Zombie: Flesh Eaters (1979)

Rating:

aka Zombi 2

Italy. 1979.

Crew

Director – Lucio Fulci, Screenplay – Elisa Briganti, Producers – Fabrizio De Angelis & Ugo Tucci, Photography – Sergio Salvati, Music – Fabio Frizzi & Giorgio Tucci, Special Effects – Gianetto de Rossi, Makeup Effects – De Rossi & Maurizio Trani, Production Design – Walter Pantriarca. Production Company – Variety Films

Cast

Tisa Farrow (Anne Bowles), Ian McCulloch (Peter West), Richard Johnson (Dr Menard), Al Cliver (Briant), Auretta Gray (Susan)


Plot

A yacht sails into New York harbour without anybody aboard. While investigating, police are attacked by zombies. Anne Bowles, the daughter of the yacht’s owner, and reporter Peter West head to the Caribbean island of Matoul to find her father. On the island, they find that the dead everywhere are returning to life, hungry for the flesh of the living.


Zombie – Flesh Eaters was the first of the numerous Italian ripoffs of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978). Dawn of the Dead was released in Italy as Zombi. With enterprising fortitude, Zombie – Flesh Eaters was released only a few months later and billed itself as Zombi 2 in Italy. (There have been several other films billing themselves as unofficial sequels to Dawn of the Dead, going all the way up to Zombi‘s 4 and 5, and with at least three films claiming the title Zombi 3). Zombie – Flesh Eaters was also the film that launched Lucio Fulci out of the relative obscurity and allowed him to briefly shine in the early eighties as a hardcore charnel poet with such cultish gore films as City of the Living Dead/Gates of Hell (1980), The Beyond/The Seven Doors of Death (1981) and The House By the Cemetery (1981).

Lucio Fulci clearly sets out to imitate the smorgasbord of gory dispatches that George Romero offered up in Dawn of the Dead. Some of these are fairly way out – the most notable being an underwater confrontation between zombie and shark with the zombie finally tearing the shark apart with its teeth. There is an attack on a woman by a zombie, ending in the almost unwatchably nasty scene of her eye being impaled on a shard of wood. The film builds to an impressively all-out splatter climax with the humans on the island defending themselves against the zombie onslaught. The film certainly does not hold back on gore – in fact, it is its raison d’etre. Outside of the various gore scenes however, there is not much to the film. Zombie – Flesh Eaters exists in various cut and uncut international versions – the cut ones eliminate any reason that anyone might want to see it. The crucial difference between George Romero and Lucio Fulci is that Romero’s films have a whole other dimension, they are apocalyptic horror films with a dark and biting social commentary. Lucio Fulci’s films begin and end with novelty gore – when Fulci has a Romero-esque apocalyptic ending here, there is nothing bleakly disturbing to it like there was at the end of Night of the Living Dead (1968), it is merely a surprise twist ending.

There are occasional moments – the opening is an eerie scene right out of Nosferatu (1922) with an empty yacht entering New York as a harbinger of doom. The zombie makeups are particularly gruesome – unlike Romero’s zombies, these zombies are rotting and oozing pus. The cast, including Mia Farrow’s sister Tisa, is unmemorable and the dubbing is sometimes several seconds out of synch.

Lucio Fulci’s other genre films are:– Perversion Story (1969), Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971), Don’t Torture the Duckling (1972), Dracula in the Provinces (1975), The Psychic (1977), City of the Living Dead/Gates of Hell (1980), The Beyond/The Seven Doors to Death (1981), The Black Cat (1981), The House By the Cemetery (1981), The New York Ripper (1981), Manhattan Baby/Eye of the Evil Dead/The Possessed (1982), Conquest (1983), Rome 2072 A.D. (1983), Murderock (1984), The Devil’s Honey/Dangerous Obsession (1986), Aenigma (1987), Touch of Death/When Alice Broke the Mirror (1988), Zombi 3 (1988), Demonia (1990), Nightmare Concert (1990), Voices from Beyond (1991) and Door to Silence (1992).



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