Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Flesh Eaters of Lucio Fulci's "Zombie" Still Scary

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 168 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Zombi 2 (1979)
Zombie (1980) – U.S. release
Running time: 91 minutes (1 hour, 31 minutes)
MPAA – R for horror violence/gore and nudity
DIRECTOR: Lucio Fulci
WRITER: Elisa Briganti (Dardano Sacchetti, uncredited)
PRODUCERS: Fabrizio De Angelis and Ugo Tucci
EDITOR: Vincenzo Tomassi


Starring: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver, Auretta Gay, Stefania D’Amario, Olga Karlatos, Ugo Bologna, and Dakkar

The Italian film, Zombi 2, was made to capitalize on George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978), which was titled Zombi for its Italian release. The filmmakers tried to make Zombi 2 kind of a sequel to Romero’s DOTD, which is apparently why Zombi 2’s opening and closing scenes are set in New York City.

A flesh hungry ghoul murders a New York harbor patrolman aboard an abandoned yacht. Anne (Tisa Farrow), the daughter of the yacht’s missing owner, teams up (reluctantly, at first) with newspaper reporter, Peter West (Ian McCulloch), for a private investigation into Anne’s father’s whereabouts. They eventually travel to a small Caribbean island where the dead apparently refuse to stay dead, and join up with a vacationing couple for the trip to the island.

Dr. David Menard (Richard Johnson), who runs an island hospital out of an abandoned church, is allegedly trying to find a scientific cause for why the dead walk. His wife believes Dr. Menard’s experiments are the cause for the walking dead. The natives (whom we never see) apparently believe that the zombies are the result of a voodoo curse wrought by an unseen voodoo priest somewhere in the island’s interior. Either way, Anne, Peter, and a couple who helps them get to the island must fight the ever-increasing number of blood thirsty zombies if they are to survive the zombies.

Zombie (its American release title) is a creepy and chilling (especially at the end) old-fashioned zombie movie that is as good as anything outside Romero’s original trilogy. It features some of the best zombie makeup I’ve ever seen, and these zombies, made up to look as if they were way into a state of decay, or probably the scariest looking zombies you’ll see on screen. The film’s problems, however, are major. The characters are ciphers; we don’t know much about them or get to know them, and it’s hard to sympathize with them beyond hoping that they don’t become zombie snacks. The plot is simple, but the script is a clumsy attempt to get from one scary scene to the next. Still, I recommend this to fans of zombie movies and horror films in general because the creature makeup and costumes make these zombies convincing ghouls and this film an effective fright flick.

5 of 10

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