THE DEAD PIT (1989)
Twenty years ago, a mad surgeon named Ramzi worked at a hospital for the mentally insane and used his patients in a secret experiment deep within the hospital’s basement and found a way to conquer death just before being shot in the head and sealed in the tomb by a fellow doctor. Now, an earthquake has broken open the seal and the undead surgeon, who has patiently waited for his day to return and begin his experiments anew, has been let loose. It is on this very day that the hospital receives its latest patient, a buxom brunette who claims to have had her memory stolen and goes by the name of Jane Doe.
Jane spends each day being terrorized by images of the insane undead surgeon, although no one else seems to notice him, while at night her dreams are tormented by images of her past. But Ramzi is not content in just giving Jane goosebumps, and begins to kidnap patients and hospital staff, bringing them back to the now abandoned building where he continues his experiments in keeping the dead alive. When his army of still living and stumbling corpses is discovered, they are unleashed upon the hospital grounds to feed. Only Jane, a patient obsessed with explosives, and a little holy water can stop them!
While the zombies wait patiently just off stage for their chaotic reign of terror, Cheryl Lawson provides ample entertainment as Jane Doe. Sure she may not have the best line delivery (incidentally, she later found success as a stunt woman) and any attempt to become scream queen material leaves much to be desired. However she does have an incredible body and absolutely no shame when it comes to parading around in skimpy clothes on cold nights, and that goes a long way in a borderline exploitation movie like this. Danny Gochnauer, who makes his only screen appearance as here as Dr. Ramzi, uses his naturally demonic facial expressions coupled with some generously applied latex, to a make a memorable king of the zombies. The medical-themed puns he is entrusted with might even make Freddy Kruger cringe, but his creepy screen presence more than makes up for it.
And that is what it all comes down to. THE DEAD PIT is certainly not without its faults, with more than a few questionable plot holes throughout the meandering story and nothing but b-grade acting across the board, but damn if it isn’t a fun and charming little zombie flick that never gets pretentious and never takes itself seriously. Leonard just wants to provide a hundred minutes of pure 80s cheese to the home video market, and that he most certainly does.