Zombie, known as Zombi 2 overseas, was the film which revitalized Lucio Fulci’s floundering career, and was the first film on his pathway to being dubbed “The Godfather of Gore”. It should be noted that George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was released in Europe under the title Zombi, and although Fulci’s film is billed as Zombi 2, it is in no way related to Romero’s series, being simply a marketing ploy.
Zombie opens with a bang (literally), as the opening scene features a corpse tied and wrapped in a sheet starting to rise from a cot until it is stopped with a bullet in the head. The mysterious gunman, who is hiding in the shadows, then states that the boat may now leave. This leads to the title credits, and another scene in which the boat is seen entering New York with no visible crew on board, and upon investigation it is revealed that a zombie is stowed away.
Although the film has an exciting opening, the film does slow down for a short period, as we meet the main characters: a British journalist, the daughter of a scientist from the island, an American couple on vacation, and a doctor doing research on the island. Something is very obviously wrong on the island, as zombie attacks occur more and more frequently, although it is not known why.
The film suffers from a weak plot, as overall not much really happens. The four protagonists travel to the island, and zombies start to attack en masse, then the survivors leave. This isn’t the only film by Fulci to suffer from plot problems (City of the Living Dead has quite a confusing, bizarre plot) but anyone watching the film is probably not doing so for the story. The characters are not really developed much either, and some of them are really quite bland.
What Zombie lacks in plot, it more than makes up for in makeup and gore. Coming out only a year after Dawn of the Dead, the makeup in Zombie far, far surpasses the makeup quality in Romero’s film. The zombies in Dawn of the Dead look like regular people with blue makeup. Watching the film today, Romero’s zombies look really dated, silly, and in no way scary. The zombies in Zombie actually look like filthy, rotting corpses. They are grimy, bloody, and terrifying to behold. One of the more memorable scenes involved a conquistador zombie slowly rising from the earth with an eye full of worms. This zombie’s terrible visage has been used as the movie’s poster and subsequent DVD and Blu-Ray covers. Although the film was released over three decades ago, the look of the zombies more than holds up today, which I found to be quite impressive.
The gore in Zombie is unbelievable. Throats are ripped out, zombie skin is ripped off, splinters enter eyeballs, heads explode, and a zombie arm is torn off by a shark. The gore often looks realistic compared to the oftentimes bright, paint-like blood of Dawn of the Dead. Blood in this film looks like blood is supposed to. The scene where a group of zombies is found eating a body is one of the best “zombie feasting” scenes in cinema.
Being a zombie film, gore is a must-have, and if the merits of a good zombie movie are measured on gore alone, then Zombie would definitely be a contender for the number one spot. It is pretty clear what Fulci intended this movie to focus on. For gorehounds, zombie fans, and fans of Italian horror in general, this film is considered a must-see. Casual horror fans are encouraged to also give the film a try. Anyone with a weak stomach when it comes to gore, should stay far, far away, or attend the film with a “barf-bag”, as the trailer humorously suggests.
Did anyone else enjoy Zombie, or was the weak plot too much of a hindrance? How would you rank this film on your list of favorite zombie movies? Comment below.