Friday, April 24, 2009
Zombie (1979, Lucio Fulci)
I will have to thank a friend in high school for introducing me to this film. Actually I am the one who introduced him to Zombie films in the first place (Night of the Living Dead) but it was through his immediate fascination with this genre that he sought out this film, which he had read was supposedly a classic. He actually couldn't find a copy of Zombie so he instead bought a copy of Zombie 2. Little did we know at the time that the films are actually the same. It was released in Italy as Zombie 2 (or Zombi 2) to cash in on George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead, which was released in Italy as Zombie (aka Zombi). I distinctly remember sitting in my room with two of my best friends watching this and being amazed by the incredible makeup effects (courtesy of the master Giannetto De Rossi). It was actually several years later when I finally saw the film again. My brother in law was into Zombie movies and he mentioned how he wanted to see Lucio Fulci's Zombie. I ended up buying him a copy for his birthday (which I may or may not have borrowed a few years ago and still have). Shortly after watching it again, I was blessed with the chance to see Zombie at the best movie theater in Massachusetts (The Coolidge in Brookline). It was one of the greatest movie going experiences of my life (probably tied with seeing Friday the 13th part 3 in 3D, also at The Coolidge). The crowd was totally into the film, making jokes, laughing at the silly dubbing and cheering at the non-stop gore. It was magic.
With a title as generic and simple as Zombie, you need to have a damn good film to back it up. Fortunately Lucio Fulci knows just how to do that. First the film starts with a seemingly abandoned ship floating into a New York harbor. When the local harbor patrol step on board to check out the ship, they find nothing but rotting food covered with worms and maggots...oh and a huge fat bald madman that rips one of the officers to shreds. Fatty is shot and falls overboard, leading the police and newspapers to question who the man was and where the boat came from. It turns out that the boat belongs to a scientist, who's daughter Anne (Tisa Farrow - Mia Farrow's sister) decides to investigate where he is. With the help of reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch), they discover that his last notes say that he was on an island called Matool. They hitch a ride with a couple on holiday, Brian and Susan (Al Cliver and Auretta Gay), to find Matool. They soon realize something is wrong when Susan is attacked by a man underwater in the middle of the sea. They finally reach Matool and learn from the island's doctor (Richard Johnson) that Anne's father was dead and that something horrible is happening on the island causing the dead to come alive.
As I mentioned in my review of Fulci's The Beyond, that film and Zombie seem to be disputed among fans as Fulci's masterpiece. Though I would probably pick The Beyond as my favorite, Zombie is itself an inimitable classic and easily one of the greatest Zombie films ever made. Everything from the story to the makeup effects to Fabio Frizzi and Giorgio Tucci's musical score to the tropical locales are perfect. The film goes by at a very quick pace and features one of the most painful deaths ever filmed. It also features the greatest zombie fight scene ever (I'll give you a hint, it takes place underwater). Do yourself a favor and go rent this now or better yet, go buy the Shriek Show 2 disc 25th anniversary DVD. You can thank me by leaving a comment or mailing me cool stuff. I will name check you and you can share my fame!