Director – Lucio Fulci
Cast – Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver, Auretta Gay, Stefania D’Amario, Olga Karlatos
Release Year – 1979
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is a film that has been solidified in zombie history as one of the best and most well known zombie films to date. Debuting one year after the George A. Romero’s infamous Dawn of the Dead, controversial Italian director Lucio Fulci‘s Zombi capitalized on the growing market for zombies and zombie related gore that burst into the late 70’s and entire 80’s horror scene. Lucio Fulci went on to do some other great and well known horror films after this, but it is Zombi and The Beyond that have solidified him as an iconic horror director.
The film starts off with an abandoned boat drifting into a dock along the New York coast. Two Coast Guard officers board to boat to check it out and find it completely abandoned and in disarray, until a zombie comes out from the hull and attacks them. The local police discover that the boat belongs to a famous scientist, and bring his daughter Anne down for questioning so they can figure out what is going on. She is not very useful, as he has been on an expedition to the island of Matul and has not spoken to her in months. Curious about what has happened to her father, she teams up with a local reporter and join two vacationers who have a boat and set sail for the island of Matul. Upon arrival at the island they meet up with a scientist who was a colleague of Anne’s father, and he explains her father’s demise at the hands of something strange that he contracted. He then tells the group that apparently some of the islanders have put out a voodoo curse that kills the living and then makes them rise from the dead to eat other human flesh. Him and her father had been on a mission to debunk that claim and find a medical reason behind it, but to no avail. With the voodoo curse slowly turning more and more of the island’s inhabitants into zombies, the group must fight for their own survival, and find a way to get off of the island.
Right off the back, I really liked how this film showed us a fresh idea in the zombie genre as far as where the zombies came from. I’d have to say that at last 80 percent of zombie films have the zombies originating from some kind of radioactive waste falling over graves or a government conspiracy experiment gone wrong, this film goes in a different direction and uses voodoo as the source. I really liked that because I’ve always heard about indigenous tribes using voodoo to bring family members back from the dead, so the possibility that this notion could be based on true events fascinates me. We also get to see some really sweet scenes that have yet to be brought forth in any other horror films. The “shark scene” is amazing! Just thinking about how long it took to create that scene really baffles me, and it’s a pretty creative idea involving zombies if you ask me(and no…its not a zombie shark). This film being a Lucio Fulci horror film also guarantees one thing…he will not shy away from the gore! The “eyeball scene” is one of the most infamous horror movie deaths of all time, and will leave you wanting to watch it again, then not having the stomach to do it, and then just doing it anyway. Fun stuff! The zombies in this film looked really sweet as well, with a very “earthy” look that comes accompanied with worms and maggots. :smiles inside: I must honestly say that although Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” is a much better film…Romero’s zombies take a second place to Fulci’s zombies in this film, they simply look amazing.
My only complains for this film are of course the typical cheesy acting that you should expect just from the film’s title and year of production, and some minute plot holes that if filled in…would have improved this film story wise.
Overall, this is a film that all true zombie fans and fans of 70’s and 80’s horror will enjoy, with an interesting concept involving voodoo bringing the dead to life.