Sunday, 15 January 2012

Horror Review: Zombie (1979)

A young woman and a British newspaper reporter travel to the Antilles Islands in order to locate the woman’s father. When they get there they find out that he has died of a mysterious disease. They also find an island cursed by voodoo, a nonsense-talking alcoholic doctor, and hoards of flesh-eating zombies.When the earth spits out the dead they will return to suck the blood from the living!

"Zombie" (also known as "Zombi 2", "Island of the Living Dead", "Zombie Island", "Zombie Flesh Eaters" and "Woodoo") Is easily one of the best-known films Italian Horror icon, Lucio Fulci. It was this video nasty that made him an icon to many.

"Zombie" is a fine film that starts very slow, but immediately becomes dangerous, bloody, and EXTREMELY gory. The make-up effects by Gianetto de Rossi are amazing and the direction by maestro Fulci creates unremitting vile monsters and a real sense of decay, horror and hopelessness.

Unfortunately for those of us in the UK, as quickly as it arrived, it disappeared from our video shelves, deemed a ‘video nasty’ as a result of the '1984 Video Recordings Act'. But luckily today you can get it restored, remastered, completely uncut and cleaned to perfection on DVD.

The film became infamous for two scenes in particular, aided by special effects. One features a zombie  fighting a shark underwater. The other infamous scene is where a character has her eye gouged out on a splintered piece of wood very slowly and painfully. This scene in particular was edited from many previous releases, but is intact on all three current DVD versions. The film is also remembered among fans for its creepy, synthesized opening theme.

My only problem with this film is the bad dubbing, it always seems to Happen with Fulci films. but don't let that put you off what truly is a classic of the genre. Fulci earned his legendary status, the self-proclaimed 'terrorist of the genres' does not hold back at all.

Many people say that "Zombie" is a "Dawn Of The Dead" rip-off, I absolutely disagree because other than the presence of the zombies there is nothing in common between the two. Did Romero's  "Dawn Of The Dead" have a Zombie VS Shark scene?! I don't think so.

I do not recommend "Zombie" for anyone who is queasy or easily scared. I also suggest you don't watch this if you're not a fan of zombie attack films, If you think Romero’s "Night of the Living Dead" does not qualify for “movie classic” status, then you should veer as far away from "Zombie" as possible. 

To see the trailer for "Zombie" click here

Miscellaneous fact about the film:

  • The film was written before Dawn of the Dead was released in Italy, as an action/adventure thriller with no link to George A. Romero's films. The opening and closing scenes (which take place in New York) were added to the script later when the producers wanted to cash-in on the success of Dawn. 
  • The make-up effects were done by renowned Italian Giannetto De Rossi. The make-up for the zombies was "caked" on in several stages and Lucio Fulci, the director, constantly referred to the extras as "walking flower pots". 
  • The newspaper office scene was filmed in a busy office building, and at one point the cast and crew inadvertently interrupted a meeting held by Rupert Murdoch, who angrily kicked them out. 
  • Several of the actors playing the zombies were actually brothers. They look so similar that some people have speculated that all the zombies were played by one man. 
  • As shown in trailers before the film was released, airline "barf bags" were handed out to theater moviegoers due to the unusually high amount of violence and gore for a horror film of that time. 
  • Enzo G. Castellari was asked to direct this film early in its development, but turned it down on the basis that he was not a fan of horror and primarily made action films. However, he suggested his friend Lucio Fulci as a possible replacement. 
  • Like many Italian horror films of the time, half the cast spoke only English and the other half only Italian. Many Italian films produced for international distribution filmed without sound and recorded several dialog tracks in different languages in the studio for later overdubbing. Because the actors are speaking a number of different languages (or some are speaking a non-native language phonetically), the dubbing in all versions of the film is not 100% synchronized. Ian McCulloch, Tisa Farrow, Olga Karlatos, and Stefania D'Amario were of the main English speaking cast, while Al Cliver, Auretta Gay, and Dakar were of the main Italian-speaking cast. 
  • Scriptwriter Dardano Sacchetti chose to take his name off the credits due to his father's death during preproduction. As a result of his loss, Sacchetti felt uncomfortable about being connected with a movie about the dead returning to a semblance of life and then being destroyed. 
  • René Cardona Jr. was originally cast to play the Underwater Zombie, however he got sick at the last minute and had to be replaced by Ramón Bravo, the shark's trainer. 
  • Hordes of the living dead stumble across the Brooklyn Bridge at the end of the film. Although a national state of emergency had been declared and the local radio station had been overrun by zombies, the traffic below still flows freely. This was due to budgetary constraints - there was not enough money to stop traffic on the bridge. 
  • While shooting on location in New York City, Captain Haggerty, who plays the large bald zombie who attacks the harbor patrol at the beginning of the film, walked into CBGB's (a tiny Bowery bar which was a flourishing punk rock venue at the time) in full zombie makeup complete with splattered fake blood and mud caked all over his face and body. Due to the outrageous punk styles in those days of the other bar patrons, he was barely noticed. Even the bartender never looked twice at him. 
  • When first submitted to the BBFC in 1980, the movie was passed with an X rating with 1 minute, 46 seconds cut. Then, with the Video Recordings Act, it was banned in 1984 as a "video nasty". It was removed from the DPP list, and the original cinema release was re-rated in 1992 with an 18 rating. In 1999, it was once again re-rated, with only 23 seconds of cuts for an 18 rating. Finally, it was passed uncut with an 18 rating in 2005, with a 91 minute run time. 
  • According to the production crew interviewed for the Shriek Show DVD, scenes were shot of the zombies coming out of the water in New York. They never made it into the final edit though. 
  • According to Ian McCulloch on the DVD commentary, the harbor patrol cops were actually off-duty policemen. The advantage was that no costumes were required as they brought their own uniforms. 
  • Despite being called "Zombi 2", the film is not a sequel to anything. When Dawn of the Dead was released under the title "Zombi" in Italy, this film was retitled "Zombi 2" to cash in on the success of the American film.

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