Plot: A lot of boats arrive in New York’s harbor, but when the vessel of a well known scientist arrives with a lumbering corpse on board, a zombie that attacks the police and prompts a missing persons report. Anne (Tisa Farrow) is the scientist’s daughter and as her father wasn’t found on his ship, she plans to travel to the island he was doing his research on. She is joined by Peter (Ian McCulloch), a journalist who can sense a real scoop is imminent and once the trip requires the final leg to the island, the two learn the locale is considered cursed. But they’re able to tag along with a free spirited couple, so soon they’re en route and as soon as they dock on the island, one of Anne’s fathers colleagues Dr. Menard (Richard Johnson) issues a grim word of warning. Her dad was working in a village that has fallen to a vicious infection and to venture there would be almost certain death. But are all claims of undead hordes and curses just tall tales, or will Anne discover an even more horrific reality on the island?
Entertainment Value: I’d rank Lucio Fulci’s Zombie as not only one of the best zombie movies out there, but one of the most entertaining horror movies in general, as it is one wild ride. The narrative does what it needs to do, including giving us some New York undead hijinks before we venture to a tropical hellscape laden with zombies and all kinds of odd moments. This is one of the rare zombie movies that delivers from start to finish, with consistent entertainment that includes impressive gore, excellent music, and some outlandish, memorable sequences. In addition to all the fun stuff, Zombie boasts some beautiful locales and effective atmosphere, including Fulci’s usual stylish visuals and ability to get the most from his money shots. The pace is brisk and there’s no real slow stretches, while replay value is immense, as Zombie is the kind of movie you can watch often and will want to share with your friends. That is high praise, as some films have a few scenes that stand out, but fall into mediocre sequences, but Zombie avoids that fate and fires on all cylinders. The performances are adequate and people seem scared when they need to be, but there is some campiness in this area, mostly thanks to the dub work. But I think the cast is fine, with Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, and Richard Johnson as the standouts, while Al Cliver is fun as always. In short, Zombie is a genre classic for a reason and for me, has all you could want from a zombie movie and then some, so it earns our highest recommendation.
This one doesn’t have a wealth of sleaze, but we are blessed by an epic underwater topless sequence that is by no means brief and spirals into an aquatic zombie encounter as a bonus. There’s also another scene with full nudity, including full frontal, thanks to some expertly placed mirrors and other set design elements. Of course, the gore is one area in which Zombie really comes to life and the movie has several memorable bits of bloodshed, including the infamous splinter to the eye moment. I think that scene is one of the most iconic bursts of gore in horror history and to be honest, it has held up better than most special effects and puts a lot of its peers to shame. This can be said for a good deal of the blood soaked effects in Zombie, as the gore remains rock solid even decades later, even through crystal clear new restorations. This is vivid, kinetic violence too, so you see the attack, you see the wounds opened, and you see the gaping aftermath, it is all right there. The dialogue isn’t ripe with wild or ridiculous elements, but some fun lines and humorous exchanges crop up. The serious tone ensures a little unintended humor arises as well, but compared to the bloodshed and general craziness, the dialogue scores on the lower end. And speaking of the craziness, Zombie isn’t content with just the over the top gore to ratchet up the meter, as it has numerous set pieces and odd moments to drive it up as well. The splinter scene, shark vs. zombie showdown, repeated cycle of molotov cocktails, and often dead serious tone are highlight, but the movie has a lot of small, but wacky scenarios as well.
Overall Insanity: 7/10
The Disc: Blue Underground’s 4k restoration of Zombie looks incredible on Blu-ray, a much more refined, clean, and clear visual presentation. The fine detail is stunning, to the point it is hard to believe the movie can look this good and even with all the new detail and depth, the effects hold up. So while some movies tend to break down a little as resolution is added, Zombie is bolstered by this new restoration and all the gore just looks more blood soaked than ever. The colors are natural, but more saturated a little shifted, for the better. I think fans will be in Fulci heaven with this treatment, as Zombie looks excellent and light years past previous home video editions. The extras are plentiful as well, with two audio commentary tracks to start off, one with several members of the cast that proves to be informative, while Troy Howarth provides his usual session, which comes off as dull and dry as a bone. The first disc also houses an interview with Stephen Thrower, an introduction from Guillermo Del Toro, tv spots, radio spots, posters & stills, and the film’s theatrical trailers. The second is home to a wealth of interviews, with prominent cast members, producers, special effects & makeu artists, the composer, and more, for a total of about an hour and a half or so, so there’s some depth here. The limited edition also includes a CD soundtrack and a nice insert booklet, as well as one of three variant lenticular covers.