Zombie: A Straight Up Bomb
By
Phil Davetas
10/4/2002 3:57:40 PM

Zombie is considered the quintessential monster flick by many, many horror geeks. True, it’s filled with bad dubbing, bad directing, bad writing (in both English and Italian), bad editing, bad music, bad cinematography and above all, bad acting. It’s got some good make-up, but… normally this is the part where horror geeks expect me to turn around and solidify their beliefs.

I just finished writing a horror script about some brain-snacking zombies invading Santa Monica, and my friend at the Cinefile says, “Have you seen Lucio Fulci’s Zombie? ” I said, “Uh-uh.” “It’s got a killer scene with a real shark versus a zombie.” So he lent me the movie. I approached it the same way I approach Dario Argento or John Carpenter -- “could give a shit.” Their movies have been horror cult classics because of their status as cult directors, but that doesn’t mean they’re any good. Truthfully, I don’t think I’ve seen any good horror filmmakers come out of Italy. I think it’s because of their fetish with blood and gore with some in-your-face T&A over story, structure and logic. But you don’t watch this for logic. Sure, I’m an idiot for watching, but I’m a sucker searching for that one good spookshow that will break the mold. Unfortunately…

There’s a scene where some chick gets naked and for some reason has a shower (sans curtain) strategically placed by a window for every limb-eating zombie to see and then gets attacked. As far as suspense goes, it is a good attack sequence, but it moves along so slow. Horror movies are supposed to move slow in those scenes because they have to milk the suspense. And this ends with the obligatory naked chick getting her eye graphically impaled by a broken slat of wood hanging from a door. It looks pretty fake, but the whole scene dances around to end it just like that. And in movie fable language, this scene is to suggest, “Don’t get naked for reasons outside of sexing it up.”

What I can never understand about dubbed flicks is why are the few actors that do speak English poorly dubbed equally as the Italian actors?

A lot of this movie just has people hiking around this little Haitian village and bumping into zombies. There aren’t any fights. Zombies just show up and they get whacked over the head and everyone escapes with the “attack” lasting about five seconds. There is one scene where this group of dumb asses (led by a reporter) who stumble onto the corpse of the naked chick and they see four zombies chowing down on livers, intestines and a hand when some chick screams. The zombies don’t turn around or anything. They just continue eating their meal. But the scene was built around trying to graphically show zombies eating real body parts, but the actors in the zombie make-up seem very squeamish and just nibble and do some of the worst on-screen eating.

There’s another scene where they’re driving through a back road and accidentally run over a zombie in their path. No one except the audience knows what they hit though. They spin off the road, crash into a bush that cripples their jeep and they decide to walk. They don’t even stop to see if the zombie’s okay. It has not yet been established that the island is been taken over by zombies.

A hoard of Spanish Conquistadors coming out of the cemetary? I would think they would be dressed of that era. Again, why analyze?

Another scene ends with one of the protagonists getting bitten by a zombie. “You’ve been bitten. Let’s get on the boat and get back to New York.” Perfect. That’s why we have AIDS today, because of bad movies like these.

What’s interesting about Voodoo is that it is a religion, and not some black magic that brings the dead back to life as portrayed in flicks like this. There are ‘bokors’, or Voodoo priests, that do house zombies, but they’re not dead. The “zombie” mind and body has been poisoned with a meticulously mixed drug that allows them to use basic motor functions. These “zombies” work as slaves for the bokor as punishment for whatever reason imposed unto them by people who pay the bokor. I just wonder where zombies began eating flesh in cinematic folklore.



Zombie (1 out of 4 Stars)
NR, 1979, 90 min., Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver, Auretta Gay, Stefania D’Amario, Olga Karlatos, Franco Fantasia, Lucio Fulci, Ugo Bologna, Dakkar, a shitload of zombies, Written by Elisa Briganti and Directed by Lucio Fulci.

Special Features:
A cool trailer with a “barf bag” tail, TV and radio spots.

 

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