Zombi 2 Review
Written by: thegoldensimatar
In 1978 American filmmaker George A. Romero returned to the zombie genre with the much praised, loved and respected Dawn of the Dead. Needless to say Dawn cemented the modern zombie rules that have been used up till recent. But, lets jump on back to 1978. Italian director Dario Argento (Tenebre) edited and released Romero's film across much of Europe under the title of Zombi or some variation of that. At that time Italian Director Lucio Fulci (The Beyond) was helming his own zombie film and it was released in 1979 under the title of Zombi 2, I'll get into the speceifics why later in the review.
The movie starts out in New York City where a boat apparently abandoned comes floating into harbor. A police boat comes up and one cop boards. The boat contains a zombie and he is attacked and killed. His partner shoots the zombie off the boat and down into the harbor. Some time later Anne Bowels (Tisa Farrow) arrives to inspect the boat, it belongs to her father who went with a few scientist friends down to the Carribbean for studies. When she comes back at night to poke around, she meets Peter West (Ian McCulloch) a reporter who convinces her that they should pair up to see what has happened. They head down the Carribbean where they met Brian Hall and Susan Barrett (Al Cliver and Auretta Gay) who are on vacation and West convinces them to take them to a much rumored and avoided island called Matoul, where Anne's father is suppose to be. They go there and find...zombies of course.
Story isn't exactly the most original. Yet, Zombi 2 takes the zombie back to its origins in the Caribbean with voodoo as the cause of thier rise, though in the movie it is only referenced. Though for some people who are slightly anal, a zombie is not a flesheater but a slave to a master and a ghoul is a flesheater, but what ya gonna do about it? Zombie is catchier too.
Okay, lets confront the Zombi 2 title. Romero's Dawn was released in Italy as Zombi and there has been much discussion ever since if Fulci's film was the start of the many Romero rip offs like Bruno Mattei's mind numbing Hell of the Living Dead or by pressure of the producers and/or studio execs to cash in on Romero's success in Italy. According to the interviews with some of the crew on the 2 Disc Shriek Show 25th Anniversary Edition DVD Fulci's film was in production about the same time Romero's was and they did not know of his film till after thiers was almost done and it was higher ups who ordered Fulci . I have to say I believe them on this fact as it is within the realm of possiblity and the 1980s proved there to be more rips from Romero.
Okay, enough of that...lets get onto ze review. Lucio Fulci (who makes a cameo as West's boss at the newspaper) up to this point is not the gore fest director that we know and love him for. Instead, he had directed a lot of adventure, action, some comedy and one or two horror films but Zombi 2 is the film I can say with some safety that got him attention and will make sure he is remembered. I have seen a few Fulci films and bits of others; it is hard to imagine him doing anything else than gore fests. Though I have not seen Fulci's earlier works I can safely say that Zombi 2 shows obvoius promise as a horror director from a guy coming from adventure and funny stuff. Fulci creates a creepy atmosphere, which is to be copied in later Italian zombie films but in my opinion never reached.
The acting is good for the kind of film it is. I can say that the actors do much better with the cookie cutter characters (the newspaper man, scientist, loving couple, worried daughter etc) far better than most actors do in low budget horror nowadays. I also must mention I have never seen the actors in anything else outside of this film besides Tisa Farrow (who plays Anne) in Joe D'Amato's Antropophagus. So I really cannot compare this work to others beside's Farrow's which here is a much better preformance than in D'Amato's film.
Now, lets talk of the music, the composers on this picture are Giorgio Cascio and Fabio Frizzi. The theme music (which appears in several points throughout the movie) is a strong, haunting, aggressive tempo electro sound much like John Carpenter. The theme is another prime example of how good the music for these films were and it is one of my favorite themes. Most of the other music is is electric with some drums to create the tropical atmosphere. This sounds a bit average after the theme which I am sad to say can rival Carpenter's opening theme for Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, or Escape From New York.
Now, for what y'all (yes, I am an American from the south) been waiting for. The zombies and how they look. The makeup here is A LOT better than Tom Savini's on Romero's Dawn, no offense to him I understand it was a low budget picture...but...here the zombies are better looking. The zombies in Dawn were all painted a grey color with some latex stuff thrown on while here the effects by Giannetoo De Rossi (who also worked on Alexandre Aja's High Tension), Maurizio Trani, and Rosario Prestopino (who was uncredited in this picture) have a very dry, dirt covered and generally crumbled look to them. But the best zombie is the poster zombie with the worms in the eye, simply for that reason. There is an eye popping scene *wink to fans* that is not only shot well by Fulci but the effects are goosebump causing good. There is also a scene where a woman is torn wide open with a few zombies feasting on her, that view gave me nightmares for a bit.
Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2 is a must have for any zombie or Italian horror fan out there. I recommend getting the 2 disc Shriek Show edition if you want special features since the Blue Underground release really only has the trailer. Though an American might see Zombi 3, Zombi 4: After Death, and Zombi 5: Killing Birds....they are really...really bad. Zombi 3 has the only relation to Fulci's movie because he filmed most of it before dropping out apparently due to health reasons before being replaced by Bruno Mattei. Zombi 2 also goes under the title of Zombie in the USA, but they are the same movie.
In closing, Zombi 2 is one of very best of the Italian zombie films during the 1970s and 80s and if you count Dellamorte Dellamore, the early 90s. Okay, thegoldensimatar is outta here gorehounds and horrorhounds.