Zombie (Zombi 2)
Director - Lucio Fulci
Cast - Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson
Country of Origin - Italy
Discs - 2
MSRP - $39.98
Distributor - Blue Underground
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Film (4/5)
There is a saying that applies to the band the Velvet Underground that goes something like 1000 people bought the Velvet Underground and Nico (when it came out), and everyone of them started a band. Now according to Fulci, Zombie (a.k.a. Zombi 2, Zombie Flesh Eaters) did big business, but I feel that quote sort of applies. If you were a young horror fan, and got your hands on a copy of Zombie, or were one of the lucky ones who saw in theaters your life was changed.
Other horror just wasn't as good anymore. It was weak compared to what Messr. Fulci was doing with this one film. Also, seeing it one time wasn't enough it become an obsession, an addiction. If you lived in the video/DVD era you would soon find out that there were more Fulci horror offerings to sample, and yes, some of them were gorier, and even better than Zombie. However, Zombie was the gateway drug, and what a gateway drug.
Right behind the early Romero zombie films, Zombie is probably the greatest zombie film of the post Night of the Living Dead era. While the film is most known for a couple of very notable set-pieces (Zombie Vs. Shark, Olga's eyeball vs. splinter), it is simply a atmospheric horror adventure. Sure those scenes are fun, but they are the just part of this violent Italian splatter package, and the whole thing is so damn fun.
Zombie stars Tisa Farrow as Anne Bowles a woman whose Father was a scientist whose research frequently took him too an Island called Matul in the Antilles. As the movie opens her Father's boat is found adrift in New York Harbor, and the police sent to investigate are ambushed by a hulking fat Zombie that was stowed away with the ships cargo. One cop dies, the other shoots th zombie into the water.
This gets the attention of newspaper writer Peter West (Ian McCulloch - Doctor Who Warriors of the Deep), who begins to investigate the case on his own. He meets up with Ann, and the two decide to go to Matul together to find out more about the incident on the boat, and about Ann's Father's fate.
Upon arrival in St. Thomas they meet up with another couple Brian (Eurohorror mainstay Al Cliver) and Susan (Auretta Gay) who will be sailing the islands in their own private boat for a few months. They agree to take the pair aboard, and together they begin searching the area for Matul (It's not on the map). Upon arrival they cross paths with Dr. Menard (The Haunting's Richard Johnson), who is a scientist that has been experimenting with the zombie epidemic on the island. He informs Ann that her Father died a few months earlier, and that he sent his boat, and it's crew home, and he has spent the time before and since trying to stop the zombie plague that has been menacing the island for some time. Unfortunately, the zombies have reached his side of the island, and have begun their invasion. It's up to the survivors, now holed up in Menard's hospital to fight back against the zombie menace.
Zombie is one great glorious gory mess (in the splatter sense) of a film. It is a film known for it's scenes of extreme violent mayhem than for any other element, and honestly when the gore is as good as what is on display here it's hard not to argue. The film is 33 year olds this year, and the special FX by Gianetto DeRossi and his crew still hold up this far down the line. Also, the zombie creature effects are still some of the most memorable in the history of zombie cinema, from the fat, and bald zombie that opens the film, to the maggot encrusted bugger that has adorned every single piece of promotional artwork for this film since 1978.
The direction from Fulci keeps the film running at a good pace, while it does have a few slow moments, those are few and far between. He also creates a great atmosphere of dread over the whole piece, especially the island scenes where their is a air of complete desolation and dread. Also, while some of his earlier films contained gory sequences, his willingness to never cut away from gorier moments made this a truly landmark film in gore cinema.
Of course no discussion of Zombie would be complete without discussing the score by Fabio Frizzi and Giorgio Tucci. The score is both completely memorable, and endlessly catchy. It helps set the mood for the entire film, and there is not a misspent note anywhere in the used soundtrack. The main theme which opens the film, and is used throughout, is almost as iconic as the film itself.
Zombie is the film that initiated the silver age of Italian horror. It brought upon the 2nd great wave of Fulci's career, and is one of the greatest zombie films of all time. Even after dozens of viewings it holds up extremely well. Zombie is a true classic of the horror genre.
Blue Underground has presented Zombie with a 2:35:1 1080p transfer taken from the original camera negative under the supervision of cinematographer Sergio Salvati. I have seen a lot of copies of Zombie over the years, and this one is truly the best the film has ever looked. The colors pop, flesh tones are for the most part accurate, and the black levels are deep. There is a decent amount of grain, and the picture has a clarity to it, that I have never seen before. This, of course, does reveal some of the makeup FX, which is the only real negative I can find with it.
The audio is presented in 6.1 and 5.1 tracks in both Italian and English. I kept it with the 5.1 English track, as that is what I am used to hearing with film played in, and with Italian films of this particular vintage, it is all a matter of personal preference, as they were all dubbed in post. The dialogue is completely audible on the track, music and effects are mixed well, and I could not hear any distortion or any other background anomalies anywhere on the track. Overall, another excellent presentation from Blue Underground.
Well, this is called the Zombie "Ultimate Edition", and it is pretty damn ultimate. It is 2 disc that are completely filled with so many extras that it took quite some time to go through them all. The first disc contains most of the extras you've seen before barring an introduction to the film by Guillermo Del Toro. These include the commentary between Ian McCulloch and Eaten Alive author Jay Slater, trailers, radio spots, TV spots, and a poster, and Stills gallery.
The 2nd disc is where the real meat (pun intended) of the set lies, and it kicks off with Zombie wasteland which is a 20 minute documentary/interview piece with most of the primary cast at Ohio's Cinema Wasteland convention. We then have Flesh Eaters on Film a 10 minute interview with the film's producer Fabrizio De Angelis, this is followed by Deadtime Stories a 15 minute interview with Zombie screenwriters Elisa Briganti, and Dardano Saccheti. We then have World of the Dead a 17 minute interview with the costume designer on Zombie, and also cinematographer Sergio Salvati. We then get an interview the Makeup FX artist on the film entitled Zombi Italiano, Notes on a Headstone an interview with Fabio Frizzi, All in the Family a 6 minute interview with Antonella Fulci, and finally a 10 minute appreciation of the film by Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo Del Toro.
It's Zombie, it's on Blu-ray, and it looks amazing. If that wasn't reason alone to pick this up. This disc is completely loaded with extras. Highly Recommended.