After Death

03/19/2018 11:29

Film: After Death (Oltre la morte)

Year: 1989

Director: Claudio Fragasso

Writer: Rossella Drudi

Starring: Jeff Stryker, Candice Daly and Massimo Vanni

 

Review:

This film begins with a voice-over narration of man trying to conquer one of the last obstacles, death. We then see a voodoo priest and his wife performing a ritual. He is reading from the Book of the Dead. Something comes out of it and goes into the mouth of his wife. She is then sucked into the sand. Then a group of people arrive with weapons. It appears that the voodoo priest is raising the dead to punish them. They were doing research to prevent death and the voodoo priest is now punishing them. His wife returns from hell and picks off of the group one by one.

Outside in the jungle is a family. The father and mother are attacked by other zombies as the little girl walks away.

We then shift to more present time. There is a group of three who are trying to find out what happened to the research team from years previous. The two males are, Jeff Stryker and Massimo Vanni, as well as a woman. They end up in a grotto where they find candles in an odd formation as well as a stone face with glowing eyes and mouth. They also find the Book of the Dead. Vanni has Stryker read from it. He stops when he gets to the words that will raise the dead and Vanni takes over. They are then attacked by zombies with only Stryker being able to flee. He does learn that destroying the head kills them.

Intercut with this is another group in a boat. There is Candice Daly, Jim Gaines, Don Wilson, Adrianne Joseph, Jim Moss and Nick Nichoson. Daly talks about a nightmare she has about an island with the living dead on it. The men mock her about this, but she is afraid. She thinks she can hear them. They run into problems when their boat breakdowns so they are forced to go ashore.

They explore until Wilson is attacked by some zombies. They flee to a hospital to help him. It is completely deserted. Gaines ends up finding a cache of M16s. He brings them back to the group. Wilson continues to get worse. While exploring, Daly finds a similar configuration of candles. She explains that it is to open a door to hell and that the amulet she wears can close it.

As night falls, Wilson turns into a zombie and the hospital is attacked by more outside. Stryker shows up, telling them that it is a brain that must be destroyed. They are slowly picked off by the zombies. Stryker reveals why his group is here, but it also uncovers a secret about Daly as well.

Can they survive the night and this onslaught? Or are they doomed on this island?

Now I will come in stating that the zombie genre is something that is slightly oversaturated now, mostly with bad ones. This one is older coming out in 1989, but it still falls into the lesser category. That is not to say that this one doesn’t do some good things. The first of which is I don’t mind the voodoo angle. There are just some plot holes though. Why do some run, while others walk? How come some of them can talk while some of the other ones cannot? Wilson is attacked by zombies before the ritual done by Vanni. I just feel that this one is a bunch of scenes loosely put together. I will give it credit that it knew it wanted to be a zombie film coming in. The zombie that the voodoo priest’s wife becomes is almost like a demon. To go with this, even the zombies seem to appear places just out of no where and it didn’t make a lot of sense either. The story really just had no coherency unfortunately. I did like how it ended though.

The acting also left something to be desired. No one really impressed me in this film as some characters were just caricatures and was quite generic. Moss and Nicholson are typical former macho soldiers. Joseph is the damsel in distress who wants to be saved and comes off way too helpless. Daly wasn’t bad, but she was written poorly. Stryker and Vanni only seemed to be in it for their physique even that goes really unused.

Effects for the film were hit or miss. I thought the zombie looks, blood and the use of it were all pretty solid. Some of the attacks that were done looked good. They were done practically and I enjoyed that aspect. Then there are times that you can tell a gun isn’t being fired, but they are trying to get us to believe that they are. It is little things like this that I think they ignored that would have helped. The editing was a mess. The film never really built any tension. Part of this could be that I didn’t really care if any of the characters lived or died. That really hurt the film. They also seemed to increase running time would just randomly reuse shots instead of just filming something else to go there. The score of the film was pretty solid. It has that Italian feel that was like a poor man’s Goblin. I did enjoy it.

Now with that said, I wouldn’t recommend this film. This is a poorly constructed zombie/voodoo/demon film. The story tried to do some good things, but it just liked that glue to be coherent. The acting was poor and none of them really impressed me. Daly was probably the best of the group, but she wasn’t fleshed out enough. The effects were practical, which is good, but even they were hit or miss. The editing was bad and the film never builds tension. The score was a bright spot. Now this film came from Italy and there are some dubbing issues, which is common for the era from that country. I just feel there are much better in the genre for your time.

 

My Rating: 3 out of 10