Zombie Holocaust is a 1980 Italian horror film directed by Marino Girolami. The movie stars Ian McCulloch (Zombie Flesh Eaters; Contamination), Alexandra Delli Colli (The New York Ripper) and Donald O’Brien (Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals). Known in Italy as Zombi Holocaust, it is also known as Zombie 3 and Zombies unter Kannibalen.
Following the success of his Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977) and Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979), producer Fabrizio De Angelis came up with the idea of cashing in on both films’ subjects at the same time. He re-used the basic story of Zombie Flesh Eaters and added elements of cannibal films. Furthermore, the scene in which Alexandra Delli Colli is anointed as a naked blonde goddess is a rip-off a similar highlight featuring Ursula Andress in The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978).
For the film’s U.S. release, Terry Levene’s Aquarius Releasing re-titled the film Doctor Butcher M.D. (perhaps because slasher films were all the rage?), slightly reduced the violence and gore, and inserted graveyard ghoul footage before the opening credits (one tombstone reads ‘Snuff Maximus’) from Tales That Will Rip Your Heart Out, an unreleased short film by Roy Frumkes (Document of the Dead; Street Trash).
Levene also replacing Nico Fidenco’s pulsing, synth score (a slight reworking of his Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals soundtrack) with a grating aural assault by American composer Walter Sear (The Oracle; Blood Sisters; Lurkers) that was apparently originally used for a seedy Roberta Findlay adult movie, Anyone But My Husband in 1975.
Aquarius (who also released Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond as 7 Doors of Death; Umberto Lenzi’s Make Them Die Slowly and U.S. sci-fi horror exploiter Evils of the Night) even created a travelling “Butchermobile” to promote the movie in New York (see images from Gore Gazette below). Before the film’s US Shriek Show release on DVD, this Doctor Butcher M.D. re-edit was the version most North Americans saw via Paragon and Thriller VHS releases.
- Featurette: Butchery & Ballyhoo: Interview with Aquarius Releasing’s Terry Levine
- Featurette: Down On The Deuce: Nostalgic Tour Of 42nd Street With Temple Of Shock’s Chris Poggiali and Filmmaker Roy Frumkes
- Roy Frumkes’ Segment Of Unfinished Anthology Film ‘Tales That Will Tear Your Heart Out’
- Featurette: The Butcher Mobile: Interview with Gore Gazette Editor & Butcher Mobile Barker Rick Sullivan
- Featurette: Cutting Doctor Butcher: Interview with Editor Jim Markovic
- Illustrated Essay: Experiments With A Male Caucasian Brain (…and other memories of 42nd Street) by Gary Hertz
- Theatrical Trailer
- Video Release Trailer 1
- Video Release Trailer 2
- Featurette: Voodoo Man: Interview With Star Ian McCulloch
- Featurette: Blood Of The Zombies: Interview With FX Master Rosario Prestopino
- Featurette: Filmmaker Enzo Castellari Remembers His Father Director Marino Girolami
- Featurette: Sherry Holocaust: Interview With Actress Sherryl Buchanan
- Featurette: Neurosurgery Italian Style -Interview With FX Artist Maurizio Trani
- Featurette: New York Filming Locations Then Vs. Now. A look at the Big Apple locales as they are today
- Audio Bonus: Ian McCulloch Sings Down By The River
- International Trailer
- German Trailer
In New York City, a hospital worker is found to have been devouring bodies in the morgue. Morgue assistant and anthropology expert Lori (Alexandra Delli Colli) discovers he was from the Molucca islands where she grew up.
Anthropologist Doctor Peter Chandler (Ian McCulloch) investigates, and he and Lori discover that similar corpse mutilations have occurred in other city hospitals, where immigrants from this region are working.
Doctor Chandler leads an expedition to the islands to investigate, where he liaises with Doctor Obrero (Donald O’Brien). Included are his assistant George, George’s eager journalist girlfriend Susan, Lori, local boatsman Molotto assigned by Obrero and three guides.
The crew are hunted by cannibals and zombies, the latter created by the sinister Doctor Obrero who is experimenting with corpses…
- All-Region Codes
- Eaten Alive: The Rise and Fall of the Italian Cannibal Film: New feature-length documentary from High Rising Productions charting the genesis and collapse of the short-lived, but controversial, innards-eating genre. Featuring contributions from filmmakers Ruggero Deodato (Cannibal Holocaust), Umberto Lenzi (Cannibal Ferox) and Sergio Martino (Mountain of the Cannibal God), actors Me Me Lai (Last Cannibal World) and Robert Kerman (Eaten Alive!), film critic Kim Newman (Nightmare Movies), director Luigi Cozzi (Starcrash) and more.
- Original theatrical trailers
“Though the basic premise of exploitation is to rip-off successful film trends, too many aspects of the film mirror Fulci’s “Zombie”, from identical settings, cast (Ian McCulloch and Dakkar both star in the film), and plot devices. However similar the overarching storylines may be, the cannibal aspect of the film makes it too damn fun to make a casual viewer care.” Cinematic Wasteland
“The film’s reason for being is to show bloody scalpings, bodies being eaten and ripped to bits, interspersed with shots of Colli’s body.” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror
“As with most Italian cannibal films, the savages are played by real natives and presented with almost unpalatable realism. Some of the gore effects are quite good but other than that the movie is a stock accumulation of familiar motifs.” Peter Dendle, The Zombie Movie Encyclopedia
“It isn’t plagued by the almost requisite animal violence seen in most entries, and while it delivers the gore in spades, it also piles on the cheese by the pound! And despite the provocative title, there are only about six or seven zombies in the entire movie. The zombie makeup is some of the weakest ever seen on the screen, but the special effects are still amazing stuff.” DVD Drive-In
“Featuring some of the worst zombie make up in the entire run of Italian Romero knock-offs, the movie gets by not because it’s competently made but because it’s bat-shit crazy. Infamous for its scene in which McCulloch’s character handily disposes of a shambling corpse by using a conveniently placed outboard motor, the movie’s chock full of gore…” Rock! Shock! Pop!
“Ian McCulloch doesn’t really bother varying his performance from the one he gave in Zombie Flesh Eaters (his character is even called Peter again) – he just stands around looking worried, which is fair enough, since Donald O’Brien’s scene-chewing portrayal of Dr Obrero conquers all before it. Meanwhile, New York Ripper star Alexandra Delli Colli finds several opportunities to take her clothes off and gets an all-over cannibal paint job as a reward.” The Spinning Image
“Director Marino Girolami was a veteran filmmaker who was ending a long career with his work on Zombie Holocaust and you have to admire the fact that, as opposed to many other filmmakers who have found themselves in a similar situation, he made an honest and unapologetic exploitation film, a shameless rip-off of about a thousand other films. Instead of being embarrassed by the film’s silliness, he instead embraced it and his cast did the same.” Through the Shattered Lens
“While not exactly a masterpiece, Zombie Holocaust is fairly lively and the mix of cannibals, zombies and mad doctor just about works – at least, the film never becomes dull, and gorehounds will be more than happy with the amount of graphic violence.” David Flint, Zombie Holocaust: How the Living Dead Devoured Pop Culture, 2009
“If there’s anything to commend with regards to Zombi Holocaust it may be the honesty with which it was made. There is never, in the whole of its 84 minutes, a single moment in which it ever tries to be anything more than what it is, and its title is a veritable monument to tactless commercialism.” WTF-Film
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” … great fun for fans who see the whole subgenre as one big sleazy joke. Extreme gore comes early and often. Guts, more guts, eyes, brains … The mad doctor is familiar. But so what? It’s quick, it’s fast-paced, it’s ridiculous, and it offers what it promises.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers
“Gore, gore and more gore. That’s what you came for, that’s what you’re gonna get here. None it is particularly well done, but it’s warm, gooey and an intentional gross-out.” The Terror Trap
“A disjointed mess of a film with some mildly amusing grotesque set-pieces knitted together by interminably long, boring attempts at a plot. Zombie Holocaust has something of a reputation for its admittedly competent gruesome cannibals scenes and its connection to the superior Zombi 2, but otherwise, it’s a forgettable jungle romp that can’t even make the setting look as exotic or enticing as it should be.” Dr Arnold T Blumberg, Andrew Hershberger, Zombiemania: 80 Movies To Die For