Vinegar Syndrome: Cemetery of Terror (1985) - Reviewed

On a Mexican Halloween night a group of bored teens decide to steal a corpse from the local morgue in an effort to try and revive the body.  The only problem is, ala Frankenstein, they’ve stolen the body of a Satan worshipping homicidal maniac and inadvertently unleash unholy havoc on themselves and the nearby town.  Quickly bodies fall in all manner of increasingly gruesome over the top ways, leaving only master of the occult Dr. Carden (Hugo Stiglitz) standing in the way of unspeakable evil and the survival of mankind.
The big screen debut of Mexican writer-director Rubén Galindo, Jr. Cemetery of Terror, unearthed by Vinegar Syndrome alongside their releases for the director’s equally bonkers horror mashups Don’t Panic and Grave Robbers, is among the nuttiest zombie films in living (or unliving?) memory.  Chock full of buckets of practically rendered gore effects, absurd plot twists with a final showdown you won’t soon forget and a curious mixture of slasher and supernatural horror tropes, the film announced the arrival of a new kind of world horror moviemaking.

As with his subsequent features, Galindo’s films more or less play out the same premise of a group of unassuming teenagers summoning the Devil himself with varying degrees of visual effects renderings of bloodshed, murder and mayhem.  Moreover, the film doesn’t slow down once the cat is out of the bag until the end credits roll.  While a smorgasbord of disparate genres of American horror that shouldn’t go together, the film nevertheless delivers the goods in terms of shock thrills made with a clear love for the horror film.    
Technically speaking Cemetery of Terror is a strong first-time director’s feature with some colorful cinematography by Luis Medina and Rosalio Solano and a brooding score by Chucho Zarzosa.  Performances by the young ensemble cast are serviceable with screen legend Hugo Stiglitz taking on the role of unlikely hero though the film’s real stars are the visual effects artists who conjure up some grotesquely memorable death scenes and striking zombie sequences. 

As with the more fully developed Grave Robbers and the batshit Don’t Panic, Cemetery of Terror is only making an appearance to American filmgoers now.  Until the good folks at Vinegar Syndrome dug these out from cinematic purgatory, the name Rubén Galindo, Jr. didn’t necessarily ring a bell for most horror filmgoers.  Though Galindo’s theatrical filmmaking career petered out before going on to do straight to video fare, his brief stint in horror left behind three indelible offerings most veterans working in the genre would be proud of.  Cemetery of Terror might serve up familiar goods but they’re bloody as Hell all the same!

--Andrew Kotwicki