As was already mentioned in yesterday’s article, May is Zombie Awareness Month, and what better way to celebrate this ludicrously inane holiday than with Lucio Fulci’s 1979 gore-fest Zombie (or Zombi 2). (It should be noted that despite the ‘2’ in the title, the film it not a sequel to anything, rather, one of George A. Romero’s earlier films was released in Italy under the name ‘Zombi’, and so this film was called ‘Zombi 2’ as a means of luring Romero’s fan base into seeing this film).
Like most zombie films, the plot can be easily summed up in a mere paragraph: A zombie is found aboard a boat off the New York coast belonging to a famous scientist named Dr. Bowles. Peter West (Ian McCulloch), a journalist, travels to the Antilles with Brian Hull (Al Cliver), an ethnologist, his girlfriend Susan (Auretta Gay), and Ann Bowles (Tisa Farrows), the daughter of the scientist and whose disappearence she wants to investigate. They arrive at an island where Ann’s father was last seen only to discover a terrifying disease running amok on the island which is turning the islanders and their victims into flesh-eating zombies.
Fulci’s Zombie is the complete inverse of Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968)—in place of stark black-and-white cinematography, moody atmosphere, and implied gore, Fulci assaults his audience with vivid colors, tropical ambiance, and enough fake blood to remake every Herschell Gordon Lewis film every made. Zombie suffers from several drawbacks common among ‘Spaghetti pictures’ (i.e. films made with predominantly Italian-speaking casts and then redubbed for English speaking audiences). There is notable re-dubbing and lip-synching issues in Fulci’s film, particularly with Italian-speaking actors Cliver and Gay, but fortunately for them, this isn’t anywhere near as distracting as other flaws with the film, like the fact that the principal cast’s acting abilities are only marginally better than the zombies that surround them, or the insane levels of gore that make even the most diehard and seasoned horror fan shiver.
But despite the film’s faults, Fulci’s gore-fest still provides plenty of screams and remains a favorite among zombie cinema fans. Perhaps what sets Fulci’s film apart from other zombie flicks is the level of creativity and strangeness that Fulci injects into his works. Besides an infamously strange scene involving a rotting Conquistador ripping out a person’s throat, Fulci’s film is perhaps best known for having a fight scene between a zombie and tiger shark. There is something almost ballet-like and beautiful about this scene as the zombie (played by trained professional Ramón Bravo) wrestles underwater with a real tiger shark before biting it, no doubting infecting the shark with the zombie virus and leading many of us to wonder why no one has made a zombie-shark movie (yet).
All in all, Lucio Fulci’s Zombie remains an imperfect masterpiece, a cult-classic that remains beloved by zombie and horror fans everywhere and one that is sure to get a noticeable reaction out of anyone who have never seen it before. Those with weak stomachs should be mindful as Zombie doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to evisceration and blood, and as such, its highly recommended that this film should only be watched on an empty stomach, less some unfortunately up-chucking takes place in your living room.
Find the nearest Blockbuster near your home so you can rent these films almost immediately. Or, if you prefer that movies came to you instead, set up a Netflix account and start your ordering as soon as possible.