Movie Reviews 179 – Zombie (1979)

zombi_2While George Romero‘s 1968 classic “Night of the Living Dead” may be the granddaddy of the modern Zombie movie, Lucio Fulci’s “Zombie” ( A.K.A. “Zombi 2”, A.K.A. “Zombie 2: The Dead are Among Us”, A.K.A “Zombie Flesh Eaters”, and finally A.K.A “Woodoo”) is not far behind in terms of influence and setting out the modern lore. Well once you remember all those titles for that one film. If you’re wondering why some of the titles have a ‘2” in them when the film is not a sequel to anything, you’re not alone. Apparently “Night of the Living Dead” was released in Europe as “Zombi” as Fulci’s film was already underway so the producers just tagged it “Zombie 2” in some markets to take advantage of NotLD’s success.

When a mysterious boat is found drifting in the NY harbor a harbour patrol crew investigates only to be attacked by a zombie hidden in the cabin. The boat belongs to a missing scientist last known to have been on the remote island of Matul in the Antilles. The scientist’s daughter Anne (Tisa Farrow) and reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch) find a cryptic note on the boat and set out to find her father. Arriving in the islands, they team up with another couple, Brian and Susan, who have a yacht that agree to take them to Matul. Once they arrive on Matul they meet Dr. Menard (Richard Johnson) and find out that they are in the middle of some epidemic related to research done by Anne’s father. The epidemic is of course a growing horde of zombies slowly taking over the island.

The movie has a number of memorable graphic scenes, in particular setting the trend of using twitching maggots and crawling bugs coming out of various zombie orifices, now pretty much a staple for any tenable zombie. During the journey to Matul on the yacht, Susan decides to take a skinny dip in ocean where she has an memorable encounter with both shark and then an underwater zombie. Talk about bad luck. The shark is laughable (I guess they were still going afters the “Jaws” crowd) but the underwater zombie is pretty cool. There is an entire back-story with Dr. Menards wife Paola (Olga Karlatos) being cooped up in their house that ends up with an eye catching scene. Well eye spiking would be more accurate. As the makes it’s way to the jungle they also stumble upon an ancient Spanish Conquistador cemetery where the soldiers are just beginning to rouse from their graves. The zombie makeup and effects are phenomenal and the final battle for the island is awesome. Last but not least is the 70’s organ score by Fabio Frizzi. It’s no Goblin score, but good enough to get you in the right mood.

Being another one of the movies on the celebrated “Video Nasties” list banned in England, star McCulloch did not get to see the movie himself until many years later when the DVD was finally released. Also look for Lucio Fulci himself in a cameo (uncredited) as the newspaper editor. Another incidental (yet prophetic) detail of this movie is the fact that both the opening and closing scenes prominently feature the twin towers.

My one beef while watching the movie was the piss poor video transfer and terribly muddled sound on my Anchor Bay DVD. But from a must see point of view, even this will suffice, but just barely. You can find better looking DVD as it was remastered after the Anchor Bay release. But you’ll have to memorize the multiple titles I listed as the better DVDs use various titles. But do watch this movie!

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One Response to “Movie Reviews 179 – Zombie (1979)”

  1. thycriticman Says:

    I love the poster to this film! This is one that I’ve never actually seen but have heard of multiple times over the years! Your description has caught my interest though! A zombie plus a shark on the prowl? Laughable or not, that sounds like a scene worth watching! Shame that a good copy may be hard to track down!

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