Zombie 3 - Le Notti Del Terrore

Zombie 3 - Le Notti Del Terrore (1980)

Many years ago I had read about a grade Z zombie film in Chas Balun's fun little 'Gore Score' book called 'Burial Ground'. While 'The Gore Score' never really did go into any length telling you about a film it did what deliver what many teenage gore fans needed to know by telling you that the film was low on plot but big on the gory fun action. In time I managed to track down this little seen film with its UK video release under its actual title of 'The Nights of Terror', the problem here was that it was very heavily edited (in fact of all its gore) for an official 18 rating, but even then I could detect that this low budget shocker was in fact something special. I was hooked and in time managed to track down a bootleg video of the films workprint which whilst being fully uncut was somewhat rough in its presentation. So seemingly obscure was its availability in general that I thought that any hope of finding a definitive release some day was a dream that would never happen. So it was with much delight that I received the news that the lovely folk at Italian Shock were going to release the film on DVD, not only uncut but in widescreen also, that I could have jumped for joy. But would it live up to my expectations and would the DVD format be kind to this little oddball zombie classic?

Directed by Andrea Bianchi (of 'Strip Nude for your Killer' and 'Malabimba' fame), 'The Nights of Terror' is a ballsy exercise in no plot and lengthy atmospheric zombie assaults that once viewers have overcome the whole ridiculous scenario should grow to love. The film opens with a professor whom whilst investigating an underground Estrucan tomb (as you do) gets attacked by some restless zombies. Up above in the luxurious mansion, some guests arrive (for some unknown reason - for a zombie packed variation of the murder mystery weekend perhaps?!) and once they unpack and settle in they soon become targets for the lurching undead! There are two sides to this story character wise that lead the films momentum - on one hand you have the visiting house guests who are the dodgiest bunch of hormonally challenged folk you're likely to meet with all and sundry canoodling at every opportunity (and going by the stalk 'n' slash template they surely deserve cinematic death!) including the highly entertaining clingy incestuous boy (played by Carry On's Charles Hawtrey lookalike Peter Bark) - and on the other hand we have (our inevitable heroes) the zombies themselves who lurch their way confidently through the movie dispatching all the irritant leads with much imagination and expertise. These undead folk aren't stupid, they arm themselves to the teeth (knives, swords, scythes etc), climb walls, use nails as darts and coolly go about their murderous business. And it's the cool calculated way the zombies go about their murderous business that adds great effect to the films delivery. That along with Bianchi's very creepy simple direction which gives the film a realistic nightmare feel as well as the gutsy (if perhaps occasionally over-reaching) gore effects and tasty zombie make ups - 'Nights of Terror' is indeed a much underrated zombie gem that should be welcomed by those with an open mind that are fans of this particular genre. Lovely!

The strangest thing about 'Nights of Terror' that I have always felt and still do with this much welcome release is the feel of the film in context with the rest of the zombie film genre. I've always felt the pacing and style of its delivery very much placed it's making around the early 1970's. It really does look as though it should slot somewhere between Hammer's 'Plague of the Zombies' and Grau's 'Manchester Morgue' - not in 1980 when the films production actually originates! Just check it out to see what I mean (especially the pseudo laid back retro score). And as with previous presentations of the film on the video format, Italian Shock's disc still gives the film that vintage feel...

Presented most welcomingly fully uncut in widescreen (1:1.85) the film has never looked better. The image is strong and detailed throughout but the colour does have a strange over colourful pallor that on occasion resembles an old colorised movie. Not a problem though as it looks the best I've seen it and I doubt there'll ever be a better presentation. And at the end of the day, I'm thrilled that it was Italian Shock that brought us this tasty presentation (they've done it proud) and not another less caring producer (can you imagine a Vipco non-mastering!) In comparison to the splendid Collectors Edition of 'Zombie 2' there's little here in the way of extras but what you get is still kinda cool. There's a rarely seen gory extended theatrical trailer (which I thoroughly enjoyed, but avoid it pre-movie as its laden with spoilers), a nice still gallery and some informative liner /film notes.

'Zombie 3: The Nights of Terror' is a little seen low budget zombie gem that should be welcomed by genre fans both new and old. The old fans (like me) will be thrilled to see this gory grade z schlocker get its welcome DVD release and folk new to the film can get a taste of the sort of trash we like to reminisce about. Zombie fans go get it!

Review by Alan Simpson

Released by Italian Shock DVD Entertainment
Classified 16 - Region 2 (PAL)
Running time - 85m
Ratio - Widescreen 1.66
Audio - Dolby digital mono
Extras :
Theatrical trailer, Stills gallery, Liner notes, Andrea Bianchi filmography, Optional Dutch subtitles, 4pp insert booklet