Directed by Raffaele Picchio
Written by Tiziano Martella & Raffaele Picchio (story), Gianluigi Perrone (screenplay)
Starring Valentina D’Andrea, Andrea De Bruyn, Désirée Giorgetti, Francesco Malcom, Giuseppe Nitti, & Simone Ripanti
Find out when and where you can see this on the film’s website and Facebook page!
Man, the premise of this one had me at “Ciao.” Gladiator zombies rise to inflict brutal death to a group of party-goers who stumble upon their burial grounds. Plus it’s an Italian horror film, none-the-fucking-less! Italian zombies! A new Italian zombie film and this time they are gladiator zombies? Hellz yes! Still, those who like things like story, nuance, and good taste, might want to give this grand guignol a pass.
The opening credits of MORITURIS is impressive, as a comic book-like rendition of the gladiatorial games with seemingly genuine old Roman music crashing and blaring in the background (click on the website her for a sample). I loved every gory second of the opener. The narrative then slows to a crawl for a good portion of the film, though, as five party-goers make their way to a rave in the woods. Director Raffaele Picchio lets these kids babble on for quite some time about seemingly nothing and show off either no personality or qualities that make you want them to end up chunks on the end of a gladiator’s mace. But Picchio has something up his sleeve in this seemingly banal opener. I don’t want to give it away, but at about the 30 minute mark this becomes a movie I wasn’t expecting to see. This isn’t a bad thing, but some may be put off by the brutality of what transpired here. Again, I’m struggling not to reveal much, because this is an effective film, though some might become frustrated waiting to see gladiators who don’t show up until well into the latter half of the movie. That’s not to say that there isn’t some extremely brutal and twisted stuff going on until then, but there isn’t a zombie gladiator to be seen for a long portion of the film.
But when the zombie gladiators do attack, whoa nelly! Picchio takes full advantage of the gladiators’ arsenal of weaponry to do away with the partygoers in brutal and sadistic fashion. Though one might wonder how these gladiators ever killed anything at the slow rate they move, they do prove to be formidable and evil bastards when they do finally catch up to their prey. It’s a face splattering, spear gouging, cat-o-nine-tails whipping, sword slashing, crucifyingly good time. The gore at play is not for the squeamish and really stretches the boundaries when it comes to good taste. Picchio’s camera lingers on the torture with an uncomfortable fascination and I must admit, the longer it lingered, the more squirmy I felt. But if you’re a gorehound, this film works.
I really loved the premise, the design of the gladiators in their various garb and brandishing their gnarly weaponry. MORITURIS is an exploitative film and feels as if it were swiped from an age where there was more of a fascination with gore effects like the late eighties. Light on story and tact, MORITURIS is a brutal and in your face film. It pulls no punches. I was able to get through it, but even for this hardened horror meister, some of the torture is extremely hard to watch. If you’re brave, give MORITURIS a gander. There’s a trainwreck quality about it, I couldn’t ignore.