kiyomi and she goes along with the cover-up. Thus begins the undoing of our heroes, the Unwashed Masses. Kiyomi and Mel hold each other and suddenly he asks her just what those "other sounds" were that everyone's been vaguely referring to. Kiyomi doesn't want to tell him, and insists everything's fine as they go back to holding each other.
Then we cut to Lynn in her sleeping bag suddenly waking up. There's a shot of leather boots trampling through the grass, and then we cut back to Lynn poking her head out of the tent. She thinks it's Kiyomi stomping around outside, but when Kiyomi doesn't answer, Lynn goes back inside the tent. No, wait, that would be the smart thing to do. Actually, she decides to climb out of the tent and investigate.
She sees one of the white faced zombies and screams like a banshee. And the really pathetic part is that her scream ends and is clearly dubbed in again in an attempt to make it sound twice as long. Someone yells, "Lynn, get down!" and she quickly complies. The white faced zombie comes towards Wyatt and the two have a rather non-energetic scuffle. I think both these guys forgot to have their morning cup of coffee.
Mel comes up and hits the zombie in the back with his rifle, which causes the zombie to turn around and begin sparring with Mel instead. Then Wyatt takes out his rifle and spars with another zombie. Meanwhile, we get a very useful shot of Sarah putting her shirt back on as she and Bill climb out of their tent.
There's an overhead closeup of a subdued zombie extending his hands directly into the camera. Uh, whatever. This wouldn't even be scary in a 3-D movie. Wyatt and Mel stand over him, training their rifles on him. Wyatt yells, "I can't believe it!" and Mel wonders why the guy "won't die" [?]. Huh? Why would he? All you did was hit him in the back. Then Mel decides to just shoot the zombie [!], and he stops moving. Okay, we know this guy is a zombie. We saw the video box cover. But for all Mel and Wyatt know, they just cold-bloodedly murdered some guy whose only crime was putting on bad face paint.
Wyatt calls for a flashlight to get a better look, and then asks if "Key" is "okay". Kiyomi replies that she's "just scared", and just like the kid in Superman III, she's too scared to even move her lips as she says this. (However, she is behind a 747's engine.) Bill comes over with a flashlight and Wyatt yells that the guy's "been dead a long time!" More White Face Guys suddenly appear, and they're giving off these very whiny groans like your retarded cousin.
Wyatt tells all the guys to "spread out!" and Mel breaks out some Klepto-Fu on a couple of the zombies. For a guy who was supposedly in the Marines, I'm quite unimpressed. Wyatt starts shooting in random directions and cries out, "Bill, aim for the head!" Because he saw Night of the Living Dead, of course. Bill does so, and amusingly, the zombie he's shooting at suddenly turns into a stationary mannequin, and what's even more hilarious, his head instantly explodes [!!]. Oh, man, I thought you had to see a lot of Coleman Francis films before this ever happened.
Mel is still working the Klepto-Fu angle. Bill yells, "The fireworks!" and Wyatt goes to get them. Meanwhile, we cut to the woman all just standing around and cowering. So much for "all that lib stuff", I guess. Wyatt shoots at another mannequin with a head full of gunpowder, then dives into a tent. He retrieves a paper bag but gets into another brief scrap with a zombie. Steve Sandkuhler, an action hero for the 80's!
Wyatt tosses the bag on the campfire and quickly runs away. I guess this bag is full of fireworks, because it instantly explodes, which is followed by a shot of, and I swear I'm not making this up, a stationary mannequin head burning while a Fourth of July type fireworks display [!!!!] is superimposed over it. Mr. Malanowski, you've outdone yourself.
We see one zombie totally spacing out while looking at the superimposed fireworks. Then, it's back to the flaming head accompanied by "screaming" sound effects. This has got to be one of the most pathetic special effects I've seen since, well, since five minutes ago. The mannequin barely moves as it burns, and it's almost like somebody set fire to the Balok puppet head from the Star Trek episode "The Corbomite Maneuver".
There's more explosions on the campfire, more superimposed fireworks, and more zombie heads burning. Wyatt yells, "Let's get the hell out of here!" as they all take off running. Cut to the Zombie Leader watching a Rubber Face Zombie rummage through a backpack and pull out all the clothes. Presumably, he's looking for the diary. It's not to be found, however, so the Zombie Leader looks pained.
We abruptly cut to daytime and see the Unwashed Masses standing in some weeds. Sarah looks particularly haggard, I mean, haggard-er, as she complains about how they've been walking all night and that she just wants to go home. She says, "Where is the camper?" Cut to Mel screaming that he doesn't know. Bill reminds Mel that he was the one who suggested this new trail, and asks him again where the camper is. So Mel just silently shrugs [?]. Hey, so we're lost in the woods with a bunch of zombies after us, I mean, what are ya gonna do?
Bill starts yelling at Mel, calling him "a liar and a thief, and you're not even any good at that!" The scariest part of this movie is that I almost believe it could be the original inspiration for The Blair Witch Project. Mel and Bill almost come to blows before Wyatt pulls them apart. He says that they've "been wandering all night!" And nobody, not even Eagle Eye Mel could know where they are right now. He says they've "got to find a road!" This leads to another round of everyone just silently staring at each other.
Blind Kiyomi takes this opportunity to again whine that she's scared. And once again, no one pays attention. Bill wonders why the zombies didn't attack "that party at the church". Hmm, was it because they found out the champagne wasn't Korbel?
Kiyomi actually has to point out that "that was the party from the church!" She says they were "the soldiers! The men from the graveyard!" This causes Sarah to start sobbing uncontrollably. You made her cry, Kiyomi. Good work, and keep it up. Bill thinks they were just "backwoods kids! With makeup and some costumes!" But Wyatt says, "They walk right though bullets!" They walk through the bullets? Is the dialogue poorly worded, or is this movie slowly causing me to lose comprehension of the English language?
Bill matter of factly repeats a common line in this movie: "I can't believe it!" Wyatt says, "Don't then! I don't care!" Hey, me neither! Let's start a club! Then Mel starts babbling about how they should get moving because the zombies will have "scouts" [??]. Talent scouts? If so, you guys have nothing to worry about. Wyatt agrees and says, "they'll be fighting like soldiers [!!], waiting for us to be off guard!" How would they know that the zombies will be fighting like soldiers? I mean, it's a sensible deduction, but since when has anyone in this movie seemed capable of making one of those?
We then get a close-up of Sarah moaning, "I want a gun too!" And then Mel sharply cries, "NO!" And on that note, we end the scene. Well, at least in the midst of all this "tension", Malanowski can keep the "laughs" coming.
Then we see Wyatt wandering around the woods all alone, and judging by the amount of leaves on the trees, this shot was filmed a couple of months later. All of a sudden, a white face zombie jumps out from behind some trees and tackles Wyatt to the ground. Wyatt helpfully sets his rifle down so the two can tussle and roll around in the grass. We get a shot of Mel aiming his rifle and trying to get a bead on the zombie, but he can't because, well, he's in a different movie. After a while, we cut to a big zombie with a papier-mâché head popping up behind Lynn and Kiyomi, prompting them to scream and go off running.
Meanwhile, Mel shoots, killing the Mime that Wyatt was fighting. Well, technically speaking, he killed him again. Then Wyatt gets up and shoots another zombie. Meanwhile, Bill backs into one, and the two fight over his rifle until Bill knocks the zombie to the ground and shoots him. Having defeated this zombie contigent, all three men regroup back in the wintertime shots and Wyatt says "the bright light doesn't bother 'em anymore!" Uh, did it ever? Mel thinks these were the "scouts" he theorized about earlier, so Wyatt suggests changing direction "to throw 'em off."
Then for no particular reason, Mel goes ballistic. He grabs Bill by the arm and drags him towards a zombie and cries out, "You lousy bastard! Does that look human?" Amazingly, Bill doesn't counter by calling him a goofy bozo. Wyatt comes over, grabs Mel by the collar, and yells, "Cut the shit before I kill you myself!" Oh, and by the way, I don't think this sequence could get much more out of focus than it already is.
Then we see Bill and Sarah just strolling along through the woods. Wait, how did Bill get over there all of a sudden? Okay, let's consider what we just saw. Mel attacked Bill in a scene which A) had very little motivation, B) made no sense, C) will never be referred to again, D) breaks continuity with the scene immediately following, and E) wasn't even in focus. It appears Malanowski didn't realize that just because you film something doesn't mean you have to put it in the movie.
Anyway, Sarah complains yet again about being tired, and says she can't go any farther. Wyatt hears this and tells Mel that they'll camp out here for the night [!]. Mel points out this is not such a great idea, what with those killer zombies after them and everything. He even claims to have been hearing someone following them.
Lynn keenly notes that they haven't really lost the zombies, and asks Mel and Wyatt what they should do, randomly noting that "Kiyomi hasn't said a word all day!" I'd be grateful if I were her. In response, Wyatt says they'll move more slowly at night, which should make it not so hard for Kiyomi to keep up. Or something.
Lynn goes over to Kiyomi, who's crouched in a ball on the ground and looking shell-shocked. Kiyomi doesn't respond, so Lynn goes to Mel and asks him to talk to her. He just totally blows her off, saying he's going to go back and check and see if they're really being followed.
Lynn then puts on what I'm guessing is her patented Dirty Look. She marches up to Mel and the two have it out, and by "having it out" I mean I got bored and fell asleep. Lynn tells Mel that Kiyomi really needs him now, so Mel replies, "You're her sister, you help her!" Mel, have you been paying attention at all? Lynn doesn't do that "help" thing when it comes to Kiyomi.
Lynn suddenly asks Mel if he's had sex with Kiyomi. Ugh, bad mental image! She accuses him of just "using her", but Mel says, "She don't have to hang out with me!" But how can a girl refuse a guy with a handlebar moustache? He says, "I don't twist her arm!" Lynn replies, "You're twisting her heart!" And this dialogue is twisting my stomach.
Mel says he has Lynn all figured out. "You're stuck with that runt Wyatt, and you're jealous!" Um, if anything, Mel is even skinnier than Wyatt, as hard as that is to believe. This fascinating discussion comes to an sudden end when Mel hears something and whirls around with his rifle.
We abruptly cut to a shot of two cops who look like they walked off the set of a totally different movie. One of them is holding a rifle, and he tells Mel to put down his gun and raise his hands in the air. Of course, the "cops" are wearing ridiculously old fashioned hats like the kind you haven't seen since the days of the original Dragnet. (Well, at least they're not wearing cowboy hats.)
The first cop turns to the second cop and says, "Franklin?" and Franklin goes over and frisks Mel. Then we cut back to a close-up on the first cop, and he's wearing an ancient uniform with a patch that says "Monticello Police". Also, he's being played by Richard Ruxton, who was also the crazy redneck dad in Galaxy Invader. Boy, you know you're bad off when getting a guy from a Don Dohler film is considered a "score".
He says, "Okay, son, you've got a lot of explaining to do. Provided I feel like listening. And to tell you the truth, I ain't all ears at the moment!" Franklin drunkenly yells, "He's clean, Hal!". By which he means that Mel doesn't have weapons, because he's certainly not clean.
Officer Hal asks Mel to tell him what happened, but Mel cries out, "Oh, shit! They're not gonna believe this!" Lynn speaks instead, explaining that they were attacked last night by some men, but after they escaped from them, they got lost in the woods. Hal wants to know how many men attacked them, and Mel says, "Thirty! Maybe forty!" Hee hee, yeah right. Sorry, but when you cut to the same zombie from a different angle, that doesn't count as a totally different zombie.
Mel says they've been followed all morning, and then volunteers the fact that he and his friends "killed three of their scouts!" Hmm, I think Mel is the reason they put the "right to remain silent" part in the Miranda warning. A very underwhelmed Franklin says, "Killed?" Yeah, like in permanent dead, y'know? Lynn explains that "they weren't even alive! Their faces were all... rotten!" Oh, you're one to talk. Officer Hal says he can see they've had "a bad scare", but insists he's still gotta take them in.
Lynn asks, "Don't you believe us at all?" Hal admits that "it does seem to tie in." He makes some rather incoherent statements about the governor having a "pet project" up on the hill, namely, the church and graveyard. Then he explains that the graveyard was robbed last night, because all the bodies are missing. We cut to Officer Franklin looking nauseous and drunkenly yelling, "Sicko!" Hal agrees, "Real twisted sicko!" But did anyone twist his heart?
Lynn continues to plead with them, saying that the corpses are who attacked them. "They were like, walking dead men!" Hal is somewhat skeptical, but soon Wyatt runs up, pretending like he doesn't even see the cops until he's been standing there for ten minutes. Wyatt quickly becomes relieved to see them, and Hal calmly asks how many of them there are in the Unwashed Masses. Wyatt explains that there's six of them altogether. Lynn says, "My sister's blind and she's pretty scared! I wish you'd help us get out of here!" Oh sure, now here comes the Blind Sister Card. You just play that whenever it's convenient for you, Lynn.
Hal agrees, but first sends Franklin down the trail to see if they really are being followed. Franklin, or as I will now call him, Officer Dead Meat, quickly agrees to this. Hal theorizes that the "attack" Lynn described was actually the person who stole the corpses deciding to "swing the bodies out of trees on ropes, like puppets!" He then tells Franklin, "Even gives me the creeps! Gotta have the wife quit playing with that ouija board [!!]." Look, dude, whatever you and your wife do in the privacy of your own home is your own business.
He warns Officer Dead Meat against allowing himself to get "spooked", then Officer Hal explains how he's going to help the kids out of the woods and then "call for another car to come and get the blind girl!" [!!] Don't want her Blind Cooties in my car.
Officer Dead Meat says, "Okay, Chief!" and walks off. Hal tells the "kids" that they've been hiking pretty close to a road all this time without even realizing it. Wyatt yells, "Thank God! It's over at last!" Referring, of course, to his acting career. Lynn totally steps on Wyatt's line to ask if Officer Dead Meat is really going to go off by himself. Well, otherwise I wouldn't be calling him Officer Dead Meat, now would I?
Hal replies, "He's a big boy!" Which means there'll be plenty to go around when he eventually gets eaten by zombies. Hal insists that "no lunatic with a hank of rope and a sense of humor is going to scare him!" This prompts Lynn to incredulously ask, "A hank of rope?" Ah, just like The Man! So unhip! So uptight! Hal calls this all "Spooky business!" Then he totally flubs his line as he says, "I'm sure glad I never up— took up undertaking, like my daddy wanted!" Instead, he decided to act as stiff as a corpse.
Then we get another glimpse of Malanowski's new toy, the "out of focus fade-in", this time to police lights. Wyatt is standing by Officer Hal's police cruiser, asking him if he saw the scene at their camp, because the corpses will prove they were attacked. Hal replies, "I'd say you were attacked! Not by walking corpses though!" Mel, standing, um, somewhere, loudly yells, "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN? WE LEFT A HALF A DOZEN OF THEM LAYIN' BACK THERE!" Mel says they killed a lot of them, but Officer Hal says they found no bodies there, just bullets in trees.
Unfortunately for Mel, this means Officer Hal knows that one of them is using exploding bullets. At this line, Mel gets the guiltiest look possible on his face. I'm surprised he didn't yell that the officer "don't know nothing" and that the bullets "are just cool". Hal sees Mel's non-response and says, "Yeah, okay! That's another charge you'll face!" Then we cut to Officer Dead Meat wandering through the woods at "dusk". He's looking around warily, so I think he refused to heed Hal's advice about getting "spooked". Then we get a brief glimpse of some zombies standing... well, somewhere.
Then it's back to Officer Hal, and he's now on the radio asking for another car to be sent up because Kiyomi is blind, which still makes no sense. He says they're up on "Agony Ridge". Whoo hooo! My website got a shout-out! For absolutely no reason, the guy on the radio asks, "You know why they call it that?" [!!] but Hal just gets annoyed and ignores the question.
Hal mentions to the guy on the radio that he's also holding a "trigger-happy city kid", ie. Mel. Then Hal begins having a one-sided conversation because Malanowski suddenly stops dubbing in the voice of the other guy. He says the Governor is fine, and I'm still not getting what the Governor has to do with any of this. But, according to Hal, "His kinfolk got up and took a little walk, is all!" They must have been in a theater showing this movie.
Then it's back to Officer Dead Meat as an assortment of zombies with all different types of makeup close in on him. He eventually gets jumped by Papier-Mâché Head, who starts gnawing on his shoulder [!] and Officer Dead Meat hilariously starts making noise like a kid wetting the bed. He gets away from Papier-Mâché Head and runs off.
Then we cut to the Unwashed Masses discussing how much trouble Mel is in, and Lynn asks the rest of the gang what Officer Hal thinks is really going on. Of course, they say all of this while standing right next to Hal's car [!]. Psssst, I think he can hear you! Officer Hal answers her question directly: "A joke, sugar! A weird, sick joke!" Mel yells out, "Yeah, a joke! Real funny, ha ha, asshole!" Well, let's see you come up with something funnier, Mel. The last time you tried being funny, you were doing a stupid British accent, which didn't exactly kill.
In response, Officer Hal calmly talks about all the nutcases he's seen in his day, and calls the person responsible for the attack "your garden variety psychopath", even though he has "more of a sense of humor than most".
Then we cut to two zombies attacking Officer Dead Meat, and hilariously it looks like his grandkids are jumping on him and tugging on him in an attempt to shake him down for cash. The two Mimes drag ODM over to a tree and start doing the universal zombie "clawing" sign right into the camera. ODM breaks away in a bit of footage that was obviously sped up, and the Mimes give chase.
Then it's back to the kids hanging out around the police car. Officer Hal is expounding on the Lone Nutcase Theory, going into time-killing detail about how a person can pull off this type of prank with his hank of rope and stolen dead bodies. He says the guy will usually drop the bodies from trees and "sorta... dance them around!" Wyatt shouts the memorable line, "They're not dancing, they're trying to kill us!" Hey, it's possible to do both if you have enough style. Wyatt then says "Look!" and attempts to show Hal his forearm, or something.
Then we cut back to ODM still whimpering as he runs through the woods. Eventually, he trips on nothing and the two Mimes dogpile him. I guess this is all happening near Officer Hal and the kids, because Hal gets out of his car and aims his pistol. He fires at the Mimes, but they continue to maul ODM. Wyatt yells at him to shoot for their heads, then runs directly in front [!] of Officer Hal while he still has his gun aimed at the zombies. Wait, is he Blind Wyatt now?
The two run to the trunk of the patrol car and Wyatt pulls out his rifle, and of course Officer Hal just calmly stands there watching him. Then we cut to the Mimes starting to chow down on Officer Sissy Boy, and meanwhile more Mimes start coming out of the woodwork. Over by the police car, Wyatt and Officer Hal fire in unison, again causing that exploding mannequin head effect that is simply astonishing in its awfulness. Meanwhile, Bill and Mel run to the back of the police car to get their rifles, too.
After more shooting, more idiotic exploding heads, more inconsistent makeup (including a zombie that looks a lot like Hitler), we cut to the girls just standing in one place and cowering. Wyatt gets into some hand to hand combat with a Mime while Mel shoots at another, causing another head to explode. Hitler Zombie walks towards the camera, and then we see Papier-Mâché Head again coming up behind the women, which again causes them all to scream and run off. Maybe the zombies should put someone else on "sneaking up on girls" duty, because Papier-Mâché Head doesn't seem to quite have a handle on being "stealthy".
Finally, a zombie with chemotherapy hair comes up to Officer Hal and starts smearing stage blood all over his face. Soon, another Chemo Hair Zombie comes over to help. After a pointless shot of Wyatt, we cut back to Officer Hal lying on the ground, face bloody, as he gets assaulted by zombies. Meanwhile, Bill is getting into hand to hand combat with three zombies, who eventually pull him down. We get a shot of Sarah looking distraught and otherwise just being her same useless self.
There's more of Officer Hal getting mauled, and Wyatt has a dubbed-in line where he says, "Mel, don't shoot near the car!" This is followed Mel firing, and then there's an image of an explosion superimposed over Officer Hal [!]. Damn, that was cheesy! But... oh my God, they didn't. We actually cut to a toy model of a car on fire [!!!]. Hahahahaha!
Wyatt commands everyone to head back into the woods. Mel cries, "There's too many of 'em!" and Wyatt grabs a whimpering Sarah and they all go running off. Then, some truly disgusting chomping and slurping noises are dubbed in as we cut to several Mimes pulling ODM's "internal organs" (actually, random animal entrails) out of his shirt and pretending to feast on them.
Then we see them feasting on Bill [?]. Huh? When did Bill die? Not that I'm complaining. They're pulling out Bill's intestines to more slurping and chomping noises. The "action" music eventually dies away, leaving only extremely repulsive, orgasm-like grunts as the zombies chow down at the All the Bill You Can Eat buffet. Another Mime leans on a tree and chews on something that's probably supposed to be an organ, but could be a giant tomato for all I know.
To be completely frank, this is all rather revolting. It's not so much the fact that they're chewing on "organs" that's making me squicky, as much as it is these eating noises on the soundtrack. And nothing we've seen so far in this movie even came close to preparing us for this abrupt foray into the world of gore. So not only is this just plain repulsive, it's also completely unrelated to the rest of the movie. Anyway, ODM is still getting eaten, and as if things weren't bad enough already, we cut to an extreme slow-mo [!] close-up of that zombie eating his giant tomato, accompanied by more sickening chewing noises. Then we see Zombie Hitler chowing down on ODM's liver.
After more eating, and more organs coming out of ODM, another Mime just strolls on up to ODM, pulls some entrails out of his shirt, then goes wandering off. Yeah, I hate to eat you and run, but...
After several minutes, the "chowing down" segment finally ends, and we cut to Lynn and Kiyomi standing in the woods somewhere. Nearby, Wyatt and Mel are having some useless argument about splitting up, since that's what people in these kinds of movies always seem to do. They start yelling at each other about who's going to take the women, until Wyatt finally shouts that "We can't waste time arguing!" Thus making me wonder what the whole point of this movie was. Wyatt decides to take Lynn and Kiyomi with him, and Mel gets stuck with Sarah.
Wyatt tells Lynn to grab Blind Kiyomi and come along with him, but Kiyomi throws a fit. "I'll go with Mel," she says. "I want Mel!" Of course, Mel gets grumpy about this, until we cut to a close-up of Kiyomi pathetically whining, "Mel, please! I only feel safe with you!" After ten minutes of everybody just staring at each other, all this whining eventually melts Mel's heart and he agrees. But he tells her not to "make any noise!" Sarah leads Kiyomi away and everyone wanders off.
Then it's back to what everyone wanted: More zombie eating scenes! We get more graphic chewing noises as Mimes dig even more entrails out from under ODM's shirt. Then there's more groaning and feasting on Bill. Geez, how much stuff could these guys possibly have in them? The leader of the zombies, presumably the Confederate soldier whose diary Mel stole, comes over and screams. I guess this was to justify the movie's title. Well, I feel your pain, Mr. Zombie Leader.
He gives a "claw" to Chemo Patient Zombie, who stops eating an organ and comes over. Then Zombie Leader gives a "claw" to Zombie Hitler, who also answers the call. Soon, we see all of the zombies put down their entrails and come over to the tune of "The Theme from the Screaming Dead", only now it's being played like a military march. Zombie Leader waves everyone forward and they all slowly stumble off.
Back to Mel, Kiyomi, and Sarah. Mel tells the women to stay back because he's got to "clear a path!" He steps forward and takes out two random zombies with his rifle. Strangely, their heads do not explode [?], and they simply fall to the ground. I guess that effect was getting so old, even Malanowski was getting sick of it.
Papier-Mâché Head Zombie is again behind the women, and again checking them all out. This time, however, they don't sense his hulking form coming up on them, and he actually grabs Blind Kiyomi and starts strangling her. Yes! Papier-Mâché Head Zombie, you're my kind of zombie! And what does Sarah do upon seeing this? She just takes off running, of course.
Kiyomi struggles with the zombie and Mel hears her screams. Meanwhile, Sarah runs right into the arms of another rubber mask zombie, but she uses her fingernails to smear guacamole down his cheek, oh, wait, I guess she just "clawed his eye out". They continue to struggle as Mel comes along and shoots at the zombie, even though Sarah and the zombie are just inches apart. Yeah, I wouldn't be too concerned if I accidentally shot Sarah, either. Anyway, Mel is suddenly an expert marksman, because the zombie flies up into the air and falls to the ground, and Sarah runs off.
Then it's back to Blind Kiyomi in mortal peril. Mel shoots the zombie that's on top of her, and the zombie goes flying off and dies. Another zombie attacks Mel, leading to more Klepto-Fu until Mel knocks the zombie down on the ground. The zombie then politely sits and waits for Mel to get his gun before attempting to get up. Mel knocks the zombie senseless with the butt of his rifle, and I guess that took care of that zombie.
Mel and Sarah go over to Kiyomi's lifeless form. Or, rather, lifeless-er. Mel says they can't keep going on this way, so he picks up Kiyomi and the two run off to go find Wyatt and Lynn. So I guess the promising "splitting up" scheme didn't work out, after all. Of course, when Mel picks her up, the "unconscious" Kiyomi clearly throws her arm over his shoulder.
We then see Chemo Hair Zombie return to his feet and wander off. There's a glimpse of a zombie with a half-melted face, and we cut to Mel carrying Kiyomi and he cries, "They were waiting for us! Bastards!" Yeah, those zombies don't fight fair! Goofy bozos! Sarah hands him his rifle, Mel shoots, and the half-melted zombie head explodes. Mel says, "Hope that's the last one!" Then he looks up in the trees, and we cut to his supposed POV of some branches, and suddenly, it's daylight again.
A figure pops up into the frame and Sarah screams, "No, don't!" but Mel fires anyway. It turns out to be Wyatt [!] and he takes a bullet and falls to the ground. Wow! All of a sudden, this movie's getting good!
The two run over to Wyatt, who's holding the wound and sort of annoyed, you know, because of all that shattered bone and ligament. Wyatt then casually asks after Kiyomi, nonchalantly glancing at his palm full of blood. Mel explains she was "mauled pretty bad", and Wyatt says he found a "house up the road. The owners are all dead."
He then explains that "the ghouls are all over the place", which is why he was hiding in a bush. The three of them start to make their way to the house, and Sarah moans, "Oh, Wyatt!" Mel screams, "Shut up and help him walk!" Considering he just accidentally shot his friend, you'd think he could tone the attitude down a little.
The "action" music starts up again as we get to watch every last second of Mel picking Kiyomi back up. They all continue on their way and finally get to the house, and it turns out to be a huge, pristine home. Wyatt says Lynn is already inside, so Mel yells, "I'll get Kiyomi inside! And wait for my signal!" To do what?
It's now broad daylight as Mel rushes up the front steps of the house carrying Kiyomi. Then we instantly cut to Mel standing, um, somewhere, and yelling, "WYATT! SARAH! COME ON!" Back in the nighttime, Wyatt and Sarah make their way out of the trees, but we see a Chemo Patient Zombie is standing behind a tree and watching them.
The Unwashed Masses all enter the house and Mel lies Kiyomi down on a couch. Lynn appears, calling out, "Key?" but then she sees that Wyatt's been shot. A very bored Wyatt starts to explain what happened, but suddenly they all hear a noise and look up.
We cut to a close-up of the Zombie Leader looking down. He's on the roof, I think, or maybe not. He growls, I think, but it sounds more like a kitten purring. Then we cut to zombies just strolling around with random shots of the house edited in. I'd bet good money that Malanowski never even got permission to film this house. Anyway, we see Mel standing, um, somewhere. He turns around and cries, "Look!"
Then we cut to Wyatt with a pretty big smile on his face as he aims his rifle. He actually appears to be stifling a chuckle here [!]. Boy, he must really be tickled pink about having been shot in the shoulder.
Wyatt lowers the rifle and cries out, "I just don't understand!" Me neither. It looks like what happened is Steve Sandkuhler messed up, thinking he was supposed to raise his rifle, but then remembered he had some lines to deliver. Unfortunately, he accidentally laughed on camera before he said them. (And anyone who saw Night of Horror is familiar with Steve Sandkuhler's tendency to do this.) Some might ask why that screw-up wasn't just edited out. My response is that if you edit out one screw-up, you'd have to edit them all out, in which case we'd have been left with a thirty-second movie. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Anyway, Steve remembers to yell out his next line: "It's like a vendetta or something! Why are they after us?" Mel tells him to "Just SHOOT!" Comically, this is instantly followed by a reused clip of a zombie head exploding.
Then there's more zombies strolling around and growling, and now it just sounds like somebody's muffler is bad. The Zombie Leader waves his men forward, and they all stagger towards the house. We cut to the ever-curious Wyatt, still asking, "Why us?" This causes Mel to put on his guilty face again. Man, I'd love to play poker with this guy. As expected, Wyatt instantly intuits that Mel's got something to confess.
Then we cut to Kiyomi and Lynn downstairs and a barely alive Kiyomi finally spills the beans about the diary. She explains the captain kept a record of how all his soldiers were tortured, and Mel stole it. And stealing is wrong. And if someone touches you in a place you don't like, go tell an adult. This Afterschool Special feel is reinforced by some oddly cheerful flutes playing in the background. Anyway, upon hearing about the diary, Lynn tells Sarah to keep an eye on Kiyomi while she goes upstairs in a huff.
When she gets there, Wyatt is already way ahead of her. He says, "I know. Listen to this!" And we see that he's reading from the diary. It's more stories from the captain explaining the torture at the hands of the Union soldiers, describing how one of his men was "flayed alive" and died screaming "inarticulate curses at his torturers." Who were named Tony Malanowski, and sometimes Tony Stark(e). Then it's back to random overdubbed zombie groans and growls as the soldiers continue their ten-hour stroll over to the house.
Mel tells Wyatt that the zombies are getting closer, which for some reason prompts Wyatt to calmly hand the diary over to Lynn. And by the way, that slightly darker area on his jacket is supposed to be the gunshot wound in his shoulder. Just so you know. After a shot of the Zombie Captain and all his men strolling around to overdubbed screams, we cut to Lynn, and now she's reading aloud from the diary [!]. Um, can we maybe save story time for later?
She goes on for a long, long time, reading about how the captain kept with him "a Barbados slave, who is well versed in the Heathen voodoo of the Caribbean." The actress seems to be having a lot of trouble reading from the book, which I don't think was an act. In the book, the captain explains that he learned from his slave how to cast a voodoo curse. He begs for God's mercy for having turned to the black arts, but says he would be willing to endure Hell for the chance to see "revenge taken on our tormentors." Buck up, Captain. If I can endure this movie, so can you. He wrote that if this "holy place has been defiled", i.e., the graveyard, that means that the "blood of our dead has made it holy once more", blah blah blah.
Then we cut to another close-up of Lynn going on and on, and for a girl who's been running from zombies all night, she sure is wearing a lot of blush. She's reading something about Jesus dying on the cross, and that "this agony is all we have left". The captain promises death to any man "who seeks to take it from us, even though we be in our graves!" I guess this explains all that "you can't take pain from the dead" nonsense Kiyomi was spouting earlier. Only, it doesn't.
Mel simply says, "We're in for it now!" Then Wyatt says, "God! What have we been doing?" You don't want to know, Wyatt. This is followed by a very surreal insert shot of a zombie head exploding, and then we cut right back to that same close-up of Wyatt talking. What the hell? Who shot that zombie, Blind Kiyomi? Wyatt calmly says, "Mel, stop it." Then we cut to Mel (who obviously didn't just fire his gun) crying out, "We can't back down!"
Wyatt says they're the ones who have been in the wrong the whole time, and Mel sarcastically asks if they can "just apologize". Lynn says that they can give the diary back. Just then, they hear Kiyomi screaming. We get a sequence of shots where all three of them turn to look, letting their long mullets flow one at a time. They run to the top of stairs, and look down to find zombies feasting on Kiyomi. Yes! I mean, uh, too bad about Kiyomi. I'll miss everything about her. But mostly, I'll miss the uselessness.
Also, we find another zombie feasting on Sarah's corpse on the floor. Oh, man, this has suddenly become the best movie ever made. After half a minute of this, Mel screams and shoots the two zombies, with a "gunshot" sound effect that's dubbed in rather, uh, shall we say, poorly. Wyatt stares at Mel as he runs off, then turns and calls for Lynn to give him the diary.
Mel walks out on the porch and gets instantly jumped by several zombies. He valiantly attempts to fight them off, but he turns out to be no match for "the claw". He just stands there, shaking his head [?] until one zombie gets to him and promptly starts strangling him. Mel falls to his knees, and hilariously, we see that the zombie is strangling him with one hand, and waving around a Confederate flag with the other [!]. Show off. Mel starts coughing [?] as Wyatt comes out with the diary.
Wyatt just watches as Mel finally collapses to the ground, and then the zombie just turns around and walks away. Wyatt holds up the diary to this zombie to the tune of the "Military March of the Screaming Dead". The Zombie Captain (who in this light looks a lot like Chiana from Farscape) walks over and reaches out for the book.
He takes it from Wyatt and hands it to one of his "men". Then he reaches out with his claw, and Wyatt stumbles back half a step. It looks like the Captain is about to grab Wyatt, but instead he pulls back the Claw and wipes a tear from his eye [!]. Dammit, finish the job! Then he gets this pained look on his face as if to say, "What the hell was I thinking being in this movie?" The two zombies stumble past Wyatt and wander off.
Wyatt stares at them leaving, then we instantly cut to a close-up of Wyatt with his eyes closed. A woman's voice says, "Wyatt, are you alright?" He looks over and... end movie? Huh? I'm guessing that was Lynn, but what kind of stupid final shot was that?
We then cut to the credits, which are nearly unreadable. Hilariously, the cast list is prefaced with a caption saying, "A WONDERFUL CAST IS WORTH REMEMBERING" [!!!]. I swear, the gall of Tony Malanowski simply astounds me sometimes. Then we get what looks like a repeat of the opening credits to the warped "Military March of the Screaming Dead" theme. Oh, this is great. The music actually runs out halfway through [!!!], and the credits continue on in total silence for another two minutes.
It seems that, just like Night of Horror, this film had a "Creative Lighting Director", who supposedly went by the name of "Skip Garrett". You're not fooling anyone, Mr. Malanowski. Then it's time for another "SPECIAL THANKS" section, and in this section, they actually thank people who were in the movie [??]. No, I think destroying their careers is all the thanks they need. Then there's another Malanowski trademark as we learn that "THIS FILM WAS PHOTOGRAPHED IN MARYLAND USA, AMERICA IN MINIATURE" and see the cryptic credit "LON AND LENDON: I'LL BE THERE SOON!"
Ah, and here's an ad for "CAMPING EQUIPMENT PROVIDED BY RIDGERUNNER OUTFITTERS", including their address and phone number. Presumably, Tony Malanowski worked for them as well.
He gives shout-outs to the "21st ARMY OF NORTHERN VA." and "FEDERAL SIGNAL" for the police lights. And yes, just like Night of Horror, "THIS FILM IS A LITTLE WARSAW PRODUCTION", and along with this credit we get another address and phone number. Finally, we get a very off-center credit telling us the title and year of the movie along with "THE END".
And so the saga of the Tony Malanowski Players finally draws to a close. But fret not; As it turns out, Tony used the proceeds from the sale of Screaming Dead to Troma in order to finance a move to Hollywood, where he participated as an editor in a slew of other potential Agony Booth subjects. Coming soon, it could be the Agony Booth review of... Dinosaur Valley Girls? Yikes!