Showing posts with label 1980. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1980. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Review: "THE FINAL COUNTDOWN" is Still Timeless Entertainment

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 37 of 2023 (No. 1926) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Final Countdown (1980)
Running time:  103 minutes (1 hour, 43 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  Don Taylor
WRITERS:  David Ambrose & Gerry Davis and Thomas Hunter & Peter Powell; from a story by Thomas Hunter & Peter Powell and David Ambrose
PRODUCERS:  Peter Vincent Douglas
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Vincent J. Kemper (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Robert K. Lambert
COMPOSER: John Scott


Starring:  Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Katharine Ross, James Farentino, Ron O'Neal, Charles Durning, Victor Mohica, Soon-Teck Oh, and Alvin Ing

The Final Countdown is a 1980 science fiction war film from director Don Taylor.  The film features an ensemble cast starring such Hollywood legends and icons as Kirk Douglas, Charles Durning, and Martin Sheen.  The film focuses on the crew of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that is tossed back in time to the year 1941 near Hawaii, just a day before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Final Countdown opens in 1980.  The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Nimitz, departs Naval Station Pearl Harbor for naval exercises in the mid-Pacific Ocean.  It is commanded by Captain Matt Yelland (Kirk Douglas).  The ship also takes on a civilian observer, Warren Lasky (Martin Sheen), a systems analyst for Tideman Industries.  Lasky is working as an efficiency expert for the U.S. Defense Department on the orders of his reclusive employer, Richard Tideman.

Once at sea, the Nimitz encounters a mysterious, electrically-charged storm that eventually becomes a vortex.  While the ship passes through the mystery storm, its radar and other equipment become unresponsive, and the crew falls into agony.  After the event, Capt. Yelland and the crew are initially unsure of what has happened to them.  They also discover that they have lost radio contact with U.S. Pacific Fleet Command at Pearl Harbor.

Yelland wonders if there has been a nuclear strike on Hawaii, but soon Lasky and Commander, Air Group Richard T. Owens (James Farentino) begin to suspect that they been tossed back in time to December 6, 1941.  That is one day before “a day which will live in infamy,” December 7, 1941 – the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Now, comes the big questions.  By itself, the Nimitz has the aircraft power to destroy the Japanese fleet.  So should Yelland launch that air power and change history by stopping the attack on Pearl Harbor?

The Final Countdown is one of my all-time favorite films.  I have a soft spot for time-travel movies, especially such films as Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), and of course, The Terminator (1984) and its sequels.

In spite of my intense love for this film – yes, I said intense – I can see its flaws.  I think The Final Countdown's concept would work better as a television miniseries or even as an ongoing series.  Its relatively short runtime is not enough time for the film to really be indulgent in revealing its most important character, the U.S.S. Nimitz.  Director Don Taylor gives us several scenes of the planes, jets, fighter aircraft, etc., but every scene of the ship's interior makes it obvious that the film needs to take a deeper dive into the bowels of the Nimitz.  All that military hardware demands more screen time, or at least, I'm the one demanding more of it.

Most of all, the time travel angle of the story seems to come and go so fast, and the screenplay does not really grapple with what would happen if Captain Yelland and his crew inserted themselves into the attack on Pearl Harbor.  It glosses over that and over the many points of view that would result from the kind of command structure that a ship like the Nimitz has.

The wild card characters are Senator Samuel S. Chapman (Charles Durning) and his secretary, Laurel Scott (Katharine Ross).  Their appearance in the narrative is a considerable development and creates conflict and complications in the decisions that the captain and crew of the Nimitz will make.  Time constraints mean that the film doesn't really deal with these two characters.

I spotted so many cracks in this recent viewing of The Final Countdown, I still really love this film.  I enjoyed seeing some of my favorite movies stars, such as Kirk Douglas (Out of the Past), Martin Sheen, and Charles Durning (To Be or Not to Be) in roles that called upon their usual film personalities.  I don't think I remembered that Ron O'Neal (Super Fly, 1972) was in this film, but he gets his chance to emote and overact.  I have seen this film at least three times, and this was the first time that James Farentino;s presence also registered with me.

Yes, The Final Countdown seems to be missing at least another half-hour of story, but the first time I saw it, when I was a teenager, it blew my mind.  I saw it again years later, and I was surprised to find that I still loved it.  I just watched The Final Countdown again, and guess what?  I still love it, even adore it.  That's why I'm being generous with the grade I'm giving The Final Countdown.  I need a Blu-ray or DVD copy.

8 of 10
★★★★ out of 4 stars

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for syndication rights and fees.



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Friday, September 13, 2013

Review: Original "Friday the 13th" Movie Surprisingly Good

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 62 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

Friday the 13th (1980)
Running time:  95 minutes (1 hour, 35 minutes)
PRODUCER/DIRECTOR:  Sean S. Cunningham
WRITERS:  Victor Miller; from a story by Sean S. Cunningham and Victor Miller
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Barry Abrams (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Bill Freda
COMPOSER:  Harry Manfredini


Starring:  Adrienne King, Jeannine Taylor, Robbi Morgan, Kevin Bacon, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartram, Mark Nelson, Peter Bouwer, Rex Everhart, Ronn Carroll, Ron Millkie, Walt Gorney, and Betsy Palmer

Friday the 13th is a 1980 slasher horror film from producer-director, Sean S. Cunningham.  It was the first movie in what is, as of this writing, a 12-film franchise, which includes a 2009 reboot of the franchise and a crossover film with another horror franchise, 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason.  The first Friday the 13th focuses on young camp counselors that are being stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant, as they try to reopen a summer camp with a troubled history.

Friday the 13th opens one night in 1958 at Camp Crystal Lake, where two young camp counselors are savagely murdered.  The story jumps to Friday, June 13, 1979.  Steve Christy (Peter Bouwer), son of the camp’s original owners, is trying to reopen Camp Crystal Lake.  Seven young camp counselors are arriving early to help Steve repair the camp site before it reopens.

Annie (Robbi Morgan), one of the early arrivals, finds that the town is not exactly happy about the idea of Steve reopening the camp, which has been the site of murders, fires, and water poisonings.  In fact, some of the locals specifically try to warn Annie to leave.  As this Friday the 13th turns to evening, the counselors are not aware that someone is watching and waiting and also preparing to kill them one by one.

Recently, I watched, for the first time, Friday the 13th in its entirety, and I liked it more than I ever thought I would.  It was clearly influenced by John Carpenter’s classic, 1978 slasher film, Halloween, but it is different.  I find Friday the 13th to be both moody and matter-of-fact about the murders committed in the film.  It is almost as if the filmmakers and storytellers (which include screenwriter Ron Kurz, who did not receive an onscreen credit) are saying to us that while sad, the death in this movie has to be.  This movie is less about pandering to the audience than about depicting a tragedy that has to be.

The film score for Friday the 13th, composed by Harry Manfredini, is probably the most important creative element in making this movie a chiller and thriller.  Manfredini seems to use elements from John Williams’ musical score for Jaws (1975) and Bernard Herrmann’s for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960).  If talent borrows and genius steals, it was a genius move on Manfredini’s part to emulate the best musical cues from Jaws and Psycho, strains of music that are perfect for creating an atmosphere of fear and impending doom in Friday the 13th.

After 33 years, anyone familiar with the Friday the 13th franchise knows the identity of the killer in the original movie, but I still will not reveal the identity.  I think one of the things that make the original movie stand out from both its sequels and other horror films is who and what the killer is.  Of note, acclaimed actor Kevin Bacon has one of his earliest screen roles in Friday the 13th, and that includes a rather explicit sex scene, in which his sex partner claws his buttocks.  Including the fact that this is a horror movie classic, bare Bacon is as good a reason as any to see Friday the 13th.

Seriously, I like this movie’s scrappy nature.  There is something about its awkward, not-well made spirit that actually makes the movie seem... well, well-made.  Friday the 13th has a low-budget aesthetic that surprisingly appeals to me, and in terms of photography, there are a few moments that are captivating.  In fact, some of this movie’s scenes and best moments are as effective as the best moments found in film thrillers that are much more admired.

7 of 10

1981 Razzie Awards:  2 nominations: “Worst Picture” (Sean S. Cunningham) and “Worst Supporting Actress” (Betsy Palmer)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Review: Christopher Reeve Still Shines in "Superman II"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 39 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

Superman II (1980)
Running time: 127 minutes (2 hours, 7 minutes)
DIRECTOR: Richard Lester
WRITERS: Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman; from a story by Mario Puzo (based upon the characters and situations created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster)
PRODUCER: Pierre Spengler
CINEMATOGRAPHERS: Geoffrey Unsworth and Bob Paynter
EDITOR: John Victor-Smith
COMPOSER: Ken Thorne

SUPERHERO/ACTION/DRAMA with elements of comedy and sci-fi

Starring: Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Terrence Stamp, Sarah Douglas, Jack O’Halloran, Valerie Perrine, Leueen Willoughby, Clifton James, E.G. Marshall, Marc McClure, and Susannah York

The subject of this movie review is Superman II, a 1980 superhero drama and action film from director Richard Lester. This movie is based on the DC Comics character, Superman, created by comic book writer Jerry Siegel and comic book artist Joe Shuster. Superman II is also a direct sequel to the 1978 film, Superman: The Movie.

There was some controversy surrounding Superman II upon its release. It was originally being film simultaneously with Superman: The Movie by director Richard Donner. Donner ended up being fired by the Alexander and Ilya Salkind, who controlled the Superman film franchise at the time. Some of the film Donner shot for Superman II was apparently re-shot and some of it reused. Donner’s replacement, Richard Lester, is credited as the director of Superman II. Screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz is credited as a “creative consultant” for his contributions to the screenplay for Superman II.

Putting that aside, is Superman II a good movie? When I first saw Superman II, I considered it to be a better movie than Superman: The Movie. I no longer think so, but more on that later.

Superman II opens by going back in time to Superman’s birth planet, Krypton, prior to its destruction. There, the criminals: General Zod (Terence Stamp) and his followers, Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O'Halloran), are sentenced by Jor-El (Superman’s Kryptonian father) to banishment into the Phantom Zone for insurrection and other crimes. After traveling through the galaxy for many years, the Phantom Zone, represented as a spinning, picture frame-like segment of space, is shattered near Earth by the detonation of a hydrogen bomb.

Meanwhile, Daily Planet reporters, Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) and Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve), who is Superman, leave Metropolis for an undercover story. In Niagara Falls, Lois and Clark pretend to be a married couple, which brings them closer, physically and emotionally, than they usually are. Suddenly, Lois thinks she knows Superman’s secret identity. That leads Clark to make a monumental decision just when Earth most needs Superman.

I once told a friend that I preferred Superman II over Superman: The Movie and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn over Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He responded that people liked the sequels because they were “kick-ass.” That is true, to an extent, but Star Trek II is better than the first Trek film.

At the time I first saw it, I did like the fight scenes in Superman II, but there were many other elements that caught my attention. When I saw Superman II in a theatre, there was a woman a few rows in front of me who yelled, “Superman had sex,” when the film cutaway to a scene with Lois and Clark in bed, apparently post-coitus. I think what I liked about Superman II was that it confronted me with things I thought of has wrong in relation to Superman, especially Superman having sex with Lois, which also intrigued me. However, as a film critic said at the time of the film’s initial release, Superman and Lois should not have actual physical sex, because their version of sex was Superman carrying Lois in his arms as they fly over Metropolis.

Beside the sex, I found General Zod and company to be good villains, and, in a sense, they were the beginning of a series of things that endangered all that was great and good about Superman for me. They attacked the civilians that Superman protected, were disrespectful of the President of the United States of America, and they invaded Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. All these conflicts, dilemmas, and obstacles made for an exciting movie.

Years later, I find Superman II’s occasional campy moments and scenes a bit annoying, although its mostly those featuring Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman). There is quite a bit to like about this movie, but the main reason to like this is the late Christopher Reeve. Here, he is eternally youthful. As Clark Kent, he is humble and even sly. As Superman, Reeve is both a champion and a man for seasons.

Now, I think Superman: The Movie is the better film and a blueprint for what a superhero movie can be. Still, Superman II is memorable.

6 of 10

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Review: Robert DeNiro is Legendary in "Raging Bull" (Happy B'day, Martin Scorsese)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 170 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Raging Bull (1980)
Black & White (with some color)
Running time: 129 minutes (2 hours, nine minutes)
DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese
WRITERS: Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin (based upon the books by Jake La Motta, Joseph Carter & Peter Savage)
PRODUCER: Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler
EDITOR: Thelma Schoonmaker
Academy Award winner


Starring: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent, Nicholas Colasanto, Theresa Saldana, Mario Gallo, Frank Adonis, Joseph Bono, Frank Topham, Johnny Barnes, and Jimmy Lennon, Sr.

In 1980 and 81, Robert De Niro won several acting awards including the Oscar® for Best Actor in a Leading Role” for his portrayal of the boxer Jake La Motta in Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull. Filmed in black and white, the movie harks back to classic Hollywood film noir and the black and white boxing telecasts Scorsese and cinematographer Michael Chapman grew up watching, “Friday Night Fights.” The film covers La Motta’s struggle to earn a middleweight title shot (which he would win) to his downfall as a middleweight boxing champion and the start of his career as a night club act when he middle-aged and overweight.

It took awhile for me to warm up to this film because all of the characters are so unlikable, even the ones who occasionally earn sympathy like La Motta’s wife Vickie (Cathy Moriarty in an Oscar® nominated supporting role) and his brother, Joey (Joe Pesci, in the film’s other Oscar® nominated supporting role). La Motta as a boxer was physically tough, but he was allegedly emotionally self-destructive, and hard headed i.e. mega stubborn. He severely physically and emotionally abused Vickie and Joey, and combined with his unreasonableness, it is easy to see why he was not liked, although he was and is respected as a boxer.

De Niro’s turn as La Motta is considered one of the top acting performances in the history of American and world cinema. He manages to make La Motta a total asshole, jerk, bully, maniac, psycho, but beneath all that is a man worthy of sympathy. La Motta is proud and stubborn, and guides his life by his own strict code of total machismo, and although he is (in the film) a paranoid chauvinist, he is the way he is because that’s how he survives. Being the man he is gets him to the top when everything and almost everyone works against him. That De Niro can make this man worthy of derision and admiration; that he can take a fictional version of a real person and make both the real and surreal worthy of respect is a work of art on De Niro’s part.

Scorsese has always been upset that Raging Bull did not win the Academy Award for Best Film, and many critics and film fans are still angry that Scorsese lost Best Director (to Robert Redford, nonetheless), Raging Bull is more the work of De Niro’s acting than it is of what Scorsese and the rest of the filmmakers (including editor Thelma Schoonmaker who also won an Oscar®) did. Don’t get me wrong because this is a very good film, and Scorcese put boxing on film like no one ever had and probably will ever again. However, the only thing great about Raging Bull is De Niro. Redford deserved his acclaim that year.

7 of 10

1981 Academy Awards: 2 wins: “Best Actor in a Leading Role” (Robert De Niro) and “Best Film Editing” (Thelma Schoonmaker); 6 nominations: “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” (Joe Pesci) and “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” (Cathy Moriarty), “Best Cinematography” (Michael Chapman), “Best Director” (Martin Scorsese), “Best Picture” (Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff), and “Best Sound” (Donald O. Mitchell, Bill Nicholson, David J. Kimball, and Les Lazarowitz)

1982 BAFTA Awards: 2 wins: “Best Editing” (Thelma Schoonmaker) and “Most Outstanding Newcomer to Leading Film Roles” (Joe Pesci); 2 nominations: “Best Actor” (Robert De Niro) and “Most Outstanding Newcomer to Leading Film Roles” (Cathy Moriarty)

1981 Golden Globes, USA: 1 win: “Best Motion Picture Actor – Drama” (Robert De Niro); 6 nominations: “Best Director - Motion Picture” (Martin Scorsese), “Best Motion Picture – Drama,” “Best Motion Picture Actor in a Supporting Role” (Joe Pesci), “Best Motion Picture Actress in a Supporting Role” (Cathy Moriarty), “Best Screenplay - Motion Picture” (Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin), and “New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture – Female” (Cathy Moriarty)

1990 National Film Preservation Board, USA: "National Film Registry”


Monday, January 16, 2012

Review: I Could Watch "The Fog" Forever (Happy B'day, John Carpenter)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 136 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980)
Running time: 89 minutes (1 hour, 29 minutes)
WRITERS: Debra Hill and John Carpenter
PRODUCER: Debra Hill
EDITORS: Charles Bornstein and Tommy Lee Wallace


Starring: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, John Houseman, Tom Atkins, James Canning, Charles Cyphers, Nancy Kyes, and Darrow Igus

The Fog is a 1980 horror film from director John Carpenter. A ghostly revenge tale, The Fog takes place in town about to be besieged by a strange, glowing fog during its centennial celebration. This film was also remade in 2005.

The small seacoast town of Antonio Bay is celebrating its Centenary, but it doesn’t know that doom is approaching in the form of a strange fog that hides the forms of long-dead denizens of the sea. One hundred years prior, six of the town’s founding fathers reneged on a bargain with a ship’s captain; now, the captain has returned from the deep with his crew to avenge themselves on the descendants. A local disc jockey (Adrienne Barbeau), a sexy drifter (Jamie Lee Curtis), and a fisherman (Tom Atkins) are all that stand between Antonio Bay and ghostly doom.

John Carpenter’s The Fog is a moody, little gem of a horror flick. Carpenter mixed the campfire tale and pulp nonsense with his own unique brand of imaginative madness and created an enduring scary movie. Although the characters are flat and the SFX suspect, the overall package in quite entertaining. I’ve seen this several times, and it always a spine-tingling tale of terror for me. The Fog is no more flawed that the standard horror film, but one glaring weakness is that the end is a bit of a letdown. Still, the film is a nice, creepy ghost story though it lacks the pyrotechnics audiences have come to expect from horror/fantasy films. But it does one thing very well. Like the best ghost stories, it keeps you guessing – wondering what was real or imagined and wondering just when, not if, the ghosts will return.

7 of 10


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review: "The Empire Strikes Back" is Still the Best Film of 1980

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 81 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Running time: 124 minutes (2 hours, 4 minutes)
DIRECTOR: Irvin Kershner
WRITERS: Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan (from a story by George Lucas)
PRODUCER: Gary Kurtz
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Suschitzky (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Paul Hirsch
COMPOSER: John Williams
Academy Award winner

/THRILLER with elements of romance

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz, Alec Guinness, Jeremy Bulloch, Clive Revell, Denis Lawson, Jason Wingreen (voice) and James Earl Jones (voice)

The Empire Strikes Back is a 1981 epic science fiction film and sequel to Star Wars (1977). The film continues the Star Wars saga and the adventures of Luke Skywalker, as the hero who destroyed the Death Star moves closer to his destiny.

After imperial forces destroy the rebel base on the ice planet Hoth, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) leaves his associates to begin his Jedi training with the wizened and tiny Jedi master Yoda (Frank Oz). Meanwhile, Darth Vader (David Prowse with James Earl Jones voice) pursues Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), et al across space to capture them and use them as his bait for trap Skywalker, with whom he’s become obsessed.

Seeking safe refuge, Solo takes his friends to the Cloud City of Bespin, a mining operation run by a rival and “old friend,” Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams). But Cloud City becomes the place where friends unite and face tragedy and where young Skywalker learns a secret too horrible to believe and almost too terrible to false.

Of the three original Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back is the best film in terms of quality of filmmaking. The writing, acting, and directing are much better, and director Irvin Kershner (who is otherwise known for his work directing TV series and movies) emphasizes the drama, whereas Star Wars creator George Lucas focused on making the original film more of a fun and rollicking movie in the tradition of the old movie serials. While Kershner’s film did not have the element of surprise that Lucas’ had, his movie (although he obviously had much guidance from Lucas) is better than Lucas’ in some aspects. It’s a darker film, but is still enthralling with its razor’s edge of tension. The thrills are still there, but The Empire Strikes Back also has an atmosphere of dread hanging over it, as if bad things simply must happen to the protagonists.

It’s simply a good film, and virtually anyone who likes, or at least, doesn’t mind watching sci-fi, fantasy, or space opera films will like this. But everything aside, while the film’s subject matter may seem frivolous, the filmmakers present it in such a fashion that this is truly one of the best-made films and most fun to watch movies of the late 20th Century. I’d recommend it and sing its praises even through the roar of a thousand of dissenting voices.

10 of 10

1981 Academy Awards: 2 wins: “Best Sound” (Bill Varney, Steve Maslow, Gregg Landaker, and Peter Sutton) and “Special Achievement Award” (Brian Johnson, Richard Edlund, Dennis Muren, and Bruce Nicholson for visual effects); 2 nominations: “Best Art Direction-Set Decoration” (Norman Reynolds, Leslie Dilley, Harry Lange, Alan Tomkins, and Michael Ford) and “Best Music, Original Score” (John Williams)

1981 BAFTA Awards: 1 win: “Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music” (John Williams); 2 nominations: “Best Production Design/Art Direction” (Norman Reynolds) and “Best Sound” (Peter Sutton, Ben Burtt, and Bill Varney)

1981 Golden Globes: 1 nomination: “Best Original Score - Motion Picture” (John Williams)



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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