AFTER DEATH aka ZOMBIE 4: AFTER DEATH (1988) Reviews and overview

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After Death is a 1988 Italian horror film directed by Claudio Fragasso [as Clyde Anderson] (Troll 2; Monster Dog) from a screenplay by Rossella Drudi. The Flora Film production stars Jeff Stryker [as Chuck Peyton], Candice Daly and Massimo Vanni [as Alex McBride].

Now best known as Zombie 4 (it was re-titled to make it appear to be the second sequel to Zombi 2 aka Zombie Flesh Eaters), the film has also been issued as Zombie Flesh Eaters 3.

Plot:

Researchers at a remote jungle island outpost discover the natives are practising voodoo and black magic. After killing the local priest (James Sampson), a voodoo curse begins to raise the dead to feed on the living in retribution. The researchers on the island are killed by the newly risen zombies, except for Jenny (Candice Daly), the daughter of a scientist couple. She escapes, protected by an enchanted necklace charm given to her by her mother shortly before her death.

She returns years later as an adult with a group of mercenaries (Tommy, Dan, Rod and Rod’s girlfriend Louise) to try to uncover what happened to her parents. Shortly after arriving at the island their boat’s engine dies, stranding them. Meanwhile, elsewhere on the island a trio of hikers – Chuck, David, and Maddis ‘Mad’ – discover a cave, the same cave leading to the underground temple where the original curse was created. After accidentally reviving the curse, the dead once again return to kill any who trespass on their island…

Review:

Zombie 4 – originally released as After Death before it was co-opted into the series – saw Claudio Fragasso take the director’s reigns, while his wife Rossella Drudi provides the screenplay, proving herself every bit as incompetent as her other half when it came to writing efficient horror movies.

The plot is an incoherent mess and so full of holes that you’ll spend much of the film scratching your head in bewilderment, but it basically revolves around two groups of people who end up on an Island that is infested with zombies. One chap from a bunch of researchers reads from an Evil Dead-style ancient volume and resurrects the living dead – although they already seem quite spritely, attacking someone in the other group of bimbos and mercenaries. Inconsistencies like this crop up throughout the film, with Drudi and Fragasso presumably hoping that the frenetic action would stop the viewer from noticing.

Unfortunately, there is very little in the way of frenetic action. The zombies are, for the most part, so static that you could probably avoid them simply by walking at normal speed; the living characters, of course, all determinedly stay in one location rather than trying to get away from what looks like half a dozen walking dead.

There are a few novel twists – talking zombies, for one, and gay movie icon Jeff Stryker in a leading role for another. The film shows the influence of Lamberto Bava’s Demons in the early scenes – apparently tacked on to make the film longer. Fragasso and Drudi express their dislike of these scenes in the extras, but frankly, they are the best bit, ensuring it starts with a bang (it feels like a huge amount of plot exposition has been dumped before the film opens), and the first fifteen minutes or so are pretty fast-paced and outrageous. After that, unfortunately, things grind to a snail’s pace.

However, at least the zombies look like zombies, and now and again, the film briefly captures the atmosphere of Lucio Fulci’s Zombie Flesh Eaters. Al Festa – later to become a director himself, helming the stunningly terrible Fatal Frames – provides a decent Goblin-a-like score, and there are enough splattery moments to keep gorehounds more than satisfied.

It’s sad to think that the once-vibrant Italian exploitation industry fizzled out with tat like this – but for viewers who are not especially fussy and enjoy trashy, gory movies, Zombie 4 is not entirely without worth.

David Flint, MOVIES and MANIA

Special features:

First 3,000 with First-Ever Official Release Soundtrack CD of Music by Al Festa
New 2K Scan of Original Film materials
Run Zombie Run! – Interview with Director Claudio Fragasso and Screenwriter Rossella Drudi
Jeff Stryker in Manila – Interview with Actor Chuck Peyton
Blonde vs Zombies – Interview with Actress Candice Daly
Behind-The-Scenes Footage
Trailer

Reviews:

“Despite the director’s claims that the last third of the film was heavily cut, it’s still gruesome enough to please gorehounds. Given the film’s genesis and the reputation of its creators, it’s surprising that anything here is worth watching at all. That, at least, is a success of sorts.” Jim Harper, Italian Horror 1979 – 1994

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“Not many people are likely to confuse After Death with a good movie, but zombie and splatter fans can easily get their jollies here. Faces are torn off in lingering detail, chest cavities are turned into impromptu puppeting devices,  bullet squibs burst twenty times wetter than any real gunshot… well, you get the idea.” Mondo Digital

Zombie 4 reveals its tawdriness at nearly every turn […] the film stock looks like it was dragged out of a dusty warehouse, the lighting is paltry, and the zombies are a bit nondescript (outside of their ability to talk and move swiftly), especially when compared to the great designs of previous efforts.” Oh, the Horror!

“Shot in the Philippines, (where life is cheap!), the movie has decent atmosphere and makes good use of its locations. It’s well-paced, features some solid action and more than respectable cinematography. This one works better than it really should, it is, if nothing else, quite entertaining.” Rock! Shock! Pop!

“While inherently silly, Fragasso’s film is nevertheless a gory, fast-paced zombie-action film, which strips away much of the fat – not to mention any intelligence – in its rudimentary storyline, but ably succeeds at mustering-up enough energy for an undemanding night’s entertainment.” Unpopped Cinema

” …a film so amateurish and imbecilic it makes the likes of RatMan and Patrick Lives Again look like veritable masterpieces. It should be acknowledged that, while this is dreadful stuff, it is at least better than Zombie Flesh Eaters 2, which stands as possibly one of the most boring films ever made. This is partly down to Fragasso, who directs with more vim than Bruno Mattei could ever manage.” The Wild Eye

Cast and characters:

Jeff Stryker [as Chuck Peyton] … Chuck
Candice Daly as Jenny
Massimo Vanni [as Alex McBride] as David
Jim Gaines as Dan
Don Wilson as Tommy
Adrianne Josephs as Louise
Jim Moss as Mad
Nick Nicholson as Rod
James Sampson as The Voodoo Priest [uncredited]
Fausto Lombardi as Head Scientist [uncredited]
Alberto Dell’Acqua as Scientist who shoots The Voodoo Priest (uncredited]
Ottaviano Dell’Acqua as 3rd Scientist (uncredited]
Claudio Fragasso as The Narrator (voice) (uncredited]
Romano Puppo as Zombie Leader
Luciano Pigozzi [ Alan Collins] as Doctor

Maurizio Cerantola as The Balladeer (voice) [uncredited]

Buy 88 Films Blu-ray: Amazon.co.uk

Limited Edition Gloss O-Card slipcase
Limited Edition Booklet Notes by Calum Waddell
New 2K Scan of Original Film materials
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Uncompressed Original English Audio
Optional English SDH Subtitles
Run Zombie Run – Interview with Director Claudio Fragasso and Screenwriter Rosella Drudi
Flesh Eaters, Driller Killers and all-round Video Nasties – An interview with Allan Bryce
Trailer
Reversible Sleeve with Alternative Poster Design

Filming locations:

After Death was predominantly shot on location in the Philippines with the early scenes in the film shot in studios in Rome.

Original title:

Oltre la morte

Trailer:

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