ZOMBIE 3 (1988) Reviews and overview

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Zombie 3 is a 1988 Italian science-fiction horror film about a deadly virus that is unleashed on a small island. A terrorist’s body, infected with a stolen chemical, is cremated by the typically-dim US military. Carnage ensues…

Directed (initially) by Lucio Fulci and then Claudio Fragasso and Bruno Mattei from a screenplay written by Claudio Fragasso, Lucio Fulci (uncredited) and Rossella Drudi (uncredited). Produced by Franco Gaudenzi.

The Flora Film production stars Deran Sarafian, Beatrice Ring, Ottaviano Dell’Acqua, Massimo Vanni, Ulli Reinthaler and Marina Loi.

The soundtrack score was composed by Stefano Mainetti (Tale of the Mummy; StageFright; RatMan).

Zombie 3 had a problematic production – filming was begun by Lucio Fulci, who then left the film due to serious illness (screenwriters Claudio Fragasso and an uncredited Rossella Drudi claim he shot about fifty minutes of the film, though it’s debatable how reliable they are as witnesses), and noted hack Bruno Mattei stepped in (along with Fragasso) to complete the project.

It’s ostensibly a sequel to the classic Zombi 2 aka Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979). Fans of that film will doubtless feel rightly aghast sitting through this ham-fisted shambolic effort that feels like a shoddy rehash of Mattei’s own Zombie Creeping Flesh – combined with blatant lifts from George Romero’s films The Crazies, Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead. Oh, and The Cassandra Crossing. It even copies Day of the Dead by having a dreadful song play over the closing credits!

In this haphazard affair, a deadly virus (codenamed Death One, which seems a little unsubtle for a top-secret project) is stolen from a government lab, unleashing a viral infection that soon spreads across what we are apparently supposed to believe is the US (!), yet is actually the Philippines.

Assorted characters – a bunch of vapid soldiers, a busload of girls – come and go, their presence in the film somewhat dictated by how much of the Fulci footage could be used in Mattei’s final mish-mash that now includes cutaways to arguing military morons and wildly-overacting scientists who regularly have to slow down to allow the dubbing to catch up with the mouth movements. And there is a DJ who tries (and fails) to hold the plot together before becoming a zombie himself (sorry if you think that is a spoiler, but this is hardly a film of twists and turns).

There’s the odd very mildly impressive moment in the film that stops it from being a complete and utter waste of time, and plenty of gore (though far less, and far less spectacular, than Fulci fans might expect), but it’s not hard to understand that Fulci walked off the production because the screenplay was unfit for purpose, despite his efforts at rewriting it.

Mattei was a director who struggled to shoot even a great screenplay efficiently, while Fragasso has mostly created utter rubbish such as the infamous Troll 2 and Monster Dog, and so this project (amazingly first planned in 3D!) was probably doomed from the start. Even the upbeat (why?) score by Stefano Mainetti fails to rise to the occasion.

Of course, if you are willing to abandon all logic and your own intelligence and just want to sit back and marvel at some ludicrous trash cinema, then Zombi 3 might well fit the bill – the nonsensical ideas, terrible performances, excessive gore and incoherent narrative could just about keep you entertained.

Unfortunately, this is a prime example of how Italian genre cinema (and horror in general) effectively collapsed in the late 1980s, and it’s the first black spot in Fulci’s filmography – he was aghast at the final results and understandably wanted his name taken off the credits, but the producers refused. Don’t bother with this tripe, watch Zombi 2 aka Zombie Flesh Eaters instead.

David Flint, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:
Zombie 3 is a bit of a mixed bag. Some of it is great, some of it is just good, and some of it is just terrible. It is absolutely entertaining throughout. If you’re a fan of low budget Italian genre cinema you should absolutely check out Zombie 3. If you have seen Zombie 3 in a long time, make an effort to see it again soon.” 411 Mania

“I think it’s a total blast. It’s not the classic that Zombi 2 is, but it’s a lot of fun and contains plenty of that signature gore Fulci was known for. Of course, it also contains some other Fulci standbys like horribly hilarious line readings and a mostly nonsensical plot.” Bloody Disgusting

“This vigorous mix of (literal) guts and glory has no higher purpose than lining them up and knocking them down; it’s done with so much energy that Zombi 3 practically vibrates off the screen. If you’re here for the Greatest Hits of Italian horror, they’re all accounted for as well; the florid dialogue, the misplaced emotion, the dubious dubbing – check, check, and check.” Daily Dead

Blu-ray release:

Severin Films released Zombi 3 on Blu-ray.

The Last Zombies – Interview with Co-Director/Co-Writer Claudio Fragasso and Co-Writer Rossella Drudi
Tough Guys – Interview with Actors/Stuntmen Massimo Vanni and Ottaviano Dell’Acqua
The Problem Solver
Swimming with Zombies – Interview with Actress Marina Loi
In the Zombie Factory – Interview with FX Artist Franco Di Girolamo
Audio Commentary with Stars Deran Sarafian and Beatrice Ring


Don’t watch Zombi 3, watch Zombi 2:

Cast and characters:
Deran Sarafian … Kenny Waters
Beatrice Ring … Patricia
Ottaviano Dell’Acqua … Roger Smith (as Richard Raymond)
Massimo Vanni … Bo (as Alex McBride)
Ulli Reinthaler … Nancy
Marina Loi … Carole
Deborah Bergamini … Lia
Luciano Pigozzi … Plant Director (scenes deleted) (as Alan Collins)
Rene Abadeza … Zombie (uncredited)
Roberto Dell’Acqua … Zombie on Footbridge (uncredited)
Claudio Fragasso … Soldier at the crematorium (uncredited)
Robert Marius … Doctor Holder (uncredited)
Bruno Mattei … Soldier at the crematorium (uncredited)
Mike Monty … General Morton (uncredited)
Antone Pagán … The Terrorist / Zombie (uncredited)
Maricar Totengco … Suzanna (uncredited)

Filming locations:
Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines

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