The Curse of the Screaming Dead (1982) (part 9 of 9)
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!