Zombie Flesh Eaters, 1979
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Starring Ian Mculloch, Tisa Farrow, Richard Johnson and Al Cliver
A seemingly abandoned sailboat arrives in New York City; however, when police check it out they are attacked by an assailant of the not quite dead variety. Soon after, reporter Peter West comes into contact with Anne Bowles, whose father owned the boat and who was last seen on a research expedition to the Caribbean island of Matul. As our leads travel to the island, the possibly insane Dr Menard and his wife are attempting to figure out the cause of an increasingly deadly undead uprising, which soon threatens to engulf the rest of the world.
From the legendary “godfather of gore” Lucio Fulci, comes Zombie Flesh Eaters or Zombi 2 as it was called in its native Italy, where it was made mainly to cash in on the success of the previous year’s Dawn of the Dead, released under the title Zombi.
However, while it would easy to dismiss this film as a quick cash grab dreamed up by greedy producers eager for a slice of the undead pie, it’s a much more enjoyable film than that.
Plus, it’s probably the only film in which you’ll see a zombie fight a shark, so can’t knock it for creativity.
Being that, this film is best known as one of the infamous “video nasties” of the 1980s, you can almost guarantee that Fulci’s film is going to have its fair share of gore and guts, essentially making it the worst Christmas present to give to your elderly grandmother.
The effects work, in conjunction with some pretty spot on (not mention squelchy) sound design, ensures that many of the film’s deaths are suitably cringe-inducing and stomach churning. Especially the now infamous scene, in which a sharp splinter and a person’s eye decide to have a merger, try and watch that scene without wincing, I dare you.
Of course what most people remember about this film, besides the marriage between the eye and the splinter, is when a zombie decides to pick a fight with Jaws himself in a truly weird yet really cool sequence. Although while the zombie is on top form, the sharks acting is decidedly lacking in quality, probably because of all the sedatives it had to take so it wouldn’t accidently eat the trainer playing the zombie.
The film’s acting is, well largely dubbed, so I can’t really comment on the performances too much. We do, however, have a British leading man battling the zombies, a Scotsman no less in the form of Ian McCulloch, who by virtue of his nationality alone is automatically my favourite actor in the film; he also supposedly didn’t know a film about zombies would be violent, the idiot.
The film’s soundtrack is -as is often the case with European horror films of the period – excellent, being not only a brilliant sound to score zombies being blasted and burned, but is honestly quite good to listen to on its own in places.
Let’s be honest, though, this is not a good film. Like at all. The dialogue is dubbed, sometimes awkwardly, the plot is the usual clichéd “the dead rise and we’re all fucked story” that’s been done a dozen times before and better.
But I’ll tell you this, without any hint of a lie, I adore this film. Like Night of the Living Dead before it, the ropey, clichéd, cheesy qualities are what make it, for me at least, part of the overall fun of watching it.
The gory effects are just so over the top that I find myself laughing like a psychopath at them; the wonky dubbing and gooey sound effects, and the action-packed finale only makes the film all the more fun. It’s not going to win any awards anytime soon, but who really cares when you’re having this much fun.
Zombie Flesh Eaters is simply another great slice of the great gory pizza that is 1970s/80s Italian horror cinema.
It’s not going to do you much good in the long run, but you’ll just enjoy the deliciousness of the experience if you get the meaning behind my frankly confusing and tortured metaphor.
Check it out, especially with your friends, as this is a film best viewed with drinks and popcorn, or pizza for that matter.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★