Based on its title, one may expect Memory of the Dead to be a zombie movie. Even the film’s set up will have you preparing for an undead outbreak, but it’s not long before things take a decidedly different turn. Known as La Memoria del Muerto in its native tongue, Valentín Javier Diment’s Memory of the Dead is a creative slice of horror from Argentina.
It’s apparent that Diment and his co-writers, Martín Blousson, Nicanor Loreti and Germán Val, were greatly inspired by the Evil Dead films when making Memory of the Dead. Not only does Diment pay homage to some of Sam Raimi’s creative filmmaking techniques, but the movies share a similar penchant for over-the-top gore and tongue-in-cheek humor. Memory of the Dead’s subject matter and abundance of sexuality bring to mind Cemetery Man, while its vivid color pallet is reminiscent of the works of Dario Argento or Mario Bava.
Alicia (Lola Berthet) gathers six of her recently departed husband’s closest friends – Hugo (Luis Ziembrowski), Nicanor (Matias Marmorato), Monica (Lorena Vega), Ivana (Flora Gro), Mauro (Rafael Ferro), and Fabiana (Jimena Anganuzzi) – to pay their final respects. The memorial takes place 50 days after his death (the reason is never made clear), and when the clock strikes midnight, outside of Alicia’s country home turns into a kind of pathway between the land of the living and that of the dead. Deceased loved ones of the friends begin to show up, along with other demons from their past, which in most cases lead to a gory, untimely death. Alicia, meanwhile, believes the house will act as a light to guide her husband (Gabriel Goity) back to life.
I’d be lying if I said Memory of the Dead is completely coherent, but it’s not difficult to simply accept the shortcomings and enjoy its marvelous set pieces and striking visuals. If stylish direction isn’t your bag, there’s also plenty of blood splattered about in addition to great practical effects work. The outdoor landscapes are created largely by CGI, but their cartoony nature somehow work with the film.
Fans of darkly humorous splatterfests like Evil Dead II and Dead Alive will find plenty to love about Memory of the Dead, although they may be turned off by the lucid narrative. Conversely, foreign and independent film enthusiasts will appreciate the moody, artistic filmmaking approach but may not enjoy the sillier moments. Regardless of which side you fall on, Memory of the Dead – now available on DVD via Artsploitation Films – comes recommended. And if, like me, you appreciate both sides of the coin, you’re in for a real treat.