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Crucified (2019) Review

Claudio Lattanzi, the director and co-writer, with Antonio Tentori (Nightmare Symphony, Island of the Living Dead), of Crucified (aka Everybloody’s End) isn’t exactly a household name. Which is understandable, as the only other feature he directed was 1987’s Killing Birds: Raptors, better known under the misleading title Zombie 5: Killing Birds.

However, he also has assistant director credits on Michele Soavi’s classic Stage Fright and Umberto Lenzi’s Ghosthouse as well as Interzone and the documentary Dario Argento’s World of Horror. In other words, he should be better known and probably would be if assorted backstage bullshit hadn’t turned him off of the business and caused a thirty-two-year gap between features.

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Set “In another era, in another place” that is sometime after Armageddon, Crucified gets off to a good start with a man (Sergio Stivaletti in a cameo) who looks like a witchfinder from the 1700s stalking and impaling a woman.

A plague has destroyed the world, and a group of former soldiers known as Exterminators hunt down and crucify the infected in a perverse attempt to save what’s left of humanity. In an underground bunker five survivors, Bionda (Cinzia Monreale, The Beyond, Frankenstein 2000), Rossa (Tania Orlandi), Nera (Veronica Urban, Herbert West: Re-Animator), a theologian named Steiner (Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Beyond Fury, City of the Living Dead) and Michael (Lorenzo Lepori, Flesh Contagium, Notte Nuda) a doctor who may have a cure for the disease are hiding, planning their next move.

What they don’t know is that the plague’s origins are more sinister than they could imagine. And an enemy much worse than The Exterminators lurks among them.

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With a cast and crew that combines familiar names and faces from both classic and modern Italian horror, Crucified certainly had my expectations up. And it certainly comes out swinging, with some atmospheric camera work, a bit of violence, (watch for Marina Loi from Demons 2 and Zombie 3 as a victim) and some impressive shots of destruction.

Once everyone ends up in the basement, things slow down considerably as the characters discuss the situation and argue among themselves. The low body count through this part of the film may turn some viewers off, but things pick back up in the final act. But it’s with a twist that will divide viewers as Crucified goes from a post-apocalyptic pandemic film into one involving vampires.

It’s a stretch, but as anyone who’s watched more than a couple of films by Fulci, Argento, etc knows the bizarre is nothing unusual for Italian horror. The anticlimactic note Crucified ends on was a much bigger problem for me, actually. The film sets up what looks like it’s going to be a wild finish, then just sort of fizzles out. I think it’s meant to be symbolic of something, but it went right over my head. Hopefully, others will have better luck figuring it out.

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Fans of Italian horror should enjoy the film up to that point, however. Sergio Stivaletti (The Church, Cemetery Man) provides some nice effects, although there really aren’t enough of them. Luigi Seviroli’s score channels Jerry Goldsmith and old-school horror films add to the throwback effect. And, of course, it’s always fun to see Giovanni Lombardo Radice in a genre film. Especially in an actual role and not a glorified cameo. And while it isn’t everything it could, and should, have been, Crucified still has an interesting enough story and enough atmosphere to hold more casual fans’ attention.

Uncork’d Entertainment will release Crucified in North America on digital on March 9th. You can check their Facebook page for more details. The film’s Italian language Facebook page is here.

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