Horror Fan: Zombie Flesh Eaters Review
Zombie Flesh Eaters (Zombi 2)
Directed by Italian horror legend Lucio Fulci, this was one of the so-called video nasties which had the BBFC and Daily Mail up in arms when suddenly video burst onto the scene and people could watch films on their TV at home, uncut and uncertified! The moral guardians came out in force, worried that 13 and 14 year olds could now see X-Rated gorefests and be adversely affected by it. I first saw this in the early 80s as an impressionable teenager and I haven't tried eating anyone yet, although it did scare me witless and gave me nightmares at the time! It is strange though how different yet how similar it seems watching it 30 years on.
Yes, the blood and gore factor remains high and quite shocking in places, especially the eye-piercing scene which is there in full in the Stonevision DVD that I have but now I can appreciate how awful and wooden most (all?) of the acting and dialogue is, probably not helped by half the cast only being able to speak English and the other half Italian. That said, you are not going to watch a film with such a title expecting to see academy award performances.
The story is largely an excuse for some exceptionally gruesome effects, beginning very early in the film - no gradual build up of tension here, just straight into the gore. Basically a doctor is conducting various experiments on a Caribbean island and when a boat suddenly arrives in New York resembling the Mary Celeste, the boat owner's daughter sets about trying to locate said missing father. Helped by a reporter, they find two Americans on holiday who agree to help them find the island with their boat - cue a very famous underwater scene involving a shark and a zombie!
When they eventually find the island, it soon becomes apparent that this is not your ordinary, average luxury retreat as the dead rise from their graves and take liberal chunks out of any human who happen to be in their way. In fairness, the build up to some of the more graphic attacks is tense, with the music adding to the tension before you are clobbered with waves of zombie attacks. You may jump at times, you almost certainly will squirm - both at the acting and the effects - and you will be amazed at just how thick the actors are, almost lining up to be lunch.
Whereas modern day living-deads tend to have the speed of Usain Bolt, back in the 70s and 80s, they were lumbering, shuffling creatures and you wonder just how they managed to catch out so many living humans when their grunting and groaning could be heard from a distance. Needless to say the ending is very downbeat and set the scene for the likes of Romero's Dawn of the Dead which was realised, ironically, a year before this, but the legend goes that they tagged on a American based end scene to take advantage of the success of Dawn.
Today's "Hostel" and "Saw" generation will probably wonder what all the fuss was about but for us who grew up in the height of the `nasties` era, films like these will always hold a special nostalgic place in the heart. There are apparently many different versions of this on DVD (and video if you still own such a beast) but the version I have is as intact as I have seen with most, if not all, of the gore uncut and it remains entertaining if you ignore the acting and the plot holes that you could drive a double decker bus through.
MEMORABLE SCENE: The aforemention eye-piercing scene, aided with a chilling build up of tension before a superbly executed few seconds which WILL make you squirm.
Film viewed and reviewed on December 11th 2010
- Zombie (1979) - IMDb
Directed by Lucio Fulci. With Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver.