10/21/08

The Halloween Top 13: Number 11: Zombi 2

Number 11 is upon us as Halloween draws ever near. After surviving Mrs. Voorhees and having a laugh with some monsters, it's time to get down to the business of gore. When you positively, absolutely have to make your wife feel like she might puke, get some Italian horror and accept no substitutes. When it comes to the horror icons of the boot, some may love Argento, some may love Bava, and some may love Martino, but for my dollar bill, give me some Fulci any day. And for day 11 that's just what we've got. So let's take those one's and add them together; then throw in a head of zombie fun, and what have you got....

Zombi 2 (1979) starring Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver, Auretta Gay, and Olga Karlatos. Directed by Lucio Fulci.

Synopsis

When a mysterious boat shows up in the New York harbor, the coast guard naturally investigates. (If they usually fly a French flag while doing it, I can't speak to.) Unfortunately for these two patrolmen, the ship has drifted up to New York all the way from the Caribbean, and it's passengers are a couple of very hungry zombies. One of the patrolmen becomes a snack, but the other manages to fend the zombie off by shooting it until it plops into the harbor. What a great idea, right?

Peter West (McCulloch) is assigned to the story by his editor (played in a short cameo by Fulci himself), and the reporter takes a trip down to the docks to snoop around. That's where he meets Anne, the daughter of the boat's owner. They sneak aboard the ship and find a note from Anne's father detailing the strange disease he has come down with on the island of Matool.
The pair take a trip to the Caribbean to try and find Anne's father, and they charter a boat captained by Brian Hull (Cliver) and his girl Susan Barrett (Gay). They head out for the island, but stop along the way so that Susan can do a bit of topless scuba diving. After narrowly avoiding an attack from a tiger shark, she tussles with an underwater zombie. Seeing as it has lost its first choice of meal the zombie goes after whatever is closest, which is naturally the shark, but more on that later.

When they finally reach the island, they meet the local doctor David Menard (Johnson) who has been studying the secrets of the island's living dead. Menard lives on the island with his unwilling wife, Paola (Karlatos), who is very afraid to still be on the island and has to relax by taking long showers in full view of a strategically placed mirror. The good doctor sends the visitors to his island house to check on his wife, but by the time they arrive she has already become zombie food.
Well, that is; after an extended splinter to the eye scene that ranks up there with the best of eye trauma.

The foursome make a move to escape the island, but as they do, the zombie population explodes. Every time they stop to rest the earth belches up more long dead conquistadors or swarms of the shuffling deceased file though the jungles toward them. Finally it's all down to a last stand in Dr. Menard's hospital/old church, and they fight to escape the island before all is lost.

Film Facts
--Zombi 2 was originally titled Zombie, but the name was changed because 1) there was another film of that name coming out soon. AND/OR 2) to tie in as a "sequel" to Zombi, as Argento's cut of Dawn of the Dead was known in Italy.

--The script for Zombi 2 was completed before Dawn of the Dead and thus had nothing to do with the other movie per se, but to make a connection Fulci tacked on the New York scenes at the first and last of the film.
--The shark in the Zombie vs. Shark scene appears toothless and was reportedly fed meat full of sedatives before filming. The actor slated to play the shark fighter got ill the day of shooting, and the shark's trainer stepped into the role.

--Zombi 2 was also known as Woodoo in Germany, Island of the Living Dead in parts of Europe, and Zombie Flesh Eaters in the UK where it was rated X upon release and in 1984 labeled one of the Video Nasties.

Why Do I Love It?

Can I just say Zombie vs. Shark and leave it at that? No, I suppose that wont do, but it is a large reason why. I mean it opens up so many great questions. The chief of which in my mind is did that shark become a zombie-shark? The world may never know, but it's a damn fine question. There's plenty more here to like though. The eye/splinter scene is an excellent piece of film, and knows no rival save for the eye scene from Thriller. I also think that, although this is Fulci's first stab at horror, he creates atmosphere very nicely, and like most of the Italian genre directors knew what to do with the camera. Some of the shots of the tropical locales are gorgeous, and once they are paralleled with the hideousness of makeup artist Giannetto De Rossi's zombies, the movie really takes off. Also I have to give a special nod to the opening theme of the movie, in all it's synthy glory it really kicks the movie off with the right tone. To me this is a film that no horror buff should be without, and especially the zombie fans out there. After all, even in the tropics on Halloween, the dead roam in the night.
Bug Rating


Today's list comes from Ghidorah from Acheter et entretenir sa tron├žonneuse

#1 Halloween- of course.. The viewer is free to choose the original Carpenter Version or the Rob Zombie remake.

#2 Night of the living Dead- the original Romero one because it's a classic and it needs to be seen at least once a year. October 31 is the perfect time. If the happy viewer can get a hold of the digitally colorized version, it's even better.

#3 The Beyond- Although it make absolutely no sense, this movie is one of the creepiest things ever filmed. Halloween is the night for creepy stuff.

#4 Necromantic- Because at Halloween, everyone wants to watch a horror movie, even those who otherwise say they don't like horror. So it's the perfect to shown them trashy things and look, with joy, at their horrified faces!

#5 The Nightmare before Christmas- Well, just because it's Halloween and you need to have all those %&*#! songs in your head for a month... And you need to relax a bit after viewing the four preceding ones (you'll watch all 5 in row this day right?)

Thanks Ghidorah for that great list, and what a happy coincidence you have some Fulci on there with The Beyond. I constantly enjoy the movies Ghidorah reviews over at his blog, Acheter et entretenir sa tron├žonneuse (How To Buy and Maintain A Chainsaw), and don't fear folks. Thanks to the magic of the internet, it can translate his French into an English type substance which we can all enjoy so head on over and give him a look see.

7 comments:

  1. Very fun review for a classic Zombie flick. I'll be rewatching it sometime in the next two weeks myself.

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  2. Thanks Rev. This is one flick I never get tired of. I can revisit it time and time again.

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  3. Great Review for a Great Movie!

    You are correct in the fact that the eye scene in this movie has no equal except, perhaps, that of Thriller - both are disturbing! :-)

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  4. I have this on my Netflix list and now that I've heard about the shark scene, I'll have to move it up to the top:)

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  5. My old vhs copy of this film is just titled Zombie. I have watched it sooo many times that I will soon have to retire it and go for the dvd. Great Great film.

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  6. I LOVE this movie, mainly for the Zombie vs. Shark and eye poke scenes alone. Italian horror is always an acquired taste, but Fulci rules them all. Great review for a great film. I plan on reviewing this one myself before the year is out after I write my comparison review of both versions of DAWN OF THE DEAD next month.

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  7. the sneering (homo-phobic) snobNovember 15, 2008 at 12:24 PM

    what i`ve always liked most about this movie is its title "ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS", i think its possibly the most incredibly descriptive title in the entire history of film making.

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