‘Zombie Flesh Eaters’
Out of all the monsters of film land it is zombies that scare the most shit out of me! Ever since seeing ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (1968) some 25 years ago they still freak me out. In fact that has that film has the distinction of being one of the very few to give me nightmares. ‘The Shining’ (1980) is one of the others. So naturally I force myself to watch them on a regular basis.
Arrow Blu-ray release with new artwork (pictured)
The first film I’d like to discuss is Lucio Fulci’s ‘Zombi 2’ (1979) or ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters’ to me and you, a notorious ‘video nasty’ now available uncut thankfully. I bought this some 12 years ago and haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it. I was aware of its reputation but for so long resisted it’s bloody charms – until now. Recently I’ve been collecting the Arrow blu-ray reissues of cult movies and ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters’ is one of the ones I upgraded. I am a sucker for extras and this release is no exception as it comes with commentaries, documentary, trailers and HD quality. I finally got around to watching it the other day and I have to say I really really enjoyed it. Is it twisted of me to say I enjoyed a film where people get flesh ripped and chewed off them, lady has an eyeball gouged out and there is no hope of escape come the finale? Then twist me up because I know deep down I wouldn’t really gouge someone’s eyeball out – that’s horrible. Speaking of that scene actually that’s one of the only things I knew about the film. It’s pretty gruesome by the way…and just when you expect it to cut away it does but then cuts back and takes it even further!
The eye gouging scene (pictured)
The performances are pretty decent and the dubbing isn’t the worst I’ve encountered. It helps that some of the principal cast appear to be providing their own voices. It was good to see a familiar face or two pop up. I recognised Ian McCulloch from a few things in the past, namely ‘The Ghoul’ (1975), the BBC TV show ‘Survivors’ from the 70s and ‘Doctor Who’ where he appeared in a story called ‘Warriors of the Deep’ which was a similarly grim tale where none of the guest cast survived at the end. Also Richard Johnson who I remember from ‘The Haunting’ (1963) amongst other things. A quick Google also verified lead actress Tisa Farrow as being a younger sister of Mia. You could totally see it in her horrified eyes. She plays a lady who travels with a reporter to a remote Caribbean island in search of her father whom she hasn’t heard from in a month. The island as it turns out is cursed with voodoo and the dead are coming back to munch on the living. This is one of the things I liked. It bridged the two types of zombie film that were made in the 20th century – voodoo zombies and urban zombies. It was a satisfying mix I have to say. The contrast of the New York street scenes and the scenes set on the island of Matul for me elevate it above a lot of the other schlocky low budget zombie fare of the 70s. The photography is brilliant and Fulci’s direction is also of note. It’s in widescreen but there is still scope for sudden appearances of the undead from offscreen. At one point we even have a zombie POV shot as it rises from the grave to claim some hapless victims, dirt cascading off the camera lens.
Tisa Farrow (pictured)
I have to admit that a major reason for finally getting around to viewing this was that I found out that there was an underwater scene where a zombie fights a shark! It didn’t disappoint and is definitely a highlight. I’ve been loving Italian horror films of late particularly the works of Dario Argento and Mario Bava. Lucio Fulci is someone I am mostly unfamiliar with having only seen ‘The House by the Cemetery’ (1981) before and that creeped me out/confused me heavily. So much so that I got rid of the DVD fairly soon afterwards. I’d like to give him another chance in the light of this and maybe check out ‘City of the Living Dead’ (1980) which I recorded off the Horror Channel some years back onto VHS – even going so far as to cut out the adverts haha!
Zombie vs Shark (pictured)
Back to this film though, the zombies themselves are a gruesome bunch. You would definitely be able to run away from them which I consider a plus. I’m not personally a fan of fast moving zombies at all with their snarling and outstretched arms reaching for me. As expected for a film of its type there was some nudity included but I wouldn’t say it was gratuitous. One of the scenes was of a lady taking a quick shower (fair enough) and the other was of a lady getting ready to go diving. I guess it must be rather warm in the Caribbean and to be honest it was a welcome sight after seeing desiccated corpses ripping people’s throats out.
In all I’d recommend this gore-fest to anyone that hasn’t seen it and likes that sort of thing. It comes from a dark imagination to be sure and has lost none of its power in the close to 40 years since it was made. Especially in High Definition!
Pros – Great gore content, great photography, inventive direction, lives up to its reputation
Cons – None I can think of to be honest
Scene Highlight – Zombie vs Shark!
Score – 10/10