after death | claudio fragasso | rossella drudi | jeff stryker | candice daly | massimo vanni | zombie | zombies | demon | ritual | sequel | action | italy | jim gaines | don wilson | adrianne joseph | jim moss | nick nicholson | possessed | possession | david anderson
Film: After Death (Oltre la morte)
Director: Claudio Fragasso
Writer: Rossella Drudi
Starring: Jeff Stryker, Candice Daly and Massimo Vanni
This is one that I discovered due to the Internet Movie Database. It technically falls in that weird era where they would tag a franchise name on movies in Italy. The example here is Zombie. What I will say is that this one does feel a bit like the original one, but there is not connection. This one seems to borrow from a good number of American movies that were popular earlier in the decade.
Synopsis: a woman goes back to the island where her parents were killed. They were working on a cure for cancer and accidentally raised the dead by angering a voodoo priest. With the woman is a group of mercenaries and they meet up with other researchers. They raise the dead and all hell breaks loose.
We begin with voice-over narration of man trying to conquer one of the last obstacles, death. We then see a voodoo priest, James Sampson, 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. A group of people then arrive with weapons. It appears that the voodoo priest is raising the dead to punish them. They were doing the research from the synopsis and the voodoo priest is now punishing them. His wife returns from hell and picks off the group one by one as she possessed by something. 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 Chuck (Jeff Stryker) and David (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. David wants Chuck to read from it. He stops when he gets to the words that will raise the dead and David then takes over. They are then attacked by zombies with only Chuck being able to flee. He does learn that destroying the head kills them.
Intercut with this is the other group who are in a boat. There is Jenny (Candice Daly), Dan (Jim Gaines), Tommy (Don Wilson), Louise (Adrianne Joseph), Mad (Jim Moss) and Rod (Nick Nicholson). Jenny 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 Tommy is attacked by zombies. They flee to a hospital to help him. It is completely deserted. Dan finds a cache of M16s. He brings them back to the group. Tommy continues to get worse. While exploring, Jenny 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, Tommy turns into a zombie and the hospital is attacked by more outside. Chuck shows up, telling them that it is a brain that must be destroyed. They are slowly picked off by the zombies. Chuck reveals why his group is here, but it also uncovers a secret about Jenny as well. It is then a fight for survival on this island.
That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction of the characters. Where I want to start with the basic idea here. I like it if I’m honest. This is following movies from this era where we have zombie-like creatures on an island. There have already been a slew of these and this is coming later in that run. I’ve already said that this is borrowing from Zombie. We get that with the shots of our characters hiding inside of the hospital and the horde outside. Much like that movie, they just stand there for the most part. I also get vibes of things like The Beyond where this goes in the end and even a bit of City of the Living Dead. Another big one is The Evil Dead. They have the Book of the Dead and the voodoo priest’s wife gets possessed. That could make this a bit cosmic, Lovecraftian or at the least her being a Deadite.
To delve a bit more into the zombies here, I don’t like that they are inconsistent. That makes it feel more like Zombie 3 or City of the Living Dead. They sometimes just stand there, which feels like they are padding time. They do feel more like Romero zombies though. Shooting them in the head kills them. There are sometimes where they move faster and seem to be strong. I can overlook that though. Just wanted to explain a bit more of that here.
Then the last thing that I want to bring up would be curse. This one is leaning more into voodoo bringing them back. That is fine as that was used in Zombie. The early films in his subgenre also use that like White Zombie. It does also feel like The Evil Dead as I said, as they must read from the book. I like that they can be defeated, but if someone reads, it starts over again. That does seem to have a bit more of a hard rule than the movie borrows from. What I will say though, there are stragglers out there that cause issues.
Moving away from the story, I’ll go over to the acting. None of it is great, but I’m also not going to hold it against them either. Being that this was directed by Claudio Fragasso and written by Rossella Drudi, this is one of their more coherent works to be honest. Stryker was solid as Chuck. Daly is about the same as Jenny. Vanni is interesting as his character David is a jerk and gets them into this mess. Other than that, Gaines, Wilson, Joseph, Moss and Nicholson are all fine. The zombies when they’re moving slow are good as well.
Lastly will the filmmaking. The best part is the effects here. I think the zombie make-up looks good. They do some interesting things with the kills. They are limited on computer effects, mostly due to the era. What we get there is fine. I’d say the cinematography is fine. It doesn’t do anything to stand out or hurt the movie. Other than that, I would say that the soundtrack is solid. It is a bit cheesy, but I have a soft spot for it if I’m going to be honest.
In conclusion, this movie was one that I think I might have been a bit harder than I needed to be the first time around. This was shoehorned into the Zombie series. If you watch this just a stand-alone movie, it is fine. We get a good setting that we’ve seen before, but it builds tension. It borrows from more popular films, but that’s par for the course from Italy. The acting is fine. The effects are good and the soundtrack is solid. This one be for everyone. If you enjoy movies from Italy in this era, I think this is a shut off your brain and just enjoy one.
My Rating: 5.5 out of 10