Starring: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Al Cliver, Richard Johnson, Auretta Gay
Written by: Elisa Briganti
Directed by: Lucio Fulci
Original Year of Release: 1978
Distributor: Blue Underground
Run Time: 1hr, 31 minutes
For many in Italy, it was considered the 'unofficial sequel' to DAWN OF THE DEAD, while in England, it was known as ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS and joined their video nasties list. In the US, it was called ZOMBIE, complete with the tagline "WE ARE GOING TO EAT YOU!" For myself, it was the very last movie on the horror wall at the video store I worked at. Occasionally, I found myself putting it away, usually near Halloween. However, after the season had settled, I ask the "movie guy", my boss, about the film. He told me it was "okay", one of those Italian horror films with some dubbing. Alone it was worth the watch for one underwater scene where a Zombie takes on a shark. That alone got me to take the movie home.
Since that fateful day, I have seen Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE numerous times. My old "movie guy" boss wasn't completely fair to the film. There are several things to enjoy about ZOMBIE outside of the Zombie vs. shark battle, like the eye gauging scene, the New York City opening, as well as the gorilla filmmaking to get the ending. The general unpleasantness of the whole affair also makes ZOMBIE worth the watch. When many American filmmakers painted their zombies as a reflection of ourselves, George A. Romero chief among them, Fulci made them real horrors, the stuff of nightmares, with rotting flesh, and ungodly-like features. Here is the plot, for the uninitiated: a rich man's boat wanders into New York harbor. Anne Bowles (Tisa Farrow) wants to know what happened to her father (the rich man) and teams up with a reporter, Peter West (Ian McCulloch), to trace the journey of the ship in hopes of finding him. The two end up in the Carribean in search of an island named Matul. They hitch a ride with Brian (Al Cliver) and Susan (Auretta Gay) who wind up finding the right island, a "mad scientist" (Richard Johnson) and fighting for their lives.
The acting is not the best. In fact, at times, it is downright horrible. The situations may have something to do with it as you, a member of the audience, are more of an observer than a participant. Everything screams that the next thing is a bad idea for our characters, yet you feel compelled to continue on their journey. This has a lot to do with just how far Lucio Fulci is willing to push the boundaries of horror. There is one scene in particular (outside of the randomness of Zombie vs. Shark) of the mad scientist's wife, Mrs. Menard (Olga Karlatos), and a large splinter of wood. Without supplying a clip (it really should be experienced), Mrs. Menard, after a long and multi-angled shower scene, is attacked by a horde of zombies. She tries to get away and is even smart enough to barricade herself in. After the Zombies break through the door, enough to get a hand on her, they simply pull her closer and closer to a large splinter in the door. You hope that the director will cut away, yet Mrs. Menard keeps getting her eye closer and closer to the point. The point (pun intended) is that most of the film is like this, how far Fulci is willing to go and how much you are willing to watch.
As I said, I have seen the film numerous times. In fact, I have seen it on 35mm, VHS, DVD, and now a 4K restored Blu-ray. Usually, I prefer 35mm or VHS for a film of this nature. It needs to be dirty, gritty, and raw. When a film is restored and cleaned up, one can easily see the wires and makeup lines. Not here, in ZOMBIE. In fact, the film looks as if it was shot yesterday with a late Seventies motif. The picture is beautifully done, the gore looks meatier than before, and damn if the Zombie vs. Shark scene isn't crystal clear. That alone is enough reason to pick up this Blu-ray, but wait there's more!
Many of the special features are holdovers from the 2004 and 2011 releases of the film. For this fan, I had been holding out for a new Blu-ray for some time, so it was a treat to see these dated special features. "Zombie Wasteland" featured interviews with Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver, and Actor/Stuntman Ottaviano Dell'Acqua (the Zombie on the poster with the worms in his eye). Each brought a different perspective to film and discussed it at a 30th-anniversary horror con. The one general consensus was that director Fulci did not care for his female actors. The introduction and interview from director Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, The Shape of Water) about his love for the film is completely infectious and will make any non-fan of the film or genre want to watch it at least once.
As for new material special features, fans will appreciate "When The Earth Spits Out The Dead" which is an interview with Stephen Thrower (Author of "Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci"). Here Thrower discusses the history of the film, the genre, and what the movie meant to Fulci's career. If you are a new fan of the sub-genre of Italian horror films, Thrower supplies you with a great springboard as to where to go next. All in all, you want and need this brilliant, gory, and savage film.
Exclusive Limited Collector's Edition includes 2 Blu-rays, Soundtrack CD, collectible booklet, reversible sleeve, and special 3D lenticular slipcover (First Pressing Only). Pick your version HERE from Blue Underground!
Disc 1 (Blu-ray) Feature Film + Extras:
- NEW! Audio Commentary #1 with Troy Howarth, Author of Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films
- Audio Commentary #2 with Star Ian McCulloch and Diabolik Magazine Editor Jason J. Slater
- NEW! When The Earth Spits Out The Dead - Interview with Stephen Thrower, Author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spots
- Radio Spots
- Poster & Still Gallery
- Guillermo del Toro Intro
Disc 2 (Blu-ray) Extras:
- Zombie Wasteland - Interviews with Stars Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson & Al Cliver, and Actor/Stuntman Ottaviano Dell'Acqua
- Flesh Eaters on Film - Interview with Co-Producer Fabrizio De Angelis
- Deadtime Stories - Interviews with Co-Writers Elisa Briganti and (Uncredited) Dardano Sacchetti
- World of the Dead - Interviews with Cinematographer Sergio Salvati and Production & Costume Designer Walter Patriarca
- Zombi Italiano - Interviews with Special Make-Up Effects Artists Gianetto De Rossi & Maurizio Trani and Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi
- Notes on a Headstone - Interview with Composer Fabio Frizzi
- All in the Family - Interview with Antonella Fulci
- Zombie Lover - Award-Winning Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro talks about one of his favorite films