Director: Lucio Fulci
Richard Johnson/Dr. Menard
With the help of dashing journalist Peter (McCulloch), Ann (Farrow) heads out to some hard-to-find island in search of her missing daddy. Once there, she finds an army of flesh-craving zombies instead. Surprise! Did you know that zombies could swim underwater and wrestle sharks? You do now…YEAH!!!!
When the earth spits out the dead, they will rise to suck the blood of the living!
After hearing so much about Mr. Fulci’s work, I decided to hunt down his most “famous” film to see what all the fuss was about. Did he live up to the hype that’s been tossed my way for two years from a multitude of horror fans? In some respects, yes, he did…read on.
The story in this flick is nothing really special but the execution is moody and ballsy. Gotta love the Italians, they’re not afraid to push the limits of bad taste and seem to always take shite one step further than their American counterparts. What really pleased me about "Zombie" was its courage to try things that haven’t been touched in other zombie movies before. The best example of that is the tension-filled topless chick vs zombie vs shark underwater sequence that at first had me squirming in my couch, but then had me laughing like a schoolgirl sniffing glue. It's not every day that you see a zombie go one-on-one with a freakin' shark. Yeah, you heard me! A SHARK! I dub thee: “most memorable Zombie sequence in history”. I can now die in peace knowing that I’ve seen it all.
The living dead themselves are beyond disgusting and made the American zombies look like Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue models. I’m talking maggot-infested eye sockets, dirtier than Mickey Rourke and so slow that it's freaking eerie…shit, I could almost smell these fuckers in my living room. I totally went nuts for the zombies coming out of the ground scenes. There’s such a sense of putrid atmosphere and impending doom that floats around those scenes. Words cannot really describe how those chilling bits made me feel. The sour flavor Fulci slaps in there is indescribable. Needless to say…GOOD SHITE! Suspense-wise, the flick had me chewing my Cabbage Patch Doll (her name is Mandy) on more than one occasion. The sequence where the chick gets an eye-popping surprise really had me by the jewels. Talk about an effective murder!
Now the film is far from perfect. First off, the pace tends to be slow, especially in the beginning. Since patience (when it comes to horror films anyways) is one of my virtues, it didn’t bother me much but I can see how some of the more restless genre fans could get bored. The flick also sports some bad character development (I didn’t really care about anybody here), cheesy dialogue and weak acting.
Another boo-boo is that the chicks in this film are incredibly stupid. For some unknown reason, every time they spot zombies, they just freeze and gobble like turkeys. On more than one occasion, I found myself yelling out loud: "run you stupid broad, run for you life!" They didn’t listen. Speaking of dumb moves, I don’t know about you guys, but if I’ve just witnessed a horde of zombies snacking on some dead gal, I wouldn’t separate myself from my group and the last place I would choose to chill at is a damn cemetery….COME ON!
But overall, "Zombie" somewhat made up for its flaws with its rotten ambiance, its excessive gore, its effective zombie attacks sequences, its exciting bang-bang-pow zombie bitch goes down action bits and its clever (if not déjà vu) last frame. Sure, character-wise the acting/dialogue/silly moves dragged them down, but for some odd reason, I still didn’t root for the zombies to eat them, and I guess that means something. I wouldn’t wish those living corpses on anybody (except Leonard Maltin)! My appetite is now wet for more Fulci. I need more! Let's eat some meat!
Wow! You dig gore? Then Happy Birthday! The gore and zombie make-up by Gianetto De Rossi looks very real and hits where it hurts. I’m talking cut-off zombie fingers, a sharp piece of wood in some lady’s eye (by far the grossest scene of the flick), bullets in the face, bullets in the head, raw flesh-eating, mucho smashed heads, gross zombie bites, bitten-off cheek and more! Fun times…
NOTE: Don’t watch this flick for the acting. It’s weak and the dubbing is "off" at times. Tisa Farrow (Ann) ain't much of an actress and basically coasts through the film displaying one emotion: fear. Ian McCulloch (Peter) does what he can but some of his lines made him look bad. Richard Johnson (Dr. Menard) is the better actor here. He’s focused and plays it down. Al Cliver (Bryan) acts with his beard. Auretta Gay (Susan) acts with her tits.
T & A
We get a topless gal going scuba diving, which eventually leads to a G-string butt shot. And we get more ta-tas from some other chickadee in a shower scene. Tissue anyone? Bueller? Anyone?
Fulci is less flamboyant than Argento in terms of zany shots, but still delivers the goods in his own morbid way. I loved his use of close-ups, the decaying atmosphere in which he surrounded the film, his effective shot compositions, his injection of tension in respect to the zombie sequences, his use of silence and his no-holds barred approach when it came to the red stuff. Nice!
The score by Fabio Frizzi and Giorgio Tucci is mostly on the ball. Yes, it does have its cheesy synthesizer moments but there’s something really appealing about it, especially during the zombie scenes. The jungle type tune was overplayed though.
If by rule of thumb you dig zombie flicks and extreme gore, then you have to see this down and dirty walking dead opus. The pace lags a bit at times and the characters are mooks, but if you stick with this baby till the end, you will be rewarded in plasma, mood and action. Zombie satisfied my carnivorous craving and delivered the meat. Grati Fulci, what’s for dessert?
Zombie was created in response to the success of George Romero's "Dawn of the Dead". It was called "Zombi 2" overseas, since Dawn was called Zombi.
Tisa Farrow is the sister of Mia Farrow.
Richard Johnson was in the original "Haunting".
Other titles for Zombie include Island of the Flesh - Eaters - Island of the Living Dead - Ultimi zombi, Gli - Zombie - Zombie 2: The Dead Are Among Us - Zombie Flesh Eaters - Zombies 2.