Review by Monkey Fist
SCUM Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Back in ’82, one of my primary school classmates passed me the bootleg version of “Zombi 2″ on VHS. The visual and audio quality were pretty nasty and I could only catch glimpses of it. Regardless it left a very strong impression on me as I’ve never seen anything so shocking and horrifying. When I started work in the late 90s, I managed to get my hands on Anchor Bay’s DVD release on what I consider to be one of the best zombie films ever made.
“Zombi 2” was released in 1979 and it wasn’t long before it gained a huge reputation as a new classic of horror and gave worldwide recognition to director Lucio Fulci’s career. It also established him as a horror master after a long series of successful works in the Giallo sub-genre. While it was named by the studios as “Zombi 2” in an attempt to tie it to George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” (which had a tremendous success in Europe titled as “Zombi”); “Zombi 2” was written Elisa Briganti and Dardano Sacchetti and has no relation to Romero’s series other than the fact that they were based on the undead.
The story begins with an abandoned ship that reaches New York’s coast without any crew. Tisa Farrow plays Anne Bowles, who recognizes the ship as the one owned by her father, and starts an investigation to unveil the mystery of her father’s disappearance. Peter West (Ian McCulloch) is a journalist who offers to help her in exchange for exclusive rights to publish the story. Their quest leads them to a tropical island that’s on the verge of a zombie epidemic.
Renamed as “Zombie” in the U.S. and “Zombie Flesh Eaters” in the U.K., “Zombi 2” struck a strong impression given its graphic and realistic gore. Granted that the effects were awesome for “Dawn of the Dead”, but “Zombi 2” is still clearly ahead in terms of special effects make-up. The realistic make-up effects by Giannetto De Rossi and his team are truly one of the highlights of the film and one of the reasons it’s still praised today.
Fulci’s trademark mix of subtle suspense and very graphic violence find a balance rarely seen in his other works and it helps define “Zombi 2” to be a visually powerful horror movie. I guess it’s safe to say that if Romero created the modern zombie genre, Fulci gave it the shape we know nowadays, and is directly responsible for the way zombie films are done today.
Tisa Farrow, a familiar face in the Italian horror scene of the late 70s, gives a convincing performance as Anne, and while her character (like the rest) is not very well developed, she makes a convincing lead character and carry the film with dignity. Ian McCulloch is less impressive. Pierluigi Conti (as Al Cliver) has a small role, but his performance was remarkably good as a man trapped in the madness.
The script had its fair share of plot holes and illogical situations but still there is more good than bad in “Zombi 2”. The film is remarkably well-done and it is a testament of Fulci’s quality as a director. “Zombi 2” is a film that lives up to its reputation and the perfect introduction to Euro horror of the 70s. So for this coming Christmas gathering back home with your family and loved ones, I would suggest popping this flick into the Blu-Ray player rather than a Walt Disney title!!