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Old 10-07-2004, 11:34 PM
 
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Zombie: Special Edition




Reviewer: Styx
Review Date: October 2, 1999

Released by: The Roan Group
Release date: March 3, 1998
MSRP $49.95 (OOP)
NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: N/A



In 1979 George Romero released his epic zombie film Dawn of the Dead in the US, and it changed the face of horror. Released internationally by Dario Argento and retitled Zombi, the film proved to be a major success across the board. With the huge success of Dawn of the Dead, Italian director Lucio Fulci was encouraged to make his own zombie film, and thus Zombi 2 came to be. Intended to be a sequel to Dawn, Zombi 2 - also known as Zombie Flesh Eaters, Island of the Living Dead and Zombie(USA) - brings zombies back to their voodoo black magic roots.

The Story

inline Image The film opens with a a darkened shot of a zombie wrapped in sheets getting shot in the head and a man saying the words, "the boat can leave now, tell the crew". Next we see a derelict ship heading straight into New York harbor. The ship, apparently abandoned, is out of control and unstoppable. The harbor patrol is sent in to board the boat and investigate. Upon entering the ship they find it in bad shape and without a crew. One of the patrolman checks the ship's hold and is suddenly attacked and killed by a large zombie. The zombie is later shot and falls overboard.

inline Image The daughter of the owner of the ship, Ann Bowles (Tisa Farrow), is contacted by police and questioned about her fathers disappearance. Concerned about the welfare of her father, Ann returns to the ship at night to search for clues. She meets Peter West (Ian McCulloch), a reporter who also has been investigating the appearance of the mysterious ship and the murder of the patrolman. On the ship West finds a letter written to Ann from her father, which tells of a mysterious disease he contracted on the island of Matull and that he believes he will never leave the island alive. Ann, concerned for her father, and Peter, interested in the story, decide to travel together to the island of Matull to search for answers.

inline Image Filmed in New York City, Haiti and Santa Domingo, much of the film is set in the tropics. Lucio Fulci creates a great feeling of isolation and entrapment on the island of Matull. Zombie is also full of Fulci's trademark "zoom in" close-ups, which he effectively uses to emphasize emotional expressions and gore. Speaking of gore, Zombie has plenty of it. A trademark of Fulci's horror films, the gore in the film is explicit and plentiful. Lucio Fulci leaves nothing to the imagination - if a zombie bites someone Fulci will show you the results. If not, chances are the version you are watching is cut.

inline Image That said the actual gore and zombie make-up and effects by Gianetto De Rossi are surprisingly realistic. Another trademark of Fulci's "zombie" films are the way his zombies look and move. The zombies in Zombie, The Beyond and City of the Living Dead are crusty, maggot infested, rotting corpses. They are also very slow and practically unconscious, with hardly or motor functions, except to instinctively move toward their victims as if driven by some force not their own. You'll notice Fulci's zombies keep their heads down, eyes closed and arms to the sides with little motion. In fact, when the last remaining survivors hold up in the hospital near the end of the movie you'll see the zombies try to break the doors down merely by throwing their bodies against it.

To me this is much more realistic and effective than the depiction of zombies in George Romero's "Living Dead" films. Zombie also has an excellent score by Fabio Frizzi and Giorgio Tucci. Zombie probably has one of the most memorable title songs I've ever heard in a horror film. The overall the pacing of the film is a bit slow with some boring aspects to the flow of the film. Fulci films are most effective when there's a great deal of tension on screen whether someone is being chased or there's a sense of impending doom. The dialogue scenes don't hold up as well. Zombie isn't that high on my list of Fulci favorites, but I find myself watching it now and then when I'm in the mood to watch a gory zombie film. Lucio Fulci films are an acquired taste and many people have mixed feelings about this film and many of the director's other works. However, if you love zombies, gore or are a Fulci fan you'll probably love Zombie.

Image Quality

inline Image Picture quality wise Roan Group's Zombie is somewhat lacking. Zombie is presented letterboxed at 2.35:1 in it's original aspect ratio. Overall the print used for the transfer was in good shape with a minimal amount of scratches and blemishes. The colors however, appear a bit washed out and have a greenish tinge to them and flesh tones appear pail. Zombie is the kind of film you'd expect to have bright sunny vibrant colors due to the fact it takes place in the tropics, at beaches and docks where the sun is obviously shining. But it all appears remarkably pale; this is very evident in the scenes where Peter and Ann set sail for Matool. The transfer is pretty clean looking and offers a nice level of detail, but overall isn't anything to get excited about. This is a pretty mediocre transfer, but probably the best you'll find until someone releases a better version...plus it's uncut.

Sound

The sound is where the Zombie LD really shines. It's a fantastic 5.1 remix of the soundtrack. Although limited by the original elements, it's very clear and powerful. I wish many other of Fulci's films would get a 5.1 remix.

Supplemental Material

There are some nice supplements on the LD. Chapter 28 features the films theatrical trailer. Chapter 29 features television spots and chapter 30 has radio spots. The LD also contains an audio commentary featuring Actor Ian McCulloch and Jason J. Slater of Diabolik Magazine on Analog track 1. The commentary is a bit dry and has many gaps. I found it a bit boring but there is an occasional snippet of information thrown out.

Final Thoughts

If you are a Lucio Fulci fan or a Zombie fan this is about the best way to see the film uncut. I hope one day Anchor Bay remasters the DVD and re-releases it with a nice new 16:9 HD transfer. Zombie can look a lot better.

Rating

Image Quality - C
Sound - A
Supplements - B

Technical Info.
  • Running Time - 1 hour 31 minutes
  • Color
  • Not Rated
  • 1 Disc, CLV
  • 30 Chapter Stops
  • Dolby Digital 5.1

Supplements
  • Audio Commentary
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Television spots
  • Radio spots

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