ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST 1980
'Zombie Holocaust' is an Italian exploitation movie, part zombie movie part jungle cannibal movie; and if you felt that those two genres would not mix well together then you would be wrong, for some reason the mixture here works masterfully to keep you entertained.
Somehow the filmmakers pulled off, what should have been an epic train wreck of a movie å la 'Hell of the Living Dead' also 1980, however 'Zombie Holocaust' is brutally entertaining from beginning to end, surprisingly both familiar enough to accept and original enough to be fresh and engaging.
Surprisingly 'Zombie Holocaust' is unique. But one cannot deny that this was also a cash-in on the success of Lucio Fulci's 'Zombie Flesh Eaters' 1979, as well as some influence cribbed from 'The Mountain of the Cannibal God' 1978, everything from the jungle setting, actor Ian McCulloch, the set pieces and even parts of the story are all plucked from other Italian exploitation films. However, it all somehow works and the film is a beautiful example of what a good exploitation horror film should be
Marino Girolami directs 'Zombie Holocaust' under the pseudonym of Frank Martin, Italian directors often did this for one of two reasons, either by request of the distributor, so the films would look and feel more American, or because the directors were too ashamed to place their real name on the film because it was something they did not want themselves to be associated with, though with 'Zombie Holocaust' I would assume it was for the latter reason, as this film was heavily marketed in the United States as 'Doctor Butcher MD' and made for the grindhouse crowd.
'Zombie Holocaust' was also written and produced by Fabrizio De Angelis who also produced 'Zombie Flesh Eaters', and worked on 'Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals' 1977.
It is apparent that Fabrizio was milking the success of these films for as much as he could, even going so far as recycling the music from 'Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals' in 'Zombie Holocaust'
'Zombie Holocaust' is a pulp exploitation extravaganza. The story is played loose and fast, one minute we are dealing with organ harvesting native immigrants stealing body parts from cadavers in a New York hospital, the next we are in the jungle searching for a crazy tribe of cannibals who have been driven bloodthirsty by a mad scientist who is using them in his zombie experiments.
The film triumphs in outdoing anything that has come before it, the gore is strong, unsurprisingly the film's main selling point and realistically it is also what carries the story forward, arms are hacked off, eyes gouged out, people are gutted, heads shredded into mulch and flesh is eaten. This film is a complete romp and a bloody good time.
Thankfully there is no animal cruelty in this film, at least nothing I saw, so that is always a bonus, because that is a trope of the Italian cannibal's films that should never have had happened.
Funny side note: In an early scene a hospital attendant jumps out of a window falling to his death, as he lands his arm falls off scuttling across the ground away from his body, but in the next shot his arm is back on his body, this was too funny for so many reasons.
The acting is well… as good as it gets as Italian exploitation cinema goes, but let us face it we are not watching 'Zombie Holocaust' for Shakespearean performances.
Ian McCulloch is recycled from 'Zombie Flesh Eaters' with much the same role as he played, but it is always nice to see a familiar face, and he does seem to be having fun playing the part.
Alongside Ian McCulloch is the beautiful Alexandra Delli Colli; her role is interesting however it seems like she is only here to titillate the male audience, presumably for her resemblance to Ursula Andress from 'The Mountain of the Cannibal God'.
Donald O'Brien plays the mad scientist, and though the script is mostly to blame he is no Richard Johnson, and his performance seems to be just mediocre.
'Zombie Holocaust' is now available through 88 Films in the UK, fully uncut and beautifully re-masters, the restoration is fantastic.
This is the best 'Zombie Holocaust' has ever looked, clear and crisp image and sound, and much effort has been taken to retain the film's original grain and colours.
'Zombie Holocaust' is part of 88 Films Italian Collection, and comes with a reversible sleeve, collectors booklet and postcard, the disc includes an interview with Ian McCulloch and some deleted scenes.
But the piece de resistance is the inclusion of a new feature length documentary 'Eaten Alive' about the Italian cannibal film phenomenon, which is one of the best special features to ever be included on any exploitation DVD or Blu-ray ever.
88 Films have outdone themselves with this release of 'Zombie Holocaust' it is a phenomenal presentation of one of the best Italian exploitation films, I personally recommend grabbing a copy of the Blu-ray as the film just look amazing.
Jungle Cannibals, Zombies, A Mad Scientist and Beautiful Babes, could have been a disaster, but 'Zombie Holocaust' is an absolute classic, mixing all of these elements together somehow made an extraordinarily entertaining exploitation adventure film.
I give 'Zombie Holocaust' a solid 4 out of 5 stars, this film is absolutely awesome and 88 Films have done a spectacular job with restoring this movie and giving it the much love and attention it deserves.