View Full Version : Zombie review

04-19-2003, 07:31 AM
I wrote this review for my MSN Group Euro Horror DVDs (http://www.msnusers.com/eurohorrordvds), then decided I should post it here, too. Here goes:

In 1979, George Romero's classic Dawn of the Dead was sent to Italy via the film's producer, Dario Argento, and slapped with the somewhat generic title Zombi. Soon after, a hoard of zombie films seemingly took over Italy, including Lucio Fulci's gore masterpiece, Zombi 2 (aka Zombie, Zombie Flesh Eaters, Island of the Living Dead, etc.). Is this confusing? Yes. Is the film wonderful? Yes. Is it a rip-off of Dawn of the Dead? Yes and no. Supposedly, writer Dardano Sacchetti completed the first draft of the script several months before Dawn of the Dead was released in Italy.

In Italy, the film was a success, allowing director Lucio Fulci to follow up Zombie with other horror films such as City of the Living Dead (aka The Gates of Hell), The Beyond (aka Seven Doors of Death), House By the Cemetery, and New York Ripper. Today he is most popular within horror fan circles, and little known outside of them. Anchor Bay has decided to reissue Zombie, after their first DVD went out of print. The reissue is identical (except for the packaging) to their original DVD. Let's take a look and see if Zombie is given the great DVD treatment it deserves.

The Plot

A woman named Anne Bowles (Tisa Farrow, sister of Mia) and a reporter, Peter West (Ian McCulloch, Zombie Holocaust) travel to the Caribbean island of Matool to locate her missing father. Dr. Menard (Richard Johnson) is experimenting with the dead, and the local villagers are practicing voodoo (though this plot device is only touched on), causing the dead to return to life in search of the flesh of the living! Soon, Anne and Peter, along with some other fellow travelers (Al Cliver and Auretta Gay), must fight for their lives and try to stop the zombies once and for all!

This summary is rather plain, but I don't want to give too much of the story and spoil all of the surprises in store for the viewer. There are a couple of notorious scenes that this film is particularly known for, and both of them are a sight to behold. Fulci garnered the title 'Godfather of Gore' in part because of this film, and also because of the many others which proceeded it. And there is plenty of gore to satisfy the gorehound in us all, I can tell you that for sure!

I love this film, and I always have. I first rented it on an old pan-and-scan VHS, and the quality was horrible. But the film was always interesting, despite the terrible cropping the film received. These old videocassettes gave the film a very unprofessional look, and it isn't the way to see this great film. This has to be my favorite Euro horror film, besides Argento's Profondo Rosso (aka Deep Red). Fulci made many other classics (my least favorite of them has to be House by the Cemetery, although I still like that film), but this one has always been my favorite of them. Fulci is definitely a love-him-or-hate-him director, and you have to acquire a taste for his work.

Sure, the film has some bad qualities, but you also must learn to overlook them in order to enjoy it. The dubbing isn't very good, and the first part of the film moves somewhat slowly. But there are ultimately more plusses than minuses to this film, in my opinion. One of the best things about the film is the music-- the throbbing, pulsating synthesizer beat is very effective and haunting, and works well throughout the movie. Also, the zombie makeup is arguably the best ever displayed on film. The presence of stars Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, and Tisa Farrow don't hurt either. Zombie is a classic of the genre, not to mention a very fun movie, which is a must-see for any gorehound or Euro horror fanatic.

Rating: 5/5

Video Quality

It is no wonder that Anchor Bay is one of the leading horror DVD companies, with such films as Suspiria, Deep Red, Opera, etc. given wonderful transfers and great extras. But for some reason, AB somewhat let us down with their Zombie DVD. While the picture quality is good, it could have been better. The film is in widescreen (2.35:1). Obviously, AB didn't put as much work on this disc as they had with the previously mentioned titles. There is a lot of grain found throughout this film, along with a lot of other little problems. For instance, an annoying blue line can be found at the top of the screen. When you play the movie, you can also find a lot of rough cuts... take for instance the opening scene when the movie first starts. You will know what I mean when you see it as there is no other way to describe it. Over all, the quality is light-years better than previous VHS incarnations, and for the low price (you can find this DVD under $10 at some retailers) I suppose it is worth it.

Rating: 3/5

Sound Quality

The sound has some problems too, which are passable when you consider the low price of this disc. Included on the disc is a Dolby Surround 5.1 track and a Dolby Digital Mono track. After comparing both of them, I would definitely recommend the Mono track over the 5.1 track. The 5.1 track is alright, but at times dialogue sounds very tinny and shallow, and the wonderful score isn't given a whole lot of depth. The Mono, in my opinion, sounds much more natural, but then again, I don't own a fancy speaker system so I wouldn't know for sure. You should probably test both of the tracks to see which one you like best, as this is only my opinion.

Rating: 3/5

Special Features

While this disc is low on extras, the ones AB have included are nice for what they are worth. First off, we have an audio commentary with star Ian McCulloch and Jason J. Slater, editor of Diabolik Magazine. This commentary is nice, but for the most part slightly boring, since Ian can't seem to remember much about the film. But the things he does remember are interesting, and Jason pitches in once in a while to keep the track moving.

Other features are standard: theatrical trailer, TV spots, and radio spots. There isn't much for me to say here; the trailer and spots were all very interesting.

Rating: 3.5/5


This disc is well worth the low price, but it will definitely leave fans wanting more. I would probably buy this disc even if it had no extras, because I love the movie, but casual fans might want to give this a rental first. Even if you don't like the film, you won't be losing a lot of money if you do buy the disc. There is a rumor that Shriek Show will also be releasing Zombie, but there is no word yet on what all will be on the disc. If you are a fan of the film, you might want to wait until SS releases theirs... hopefully the overall quality of the disc will be better than this.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

04-19-2003, 07:39 AM
yeah this is definitally a great film, altho i feel its slightly overrated.

the F/X in my opinion are godly and the zombie on the DVD cover is one of my all time favorites.

i totally agree with you about the first part of the movie going slow, in my opinion, it only really picks up at the great splinter scene

nice review!

04-19-2003, 07:40 AM
Thanks. I agree... that cover is awesome and the special FX are excellent! :)

04-19-2003, 09:28 AM
Zombie is definitly one of my favories in the zombie genre. Although I will admit it is a little slower than I would like, but the soundtrack more than makes up for it.

04-19-2003, 12:00 PM
I'm going to watch this tonight now ;)

This release is certainly not definitive. It's one of those rare ones where I'd buy it again too!

04-19-2003, 06:54 PM
ZOMBIE is awesome. Didn't like it on my first viewing but after a second I love it to death. I'm glad to see someone else note that the video quality really isn't that bad, just not really good. I have to disagree on the sound though, as I think the 5.1 remix is one of the best I've heard from a Euro flick. To each his own though...

04-19-2003, 07:49 PM
Zombie does have a slow start, but the last half is excellent!

As far as the quality was concerned, I thought the pic pretty much sucked. Way better on the laserdisc.

Hopefully the new edition from Shriek Show will be far better.

04-19-2003, 07:53 PM
I just found the picture dissapointing, I guess it was worth the $10 I paid for it but then again I also bought Killer Klowns From Outer Space: Collector's Edition for that price. So I was either ripped off on the Zombie dvd or I got a good deal on the KKFOS dvd. Oh well, it'll last me until Shriek Show's new release of it.

04-19-2003, 08:01 PM
Do not get me wrong on the Zombie picture quality, it is watchable.

By the way, my copy is from the first version of Zombie that AB put out several years ago.

Does anyone know if they have improved the picture quality on the newer version that they released?

Thanks much for any info on this.

04-19-2003, 08:51 PM
I don't own the old one, just the reissue, so I wouldn't know. But I thought the picture quality wasn't that bad for the price.

When SS releases theirs, though, I will definitely be picking it up! ;)

04-19-2003, 08:55 PM
nah they didnt improve the picture quality between releases

now i am gonna let you all in on a little known secret! i paid 50$ for the first Zombie AB disc!!! this was when it was OOP, but the 2nd one wasnt announced yet :nervous: :nervous:

04-19-2003, 09:03 PM
Sorry to hear that Jeff, cause that sucks.

Also sorry to hear that they did not bother to improve the transfer for the second release.

Thanks for the info Jeff.

04-19-2003, 09:53 PM
--When SS releases theirs, though, I will definitely be picking it up!--

Good God, hasn't this been rumoured forever? Where the hell IS it????????!?!?!?

04-19-2003, 09:57 PM
That dwatts, is one hell of a good question! :lol:

04-19-2003, 10:01 PM
Let's face it, it's had time to come alive, die, eat some people, die and come alive again by now. Someone send SS the Book of the Dead so they can resurrect some of their "releases".


04-19-2003, 10:06 PM
:lol: :lol: :lol:

So very, very true. :D

The nice thing is that there is so much stuff coming out all of the time that I can not afford it all anyway, and besides my old laserdisc is still pretty damn good.

04-19-2003, 10:18 PM
LOL! True, why do these companies have to leave us on the edge of our seats like that?? Just look at Grindhouse and Cannibal Holocaust! :nervous: :lol:

04-19-2003, 10:23 PM
Good point Ryan.

We have only been waiting on that one for YEARS!

Hopefully I will live long enough for them to get around to releasing it. :lol:

04-19-2003, 11:52 PM
The main theme from Zombie is sweet. My buddy bought this on VHS back in the day and we enjoyed the hell out of it.

04-20-2003, 03:38 AM
Yeah, the Zombie soundtrack is one of my favorites besides the soundtrack to Cannibal Ferox. I am thinking about buying that CD that Rotten Cotten is selling with both soundtracks. Does anyone own it and can tell me what the quality is like??

04-20-2003, 05:59 AM
You guys must've missed this thread: http://horrordvds.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=11202&highlight=zombie

04-21-2003, 05:31 PM
To reiterate what I have said in past ZOMBIE threads, I think the transfer is just fine. This is a grainy and murky little film, and the transfer presents it as it should be.

I really like ZOMBIE as a film though, there are some great moments, and for my money it is a much better film than COTLD. And I agree with you Jeff, that cover ZOMBIE is one of the best of all time.

Keep up the great reviews Ryan!

04-21-2003, 09:33 PM
Thanks, Rhett! Although I know they'll never be as good as yours! :D

I love ZOMBIE... to me, it is slightly better than COTLD, but I still love them both.

Can't wait until SS releases their version of ZOMBIE, though! I'm definitely snatching it up! :D

04-26-2003, 01:03 AM
Great box art and greater movie. 2 severed thumbs up :)