Zombie Flesh Eaters – Italy, 1979 – reviews

‘When the earth spits out the Dead… they will return to tear the flesh of the Living’

Zombi 2 is a 1979 Italian horror feature film directed by Lucio Fulci (The Beyond; House by the Cemetery; City of the Living Dead; et al) from a screenplay by Elisa Briganti and (uncredited) Dardano Sacchetti. The Variety Film production stars Ian McCulloch, Tisa Farrow, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver, Auretta Gay and Olga Karlatos.

Though the title suggests this is a sequel to Zombi (the Italian release title for George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead), the films are unrelated. It is also known as ZombieIsland of the Living DeadZombie IslandZombie Flesh Eaters, Zombie Flesh-Eaters and Woodoo.

Zombi 2‘s incredible success reignited Lucio Fulci’s sagging career and reinvented the director as a horror icon. Fulci would go on to direct many more horror films, and Zombi 2 introduced some of his iconic trademarks: hordes of shambling putrefied zombies, hyper-realistic gore and blood and the infamous “eyeball gag” (a character is impaled or otherwise stabbed through the eyeball). The shark vs. zombie scene was filmed in a large salt water tank and the shark was fed horse meat and sedatives before filming.

The film is being unleashed by Blue Underground as a 3-disc limited edition that includes two Blu-ray discs and a CD soundtrack on November 27, 2018. The release comes with a choice of 3D Lenticular Slipcover featuring 3 different iconic scenes from Lucio Fulci’s gore classic.

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“World premiere of brand-new 4K restoration from the uncensored original camera negative, Limited Collector’s Edition includes 1080p Feature on Blu-ray, bonus High Def Extras Blu-ray, Soundtrack CD, collectible booklet, reversible sleeve with original US poster artwork (pictured below), and special 3D lenticular slipcover (first pressing only).

Bursting at the seams with hours of new and archival extras:

Disc 1 (Blu-ray):

  •  New! Audio Commentary #1 with Troy Howarth, Author of Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films
  • Audio Commentary #2 with Star Ian McCulloch and Diabolik Magazine Editor Jason J. Slater
  • New! When The Earth Spits Out The Dead – Interview with Stephen Thrower, Author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • TV Spots
  • Radio Spots
  • Poster and Still Gallery
  • Guillermo del Toro Intro

Disc 2 (Blu-ray):

  • Zombie Wasteland – Interviews with Stars Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson & Al Cliver, and Actor/Stuntman Ottaviano Dell’Acqua
  • Flesh Eaters on Film – Interview with Co-Producer Fabrizio De Angelis
  • Deadtime Stories – Interviews with Co-Writers Elisa Briganti and (Uncredited) Dardano Sacchetti
  • World of the Dead – Interviews with Cinematographer Sergio Salvati and Production and Costume Designer Walter Patriarca
  • Zombi Italiano – Interviews with Special Make-Up Effects Artists Gianetto De Rossi & Maurizio Trani and Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi
  • Notes on a Headstone – Interview with Composer Fabio Frizzi
  • All in the Family – Interview with Antonella Fulci
  • Zombie Lover – Award-Winning Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro talks about one of his favorite films

Disc 3 (CD):

Bonus Collectable Booklet with new essay by Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci author and MOVIES & MANIA contributor Stephen Thrower

Specs:

  • Video: Widescreen 2.40:1
  • Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HD; English 1.0 DTS-HD; Italian 7.1 DTS-HD; Italian 1.0 DTS-HD
  • Optional Subtitles: English SDH, Français, Español, Português, Deutsch, Italiano, Dansk, Suomi, Nederlands, Svenska, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, English for Italian Audio
  • All Regions”

Plot:

An apparently abandoned yacht drifts into New York harbour. When the Harbour Patrol investigates, a huge decomposing man kills one of the officers by biting his neck. The remaining officer shoots the hulking man, a zombie, who topples into the sea. The body of the deceased officer is deposited in the morgue.

Ann Bolt (Tisa Farrow) is questioned by the police, since the boat belonged to her father (Ugo Bologna). She only knows that her father left for a tropical island to do research. Reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch) is assigned by his news editor (director Lucio Fulci in a cameo) to report on the mysterious vessel.

Anne and Peter meet on the yacht and discover a note from Anne’s father saying he is on the island of Matool (Saint Thomas, US Virgin Islands) suffering from a strange disease. Anne and Peter decide to investigate together. They arrive in the tropics and enlist the aid of a seafaring couple, Bryan Curt (‘Al Cliver’ aka Pier Luigi Conti) and Susan Barrett (Auretta Gay), to help find the island.

Matool is a cursed place where the dead rise to attack the living. Dr. David Menard (Richard Johnson), a resident on the island and physician at the local mission, is investigating its secrets. His contemptuous, highly strung wife Paola (Olga Karlatos) wants to leave the island in fear of the increasing zombie attacks, but Menard insists on staying to continue his research…

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Reviews:

Zombie Flesh-Eaters is not a masterpiece, but a sort of ‘pop classic’ of Italian horror. In terms of its construction it’s neither suspenseful enough to bear comparison with Fulci’s gialli, nor oblique enough to be considered as visual poetry, as his next few movies deserved. It’s also lumbered with a bathetic, laughable coda, remembered almost as often as the classic eye impalement scene.” Stephen Thrower, Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci

Buy Beyond TerrorAmazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.ca

“Fulci’s scene of the risen Conquistadores is just one dazzlingly confected set-piece in a film replete with them. Though much féted, the scene in which an aquatic zombie battles a visibly doped-up Tiger shark is limply put together from what was (presumably) insufficient coverage but the final assault on Menard’s infirmary by the zombie hordes is stunningly well sustained.” Jonathan Rigby, Euro Gothic

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“Where many directors of this time period opted for a more psychological approach to moments of violence, cutting away from the most gory moments and allowing the audience to fill in the blanks in their minds, Fulci did the exact opposite in Zombie. Rather than cut away, he zoomed in, making sure the viewer could see every bit of brain matter and viscera. Aided by the top-notch makeup effects, this is a movie that says, “sometimes more is more.” Film Pulse

Releases:

In the UK, the film was released theatrically by Miracle Films in March 1980, shortly before Dawn of the Dead, double-billed with The Toolbox Murders (both films having been heavily censored by the British Board of Film Classification; Flesh Eaters was cut by 1m 46s, having been awarded with an ‘X’ certificate on 2nd January 1980 ).

On home video it was released by Vipco in the BBFC-approved ‘X’ rated version in 1980. A year or two later, Vipco released the ‘strong uncut version’. This edition would be placed on the Director of Public Prosecutions list of “video nasties“, and the film was subsequently re-released in various censored editions – with fewer cuts each time until it was finally passed uncut by the BBFC in 2005.

The memorable tagline for the UK release, “When the earth spits out the dead… they will return to tear the flesh of the living…” was inspired by the similar “when there’s no more room in Hell…” tagline for Dawn of the Dead.

Zombi 2 was released as Zombie in the USA in 1980 by The Jerry Gross Organisation and was considered a stand-alone film with no connection to Romero’s zombie canon. The theatrical trailers for Zombie provided the memorable tagline of “We Are Going to Eat You!” and showcased some of the make-up effects, but did nothing to indicate the plot of the picture (although the audience was indeed warned about the graphic content of the film: a humorous crawl at the end of the preview promises “barf bags” to whoever requested them upon viewing the film).

The film developed a massive cult following after its release on home video, although a series of low budget releases from Wizard Video, Magnum Entertainment and Edde Entertainment (through subsidiary T-Z Video) featured a muddy full screen transfer of the film that angered hardcore fans. In February 1998, the film was released on VHS, DVD and laserdisc by Anchor Bay and The Roan Group respectively. Both versions used a widescreen film print. But more complaints were made about the transfer, which was still dark and muddy as with the film’s original VHS release. The VHS/DVD/laserdisc version also omitted several shots of nudity from the film and other miscellaneous bits because of print damage.

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Five years later, Blue Underground and Media Blasters, the latter of which used their Shriek Show horror banner, struck a deal to release the film on DVD yet again, this time with a newly remastered, uncut version of the film from the original negative. Now truly complete and no longer muddy looking, the two DVDs were released with Media Blasters using the film’s original name Zombi 2 while Blue Underground released the film under the American title Zombie name. The Media Blasters release also contained a second disc filled with bonus material. The Media Blasters and Blue Underground releases differ slightly in their video. The Blue Underground version is encoded for progressive scan while the MB release is not.

Also worth noting are the differences between the 2004 Media Blasters and Blue Underground releases and the 1998 Anchor Bay disc, which often get confused. While Anchor Bay has a history of showing a great deal of respect for the preservation of purity in original director-approved and uncut film releases, the 1998 Anchor Bay release of Zombi 2 inexplicably has a few seconds of footage omitted which can be found intact on the 2004 Blue Underground and Media Blasters releases. Both feature comparable digitally remastered, anamorphic 16:9 transfers, Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks as well as bonus materials.

The film was released by Blue Underground on Blu-ray (as well as a new DVD edition) on 25 October 2011 with a new 2K transfer.

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In 2012, the Death Waltz Recording Company released a limited edition vinyl soundtrack album of the film featuring new artwork by Graham Humphreys, and this artwork subsequently appeared on the 2013 Arrow Films UK Blu-ray release.

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In one of the more unexpected cultural references to the film, the shark scene featured in a Windows 7 commercial in 2010, on a fictitious website called “Zombie Companion”, where the footage is visible dubbed over with nature documentary-style narration.

Buy: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

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