Zombie

Hi everybody, I’m back. I survived the two exceedingly hot days in NYC and I survived today’s less-hot day. Sadly, I have a summer cold that feels like the superflu, so my posts (And emails and life) have been delayed a bit. I watched this movie about a week ago, wrote a draft of what I was going to write about and now I’m finally feeling like I have the attention span to type this puppy up. I’m really glad, actually, because I love this movie.
Lucio Fulci’s 1979 release Zombie aKa Zombi 2 is the first Fulci movie that I ever saw that wasn’t chopped up and recut for American audiences. A friend in college showed it to me and it absolutely blew my mind. Up until then, I was only familiar with Romero’s zombies and Seven Doors of Death, the American cut of The Beyond. Zombies scared me a lot. The zombies were so much more desiccated than Romero’s undead and the ending was so much more hopeless. By the way, there are spoilers ahead. I just like the ending of this movie so much, I had to post a screen cap. So, onward to plot!
A boat drifts into N.Y. Harbor. The harbor patrol investigates and are attacked by a huge, bald zombie (Played by an uncredited Captain Haggerty, t.v.’s “Mr. Clean.”)
Investigative reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch) is ordered to investigate by his editor, played by Lucio Fulci in a cameo.

He meets Anne Bolt (Tisa Farrow), the daughter of the ship’s owner.

Anne’s father has been working on the remote island but she hasn’t heard from him in months. She decides to go to the island of Matool with Peter.
Bryan (Al Cliver) and Susan (Auretta Gay) take Anne and Peter to the remote island on their boat. They find the desolate island under siege by a plague.

Dr. Menard (Richard Johnson), her father’s colleague, tells Anne that her father succumbed to the plague that kills people and then causes them to rise from the dead. The natives think it’s voodoo but Dr. Menard thinks there’s a scientific explanation.
The group finds Dr. Menard’s wife, Paola (Olga Karlatos), dead with a big old splinter in her eye and zombies eating her corpse. They make their way back to the hospital and are picked off one by one. Susan’s bit while sitting on the grave of a conquistador. Bryan’s bit by Susan and eventually, Anne and Peter are the only survivors. They take Bryan’s ship and lock Bryan in the bilge, as proof of what they’ve witnessed. They turn the radio on as they head out to open ocean and hear that zombies have overtaken the city of New York. The movie ends with the amazing shot of zombies crossing the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan.

That is one over-the-top ending. That’s part of the reason I love Fulci. I watch an Argento film when I want something lyrical and slightly abstract, I watch Romero when I want social commentary, and I watch Fulci when I want something weird and gross. I like to watch the trailers of the movies I watch, especially the international trailers versus the U.S. trailers. The U.S. Zombie trailer cracked me up because it has this warning.

Yup, that pretty much sums it up. This movie does have some crazy moments. If you haven’t seen Zombie yet, you may have heard of it as the movie where a topless woman is scuba-diving and is attacked by an underwater zombie. She escapes and then the zombie attacks a shark. Yes, this is that movie.


I always laugh when I hear people say they’d go to an island to escape from zombies. They don’t need to breathe, they could probably survive underwater and just wander back on land as long as they didn’t become to decomposed.
The movie also has what would become Fulci’s signature, an intensely close-up shot of someone getting stabbed in the eye.

Interestingly, the movie was originally called Zombi 2 to make it seem like a sequel to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which was called Zombi in Europe. I find that interesting because, as I said earlier, Fulci and Romero are two very different directors.
I love the way the movie is bookended by the ghost ship at the beginning and the ship returning to N.Y.C. at the end. The boat at the end may as well be a ghost ship, it has a zombie on board and it’s heading back to a dead city.
Isolation is an interesting theme in the movie. Matool has this dusty loneliness that reminds me of Schweick’s painting at the end of The Beyond. The hospital, that used to be a church, is clearly in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by dense vegetation. Dr. Menard’s estate is also very isolated. There’s absolutely no way for these people to get help, short of leaving the island.
A theme of decay also runs through the movie. The hospital looks like a strong wind would knock it over. The corpses in the movie are also incredibly desiccated. It’s not just the recently deceased who are returning, everyone who was buried on the island seems to be returning, as long as they have enough flesh to be mobile.
Honestly, upon rewatching the movie, I’m trying to figure out if this movie is racist. The inhabitants of the island are portrayed as goofy and child-like. This may be due to the dubbing, though. The version I saw was the Blue Underground release that had an Italian language version, with no English subtitles, and an English dubbed version. On the other hand, the natives were right about the plague. They knew that science wasn’t going to be able to fix it and to just get out of the way. So I’m turn by this issue and left deeply uncomfortable.
The music in the movie is amazing. It was done by Fabio Frizzi, who would later do the music for The Beyond. Zombie has one of the creepiest themes I’ve ever heard of, a combination of heartbeat-like drumming, synth lines, and moaning. The music also has increasingly frenzied tribal drumming as the movie progresses. The foley artist must have had fun with this movie because the sound effects are some of the grossest I’ve ever heard. When a zombie bites a victim, it sounds like they’re really being bit.
The movie has some jump scares but it’s also scary because of its level of gore. I liked the occasional shifts of point-of-view. Fulci sometimes used shots from the point-of-view of the zombies in the jungle and that made the movie feel very tense at parts. Plus, there’s the fact that the corpses are very decomposed and very gross.
So this movie lived up to being as scary as I remembered it. That’s always a pleasure. While the movie doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense, it’s definitely worth watching, especially if you want to contrast European zombie movies with American zombie movies.

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About scarina

I like scary movies a little too much. I thought I'd share my obsession with you.
This entry was posted in 1970's, apocalypse, foreign, supernatural, zombies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Zombie

  1. Thomas D. says:

    Wheels and his buddies have a sleep over in an episode of DEGRASSI JR. HIGH, and they watch Zombie. Just some info you can drop into a conversation if DEGRASSI ever comes up.

    Tisa was in Woody Allen’s Manhattan the same year, which opens with a shot of the brooklyn bridge (sans zombies). Just some info you can use to seem smart if you find yourself in a Tisa Farrow conversation.

    I think this all ties together somehow, but I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

    • scarina says:

      I think I remember that episode. Is that when Spinner and Marco slept over and Spinner thought that Marco wanted to have teh ghey secks with him?
      And it all ties together because Tisa is Mia Farrow’s sister.

  2. Crypticpsych says:

    “That’s part of the reason I love Fulci. I watch an Argento film when I want something lyrical and slightly abstract, I watch Romero when I want social commentary, and I watch Fulci when I want something weird and gross.”

    That’s probably one of the best ways I’ve heard that put ever. Well done. lol

    I only fully watched Zombie for the first time last month. It was part of that 35mm twofer I saw with Gates of Hell/City of the Living Dead. Going in, I loved City of the Living Dead. Coming out having had to sit through it again, I was forced to admit, while I still liked it, it had deep flaws…and that Zombie was amazing. It’s weird, in Romero, for instance, there are memorable zombies…Bub and the intestine spilling zombie and others in Day, the Hare Krishna and the helicopter one in Dawn, etc. Fulci really seems to not give them identities. The most famous ones are the one on the poster with the worms in his eye (played by Ottaviano Dell’Acqua…Italians love their eyes…) and the shark fighter. What I’m getting at is that Romero has a horde of zombies but still gives them individuality visually. Most of Fulci’s zombies are just that, zombies…and I think that actually makes them scarier as they’re more faceless in terms of personality.

    It also is very possible the movie is racist…at the very least, it seems Dr. Menard is given his perception of the native religion and actions toward them.

    Oh, and one other thing I found out that I love, regarding the ending. Did you know that, if I remember correctly, the reason the zombies are walking across the bridge the way they are is because they couldn’t get them to close the bridge for the scene. That’s why while the zombies are walking on that part of the bridge, you can see traffic still driving by. It doesn’t ruin the scene or anything because it’s still such a bleak ending…it’s just a little bit of unintentional humor.

    • scarina says:

      Thanks. I kind of like that the zombies are less individualized because what makes a zombie horde scary is that there are so many of them. You kill one and there are two more. Plus, you can’t relate to them if you can’t tell what they used to be.
      I have a love/hate relationship with City of the Living Dead although I don’t hate it the way I hate House by the Cemetary.
      I liked that you can still see traffic, it seemed to be going in the oppisite direction of the zombies so I figured it was refugees.

  3. Fear Street says:

    A zombie attacking a shark. There are no words…

  4. Amiee says:

    I just have to agree with Fear Street. I would be one of those heading for an island when zombies attack..it didn’t occur they could go underwater. Funnily enough though Australia always seems to be affected last in doomsday predictions.

    • scarina says:

      Hmmm, I wonder if there are any Australian zombie movies? Australia’s getting a lot of attention in the States now. I think it’s b/c of Wolf Creek & Wolf Creek 2. I know I really want to see The Loved Ones & that movie about the Snowtown murders.

  5. Megan Taylor says:

    Your reviews make me wanna watch random movies I’ve never heard off.

    As for a zombie attacking a shark I’m rooting for the zombie on that one I’m more scared of a shark then a zombie !!!

    An us Aussies are just lucky aliens must think we r boring an we obviously don’t deserve to go down in flame an tidal waves of destruction lol

    I don’t think we have any australian zombie movies, to b honest I don’t think we make any good horror/slasher/zombie movies in aus. Wolf creek was kinda creepy but only cause that hits close to home for me an snow town is hard to watch cause again verrrrry close to home for me I watched a documentary about the snow town murders an didn’t sleep that night it wigged me out muchly !!! Ohhh but I do recommend if you can find a copy of it somehow somewhere is watch a lil Australian slasher movie called Cut it stars Molly ringwald an Kylie Minogue an it’s one my fave slasher flicks !!!

    • scarina says:

      Awesome, I think that’s the best compliment I’ve ever gotten about my blog & it’s why I started writing.
      LoL but you’re an Aussie, right? I thought Aussie’s had shark repellant in their blood.
      Oh, I heard about that Snow Town documentary, that whole case creeps me out so much. I do know that The Loved Ones came out recently on DVD, it’s about a girl who captures her dream prom date. There’s also an eco-horror movie from the seventies about a bunch of jerks that I need to see. Holy hell, a slasher with Molly Ringwald & Kylie Minogue? I NEED to see that.

      • Megan Taylor says:

        Lol you def have a way of writing that’s just as compelling as watching the actual movies !!!

        Lol yes but I am a sad excuse for an Aussie cause I have a phobia of being eaten by a shark !!! I blame jaws that damn movie an that creepy music when the sharks attacking !!!

        Lol yep it’s not a sensational slasher flick but it’s a lil Aussie gem with Molly ringwald who I absolutely love for her 80s girly movies but it’s def worth a watch if ya can get ya hands on a copy it’s pretty rare an I live in the city the film was made in an took
        Me forever to find it lol !!

        Keep up the good blogging/reviewing :) much enjoyable reading !!

      • scarina says:

        Wow, thanks!
        LoL my dad lives by the Jersey Shore & he always hated how freaked out I used to get by sharks. I’m definitely not so scared of them anymore.
        Luckily, I found it on Netflix, it’s been added to the queue.
        And thank you, again.

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