For the best of the Horror/Cult/Exploitation film experience
Zombie (1979) - (Blu-ray)
When it comes to zombie films there is no name more famous than George A. Romero. His original zombie trilogy are probably the three most recognized films that the walking dead are featured. So when Romero’s film made big money in Italy after it was released there as “Zombi” that someone was going to try and rake in some cash off of it. So Fabrizio DeAngelis decided that he would come up with a unofficial sequel to the film and title it “Zombi 2 . Director Lucio Fulci was brought into the project and the rest is history. What resulted is one of the most horrifying and creepy zombie films to ever grace the silver screen. But with that being said, it also started something in the horror genre that would never leave it the same again. “Zombie” or as it’s known in Italy “Zombi 2 (a take of the similarly titled Zombi which was Romero’s Dawn of the Dead), would be Fulci’s first take in the zombie subgenre that would see a barrage of excellent movies such as Fulci’s “Gates of Hell” (aka City of the Living Dead) and “The Beyond”. These movies were like nothing that came before them and even though the exploitation of a title linked Romero and Fulci, the two filmmakers couldn’t have possibly been any different. Both were effective and both managed to leave to very different and lasting marks on the genre.
“Zombie” starts with a couple of New York City policemen finding a boat in the harbor completely abandoned. Upon entering the ship, they find everything destroyed and completely a mess....oh, and they find one of the walking dead aboard the ship (or maybe I should say that it finds them ) We then discover that the boat belonged to a scientist whose whereabouts were currently unknown. His daughter Ann (Tisa Farrow, Mia Farrow’s sister) is attempting to find out information about her father to find out what happened to him. With the help of journalist Peter West (the legendary Ian McCulloch) they go on a journey to find the scientist. In the course of their investigation they decide to go the island of Matul, with Brian (Al Cliver) and Susan (Auretta Gay) who captain the boat that they take there. Upon arrival they come across Dr. David Menard who is trying to figure out why the dead are coming back from life while avoiding the local legend that is believed to cause it all. Only his deadly experiments have made the island itself a home for the undead, making the trip that much more dangerous for everyone involved
“Zombie” is the kind of movie that legends are made of and when your director is Lucio Fulci, the legend should be a lot stronger than it is. The movie is something of a iconic horror film when you factor in that I’ve seen “Zombie” T-shirts in malls around the country and even a mainstream television commercial in the U.S. featuring the shark/zombie brawl. With that being said, there is even more of a reason that the film carries so much weight around the world with film fans. Considering it was made in a foreign country in the late 70s “Zombie” has managed to gain cult status due to the video boom of the 1980s, or at least that’s the case in the United States. One of the first people to write about Fulci and this film would be legendary horror film critic Chas Balun), who easily made the movie sound like one of the coolest things ever made. Little did I realize what he was talking about before I saw the movie, but after seeing it I completely understand why he went so crazy about it. The movie features a zombie fighting a shark, a woman having her eye disfigured by a zombie and a broken door, one of the greatest rising from the grave scenes of all time, and more blood and guts than you can shake your horror stick at, so what else could you need?
Although the movie isn’t quite your conventional horror film, it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. The fact that it’s low budget foreign filmmaking at it’s finest (complete with gorilla shots in New York City, no permit required ) it won’t be a movie that appeals to everyone, but this movie is custom made for hardcore horror fans. It’s approach is so in your face and borderline arrogant that it wallows in it’s own disgusting nature for gorehounds to embrace and nurture. That fact alone sets it apart from the majority of zombie films that we’ve ever seen come out of North America. Plus, it’s one of the few zombie films I can think of that came after Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” that mixes portions of the Romero lore (the zombie’s are flesh eaters) and incorporates it with the first horror film incarnations of the zombie (the old school black and white film voodoo zombies).
Now believe it or not we’re going to actually get to see “Zombie” all prettied up and ready to go for your HDTV with the new Blue Underground release. The movie plain and simple looks magnificent and you won’t believe how great some of the scenes look. For example I had no idea that the underwater scenes in “Zombie” were supposed to look so crisp and colorful, but I’m sure those freshly struck prints from the Jerry Gross Organization in the early 80s had the same charm that opening weekend. Not only does the movie look fantastic in HD but the features here literally don’t leave anything desired outside of remarks from Fulci himself (who’s unfortunately hasn’t been with us since his passing in 1996). The 2 disc special edition comes with an audio commentary with Ian MacCulloch, tv spots, radio spots, HD poster and still gallery, as well as an HD intro by Guillermo Del Toro. Did I also mention that is only on disc one? No, well it is and there’s a whole other disc of goodies for all of you “Zombie” fans out there. Disc two is basically interviews galore featuring the majority of the living cast members and crew from the film. First up is Zombie Wasteland, a 22 minute featurette about the “Zombie” reunion held in 2010 at the Cinema Wasteland convention (which I actually attended). It’s a fantastic look at that specific show and the reaction that these actors have toward their fans in the United States. There’s also interview featurettes with Zombie cast and crew such as Elisa Briganti, Dardano Sacchetti, Fabrizio De Angelis, Sergio Salvati, Walter Patriarca, Gianetto De Rossi, Maurizo Trani, Gino De Rossi, Fabio Frizzi, Guillermo Del Toro, and even Lucio Fulci’s daughter Antonella.
Overall I would say that this is the mother of all “Zombie” releases and we’ve certainly seen our fair share of them over the years. It has fantastic special features that are all in HD (a rarity regardless of what movie companies would like you to think) and the movie looks and sounds outstanding. It’s a fantastic package overall and is something that I think that the majority of film fans and horrorfiles will want to have in their collections. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Rating - ****
Blu-ray Rating - ****