Zombie (1979)

Posted: December 30, 2010 in Movie Review
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Zombie (1979)

AKA: Zombi 2, Zombie Flesh Eaters, Island of the Living Dead, Zombie Island

Director: Lucio Fulci

Starring: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Al Cliver, Auretta Gay, Richard Johnson, Olga Karlatos

Sub-genre: Zombies

When it comes to zombie flicks, it is generally accepted that George A Romero is the father of the modern genre, the Knight of the Living Dead, if you will.  However, if anyone can come close to challenging Romero, it is the Godfather of Gore, Lucio Fulci.

Fulci has given us many great zombie movies, and his most popular one may very well be Zombie.  Released in Italy as Zombi 2 in an effort to capitalize on the popularity of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (which was released in Italy as Zombi), Fulci’s classic more than stands on its own.

Zombie starts with a sail boat drifting into New York Harbor.  When the Harbor Patrol is unable to hail anyone on board, the investigate, only to find a bloated, decomposing zombie that attacks and kills a police officer before being shot and falling overboard.  We soon find out that the boat belonged to a doctor that was away on a topical island doing some form of research (never a good sign in a zombie movie).  After a quick introduction to Anne (the daughter) and Peter (a reporter), we are off to the Caribbean to find the island of Matool.

Once there, Anne and Peter hook up with Brian and Susan, who have a boat and agree to take them to the island, even though the locals say it is cursed and should be avoided.  Once again, when in a situation where the locals say something is cursed, heed their advice.  Pretty sure that throughout cinematic history, they have never been wrong.

While Susan is scuba diving we get to witness what I consider to be the best scene ever in a horror movie.  An underwater zombie battles a shark.  Yes, a shark.  Pretty convincing scene too.  Check it out for yourself.  It has been featured in commercials and t-shirts have been made commemorating it.   It is worth watching the movie just for this scene.

On the island of Matool, we meet another doctor and his wife.  They have an argument and then the wife takes a shower, gets attacked by zombies, and we get to witness another infamous scene.  The splinter through the eyeball.  Fulci was a mad genius.  He more than deserves his moniker as The Godfather of Gore.  He didn’t seem to mind large amounts of gratuitous nudity either, judging by the scuba diving scene and the extended shower scene with a full length mirror.  No wonder this guy is a genre favorite.

Anyways, Zombie ends as all good zombie movies do.  The living dead attack en masse.  There is a showdown at the hospital.  Susan and Brian are both killed and turned to zombies.  When Anne and Peter escape, they take the infected Brian with them as evidence, because who would believe that the dead have come back to life without evidence?

The evidence turns out to be unnecessary, as they soon receive a radio report that zombies are attacking New York City.  The movie ends with zombies shuffling across the Brooklyn Bridge, which I think is an absolutely brilliant ending.  It would have been cool to see a sequel where New York was invaded by the living dead.

Fulci’s masterpiece was released in the UK in the early 80s with nearly 2 minutes cut, as this was the only way it would be allowed to be played in theatres.  When a distributor released an uncut version, the film subsequently landed on the infamous Video Nasties list, a list that many of us horror fiends use as a “must-see” list.

There was, of course, a Zombi 3 released in 1988, and Fulci even worked on the follow-up.  Not surprisingly, the movie had nothing to do with Zombi 2 (or Zombi for that matter), with the exception of featuring zombies.

Originally posted on www.film-talkrefugees.com on November 25, 2010.

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