Review Date: August 17, 2003
Released by: Shriek Show
Release date: 9/24/2002
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
Late in the 1980's the horror genre had seen better days. Though there were a few movies that gave us some original ideas, many of the movies we went out to see were either sequels or remakes. The Blob, Halloween 4, Friday the 13th VII, Nightmare on Elm Street 4, Phantasm 2, Return of The Living Dead 2
, etc, etc, etc. Euro horror didn't provide any relief for those trying to cure "sequelitis." With the addition of Zombi 3
, we are given a film that is an extremely loose continuation of Lucio Fulci's classic Zombi 2
(better known as Zombie
in the U.S.A.). Shriek Show continues to cater to horror fans by releasing Zombi 3
uncut, but will fans be satisfied with the result? Let's check it out...
After seeing the results of their new toxin, a group of scientists is horrified to learn that a man has stolen some of the samples. As he attempts to flee the toxin is shot, contaminating his hand. He manages to elude the captors and find refuge in a hotel. Very rapidly he is overtaken by the virus, but not before infecting some of the hotel staff. The military arrives to discover what is left of the thief's grotesque body. His diseased body is burned, sending the virus airborne for all to become victims. A flock of birds are the first to contract the virus. They set their sights on various people throughout the Philippine town, attacking and infecting those who they come in contact with. Ken (Deran Serafian), Roger (Ottaviano Dell' Acqua), and Bo (Massimo Vanni), a group of three GI's get a firsthand look at the terror to come. While they are on the road lusting after a group led by Patricia (Beatrice Ring), the infected birds attack. The libido led men offer to help the group find medical aid and shelter. As they look for answers, the group realizes that the 'zombie' birds may have been the least of their worries.
All the while, the battle between science and military is ever present. Dr. Holder (Robert Marious) wants to find a cure to minimize victims and attempt to get a chokehold on the issue. The military, led by their all-knowing Commander (Mike Monty), wants to kill everything in sight. His solution is to contain the virus by eliminating those who have it. While these two groups debate the rights and wrongs of dealing with the virus, the citizens of the town are getting a firsthand look at the terror that has been unleashed.
Those searching for a Lucio Fulci movie should just keep on looking. Though he is credited as the director, Bruno Mattei spent most of the time calling the shots. A similar situation occurred with Poltergeist
. Many people still think that it is a Steven Spielberg film even though Tobe Hooper was the director. The problem here is that Mattei isn't Tobe Hooper, and Fulci ended up having his name attached to a sub par flick. Everything that attracts viewers to Lucio Fulci is gone. The timing is off, the gore isn't really that great, and the undead have more life than a hyperactive speed addict in Starbucks. One thing that originally attracted me to Fulci and Euro horror in general, was the loss of boundaries. In an age where American horror movies shy away from blood to obtain the more profitable and user-friendly PG-13 rating, Euro horror had obtained a following with its "Want gore? Here's more!" approach. Zombi 3
doesn't follow this trend though. It is Euro horror with training wheels. There are more visuals than most movies today would contain, but nothing like we are used to seeing from a Fulci movie. This hinders the movie, putting it on par with a bad American film containing a worse dub. Take out the handful of violence and Zombi 3
is a prime candidate for Mystery Science Theater 3000.
One glaring problem is that Mattei can't seem to pin down how he wants the zombies to act. One minute they are dropping down from rooftops like ninjas, the next they will hide and attack potential victims with a machete or strangle them like a stalker. This only happens if they aren't too busy taunting the living with lines like "I'm feeling fine Patricia. I'm just a little thirsty...FOR YOUR BLOOD!" (A personal favorite of mine). Now I know what you are thinking. You think that I am stereotyping zombies by thinking they should all be slow and stupid with a good amount of decaying flesh. You believe that I should open my shallow mind and recognize that each individual zombie was once a living person with unique thoughts and abilities. I should be commending them for overcoming an obstacle like death and "living" up to their personal potential. Zombies are people too, and I shouldn't look down on the ugly psychos for wanting to transform arms, legs, and a brain into a five course meal. I should think that way, but I don't. There are some things that we are just going to have to live with. First, Anna Nicole Smith is out of her element, even though millions of viewers keep tuning in to her pathetic show. Second, the internet offers more than just porn (as this site proves). Lastly, zombies are slow, ugly, and moronic. Until people realize this, we will continue to be plagued by zombies giving their best Sho Kosugi and Freddy Krueger impersonations.
The acting, which may annoy some people, was actually a plus for me. The bad dubs, cheesy one-liners, and downright dreadful over-acting will provide plenty of unintentional comedy. You have three GI's, looking for some "hot chicks with tits." Their mentality reminds me of the early 80's movies like Porky's or Losin' It. They come across exhibitionist, nymphomaniac women who are all talk and no show. These women have IQ's equivalent of the two that Jason runs into at the virtual Camp Crystal Lake in Jason X
, they're just not as clueless. The verbal warfare between the military and scientist is just classic. I could watch these guys go at it for hours and be amused. This is where the difference lies though. For those who take film seriously you aren't going to like this movie. It isn't scary or really that good. It borrows from many horror movies and doesn't apologize for being what it is - fun. This type of movie does not appeal to all, but it can be entertainment for a group of friends looking for something to do on a Friday evening.
I rarely look at any extras or read any liner notes before watching a movie. Whether I have seen it or not, I like the experience on DVD to be fresh and new. Image my shock when the film opens with a grainy picture that looks like it could have been a bootleg. I know Shriek Show well enough to know that this just isn't right. Upon completing the movie, I looked at the liner notes and there was my explanation. In order to give fans an uncut version of the film, Shriek Show had to go to the Japanese release of the film. Since this is the only way to get the footage they needed, some patch work was done on material that has never been taken from a film element. While the scene certainly stands out from the rest, the difference is not as dramatic as the extra footage found in Anchor Bay's extended scenes from The Wicker Man. Some might complain about the quality of this opening scene, regardless of how short it actually is. I congratulate Shriek Show for thinking of the fans when making this decision. A lot of companies would have just left the footage off instead of cleaning it up and making the effort.
Well, after the opening scene things cleaned up quite a bit. The picture is presented in an anamorphic 1:85.1 aspect ratio. The film does show some age, but overall the print is very good. Colors are a shade dull with some minor blemishes here and there. Some of the early gore scenes are not as crisp as the other scenes in the film, but other than that we have a great transfer.
The sound is in Dolby Digital Mono and that is adequate. There is really no need for a 5.1 upgrade as the soundtrack is not overly aggressive. There are a couple of spots where the volume seems to drop off quite a bit. Just when some zombies are about to get torched by a flamethrower, the sound drops of noticeably. Though is makes a recovery, it is certainly a distraction. There just seems to be some inconsistencies in volume that are more than likely a direct result of the filmmaking. Two directors, with different styles and visions, could easily have added to the sub par soundtrack.
The bulk of the supplements are in four separate interviews. The first is with Zombi 3's
writer, Claudio Fagasso (19:01). Since he was an integral part of the process from beginning to end, his interview is very informative. He talks about inspirations for the film and obstacles that got in the way. He discussed which director filmed particular scenes and how the script was revised to add more action to a film that was considered dull. Following Fagasso is the film's co-director, Bruno Mattei (10:14). He was asked similar questions including if he felt Zombi 3
was a Lucio Fulci film or a Bruno Mattei film. Considering he did quite a bit of work on the film, Mattei's answer is very kind. He also discusses how he came aboard as the director. The third interview is with two of the actors in the film. Both Ottaviano Dell'Acqua (misspelled on the DVD) and Massimo Vanni (7:04) were obviously excited to work with Fulci. They shared stories regarding the Philippines and a rather humorous adventure they had with Fulci in one of the abandoned villages from the set of Apocalypse Now. The last interview is with the pleasant Mariana Loi (6:31). She talks about how sarcastic Fulci was and how she thought the film stood the test of time. She also noted that she was originally cast as the lead in Zombi 3
Aside from the liner notes mentioned earlier, there is also a still gallery (1:06). It has 12 stills and is presented without the need of a STEP button. An image simply displayed for a few seconds, and then the next still comes along. The rather lengthy trailer for Zombi 3 is present as well. Clocking in at 2:51, the trailer is quite revealing. It shows scenes from the entire movie, including the end. I would recommend passing on the trailer until you have seen the film. There are two trailers for Shriek Show DVD's that are already out, Joe D'Amato's Beyond the Darkness
and Lucio Fulci's House of Clocks
. There is also a trailer for Shriek Show's yet to be released Spasmo from Umberto Lenzi.
The 'C' rating is a bit misleading for this movie. The rating could really go either way. Depending on your mood, state of mind, and who you are with, Zombi 3
could easily be a solid 'B+' or an 'F-'. I commend to Shriek Show for making the extra effort to present us with an uncut film. Fans that are looking to complete the works of Lucio Fulci should enjoy this addition to the collection. Anyone who has a passing interest may want to rent Zombi 3
before making a purchase.
Movie - C
Image Quality - B
Sound - C+
Supplements - B-
- Running time - 1 hour 36 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English Dolby Digital Mono
- Exclusive Interviews
- Liner Notes