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Zombi 2 (Zombie Flesh Eaters)

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Posted 23rd April 2009 at 10:49 AM by Philleh

God bless George A. Romero and Dario Argento!

You may be asking yourself “Phill, what the **** are you talking about? You’re reviewing a Lucio Fulci movie!” – And you’d be right? What the **** am I talking about? When Romero and Argento teamed up to create the legendary Dawn of the Dead, not many industry people could foresee the onslaught of imitators that would follow in its wake: due to the fact that most of them believed it would flop! The short sighted, dick-faces!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway, when mailman-come-exploitation film producer extraordinaire, Fabrizio de Angelis, fronted some bucks for a quickie little horror flick, based on his genius realisation that the zombie genre was about to rise like a phoenix from the ashes, he chose the right man for the job of directing his celluloid assault. With Lucio Fulci onboard this little movie was destined for infamy, insane success (making a very rich man of the noble mailman) and would eventually become more popular in Europe than the film it’s based on! Not bad going, I’m sure you’ll agree.

When a seemingly abandoned sail boat is found floating it’s way into the busy waters of New York’s harbour, the harbour patrol is quick to investigate the vessel. Once onboard, they realise that who ever was onboard left in a hurry as their meals are still on the table and the electrics are all running. The tranquillity is soon erased once a big fat zombie crashes through a cabin door and attacks one of the police officers. Defending himself the officer scratches off a handful of dead tissue form the fatty, who rebuts by biting a chunk out of the poor cops neck – touché zombie, touché. The zombie soon finds himself on deck and is blasted by the other officer and drops overboard into the water below, as the camera pans across to the New York skyline. Fulci means business.

Turns out that the boat belongs to the father of Anne Bowles (Tisa Farrow – Anthropophagus: The Beast) who is desperate to find out what has happened to her pops. Also with a burning desire to find out what happened to the owner of the boat are a journalist, Peter West (Ian McCullough), and the editor of the newspaper he works for (Fulci himself). Peter and Anne are soon collaborating on the search for her father, finding their way to an Island known as Matul, which was his last known whereabouts. With the help of Brian Hall (Al Cliver) and Susan Bennett (Auretta Gay), they have a boat at their disposal and make their way to the Island. Along the way they stop for a spot of topless diving on Susan behalf, only pickle is that there happens to be a zombie lurking down there! Attacking Susan, she is soon relieved to see a shark come cruising in and picking a fight with the zombie! Zombie vs Shark?! (Is this a band name yet? It should be!) Who in their right mind can not feel thrilled by that prospect?

Once on the Island, they hook up with a work colleague of her pa’s, Doctor David Menard (the brilliant Richard Johnson), who explains to her what has been happening on this Island and what he and Anne’s dad had planned on achieving, and how voodoo was a major pain in their ass: the results of the voodoo practices? An Island full of the viventi morte! They have to pull together if they want to stand a chance of getting their asses off the Island and back to New York. But the zombies aren’t about to let them get away that easy!

It’s so easy for ‘critics’ to find fault with a film that was produced on very little money by a milkman and a renegade filmmaker to cash-in on the success of another genre film. What they don’t seem to ‘get’ is that the audience don’t give a ****. They’re there to watch zombies tear shit up, pillage a village and perv on the beautiful Olga Karlatos as she showers in front of a full length mirror for added flesh! Who cares if Fulci has dropped the socio-political commentary and the satire on consumerism? What we have here is balls to the wall exploitation gold that filmmakers of today can only DREAM of achieving.

Where Dawn… has all the brains, Zombi 2 has all the balls! The zombie/shark fight is truly a remarkable scene and, for my money, has never been equalled (even if the shark does look a little lethargic). It’s truly innovative and whichever shark trainer had the giblets to ‘play fight’ with a shark, is a man I wish never to be on the wrong side of! Let us not forget the infamous eye gouging scene. Karlatos has beautiful eyes and it’s all the more tragic that they receive such brutal treatment in this flick, but damn it all, WHAT a set-piece! The agonising wait as she is dragged closer and closer to the splinter of wood becomes near unbearable! When it hits, it doesn’t disappoint, Di Rossi proved to the world what he was capable of here. The British version was actually cut of a few seconds of this scene, which removed the actual contact; some people find this cut more effective than the uncut version. I have to say I agree, as it leaves a lot more to the ol’ think tank, and you conjure up some sickening images.

From a technical stand point this is superior to Dawn, it may have had a smaller budget but the scope photography belies what was spent on the movie. Each shot is a work of beauty and as mentioned above, the underwater fight is once again a technical marvel. The sunny locations outside of New York also add a novelty value, as before this movie most European zombie flicks has been set in busy cities and rambled on about the effects of pollution and whatnot. To see a beautiful tropical Island as the main setting is refreshing and, again, genius on the producers part (a holiday while making a movie – bonus!).

The downsides? Pfft. What downsides? This film is a winner in every respect, even if Fulci was so strapped for cash that he had to reuse footage of Cliver and McCullough lobbing petrol bombs at zombies (who were winos, paid with wine!), the scene is so well edited that many people won’t notice it. As for the dubbing? HA! I love it! Most of the actors spoke in English and dubbed their respective roles anyways, so it doesn’t cause as must distraction as other dubbed titles in the Fulci canon. *cough*Don’t Torture a Duckling*cough* Hell, even the actors do a good enough effort, even if Auretta Gay (who by all accounts was hated by Fulci) does annoy towards the end. Fabio Frizzi also deserves mention for his absolutely brilliant work on the music, producing one of the most recognisable scores in exploitation history.

This film has been released a few times already, twice by Anchor Bay and even Blue Underground has put out a copy. But it was Media Blasters who released the Holy Grail for Zombi fans. A 2-disc set sporting more extra’s than you can shake a maggot infested severed arm at! The transfer is the best it has been, which has led to more complaints by certain viewers about the effects now looking poor; **** ‘em! The gore here is a billion times better than anything in Dawn, but because that was Tom Savini, they let it slide – once again, dick-faces! The bulk of the features are interviews with cast and crew (mostly crew) members and an audio commentary with Ian McCullough, moderated by Jay Slater and it’s apparent that Mr. McCullough couldn’t give two-shits about the film as Slater babbles on about how important the movie is to him. They have also given fans the chance to be serenaded by the actor who was the doctor’s assistant in the film; it’s random, very random. There are also plenty of trailers for further zombie films that Media Blasters have released, sadly there is no trailer for the main feature its self! - Bugger.

All in all you are in for a ****ing great time with this film and the DVD, and I defy anyone who doesn’t get a raging hard-on (or just erect nipples will do) during the zombie/shark scene! A true classic that deserves every bit of love and respect it receives from fans, both new and old.

Directed by:
Lucio Fulci

Cast:
Tisa Farrow
Ian McCullough
Richard Johnson
Al Cliver
Olga Karlatos
Auretta Gay

Recommendations: Let Sleeping Corpses Lie & Zombie Holocaust
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  1. Old Comment
    Pete's Avatar
    Great review. Youre right in your comments about fans not giving a **** because its Tom Savini. ZFE fx are well better than Dawns.
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 23rd April 2009 at 10:57 AM by Pete Pete is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Philleh's Avatar
    Cheers dude, glas you enjoyed it.

    Yeah, it's sad but it's also true. I'll be the first to defend Dawn... on the whole, but the effects are terrible, especially when compared with this, a lesser budgeted film from the same time! Someone cut some corners! ha.
    Comment with Quote permalink
    Posted 23rd April 2009 at 11:28 AM by Philleh Philleh is offline
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