- Rev Horror
Zombie (Zombi 2)
Dir. Lucio Fulci (1979)
A boat in New York harbor contains a zombie, and it attacks the harbor patrol who come aboard. This leads to the investigation of the island from which the boat set sail, where they find more than they bargained for.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
An all-time classic from noted Italian goremeister Lucio Fulci, Zombie (or Zombi 2, or Zombie Flesh Eaters, or whatever title you happen to find it under), along with 1978’s Dawn of the Dead, helped to bring about the modern gory zombie movie that we’ve all come to know and love. No longer were zombies content to just rip some flesh out of their victims off-screen. Nah, these zombies took bites out of jugulars and fought sharks. They fought motherfucking sharks. This was my first ever watch of a film I’ve owned for nearly a decade, so I was excited to see if it was all it’s cracked up to be. I can’t say that I was disappointed, but I do think that the first 30 minutes or so of the film could’ve been cut almost entirely without losing anything from the enjoyment of the film. Hard to call it a feature if the movie is only 45 minutes long, though.
I’d watch 45 minutes of this crazy shit, though.
The film starts very slow and has a lot of the pacing issues that you see quite often from Italian films of this era, but they don’t call Fulci the Godfather of Gore for nothing. Yeah, I know, Herschell Gordon Lewis owns the title too, don’t come at me. While the movie opens with a zombie attack that was fairly groundbreaking for its era, the next half an hour or so are simply moving our characters to the island the zombies inhabit while giving us little in the way of actual plot development or action. More like Godfather of Bore, am I right? Fulci also uses a super-weird almost zydeco soundtrack, which makes the movie sound more like a 70’s island porn instead of a legendary horror film. I also learned a little about why the dubbing on these Italian films are so terrible and off-putting, and it’s largely because half of the cast of these films spoke Italian and half spoke English. The half that spoke Italian spoke no English, and the half that spoke English spoke no Italian, so the people who did the audio had to contend with people in the same scenes speaking entirely different languages. The audio isn’t terrible once you get used to it, but it is a bizarre little quirk that you usually only see in these 70’s Italian flicks.
There is some beautiful scenery throughout, with some mesmerizing shots of coral reefs and swimming sharks, and the zombie/shark fight is truly a wonder to behold. It’s a key moment in exploitation cinema, and it takes full advantage of the bizarre score that makes it feel like some insane fever dream. Fulci used the zombies from Haitian legends rather than the active Romero-style walking dead, which gives them a unique look not seen in many other films. There’s some excellent vintage gore to be found here, and some hugely influential scenes that you will recognize from many of the films that came after. If you can make it through the first 30-40 minutes, the rest of the film is filled with creepy scenes and buckets full of blood. The infamous eyeball scene is a stomach-churning classic that will have even hardcore gore fans squirming.
It’s a disjointed film with as many negatives as positives, but the positives make the whole thing worth it in the end. It’s a hard film to recommend to folks because the people who would like it will largely find it boring while the people who wouldn’t like it couldn’t stomach some of the harsher scenes. It’s earned its reputation through a handful of memorable moments, but the larger part of the film where it drags, it fucking drags. I had to review the damn thing and I was still bored to tears through the parts that weren’t filled with the flesh-eating undead. That doesn’t bode well for the people who are watching it for its entertainment value. It’s still one that you have to watch before you die, but it’s not a fun movie in the same way that Romero’s are. Thankfully, the last act of the film is littered with rising corpses, with a horde of zombies crossing the Brooklyn Bridge into New York and closing out the film on a strong note.
Who this movie is for: Classic zombie movie fans, Gorehounds who need to brush up on their history, Ophthalmologists
Bottom line: Not to be missed for any gore fan who hasn’t seen it, Fulci’s Zombie is a classic and an incredibly important film for the genre and for gore as a larger part of horror. It’s also incredibly boring until you get to the good stuff, so be warned to take your bathroom break in the first 45 minutes. The acting is fine and the cinematography produces some truly beautiful shots, and you cannot miss the batshit insanity of the legendary shark scene. The oft-referenced scenes make the film essential viewing for horror history buffs; just don’t expect to stay entertained throughout.