Thursday, June 1, 2006

Zombi 2 (1979)

The notoriously gory Zombi 2 was directed by Lucio Fulci, but is very different from his film Don't Torture a Duckling. Despite the many differences in tone, I enjoy both films. This one is a just bit more gory, fun and fatalistic than I expected! The plot centers on journalist Peter Wells and Anne Bowles as they try to track down Anne's missing father, whose boat drifted into the New York harbor with only a flesh eating ghoul aboard. Anne and Peter travel to the Caribbean, where they acquire passage via boat from two fellow Americans, Brian and Susan, to a remote island. When they get close to what the locals call the cursed island, Susan decides to go for a naked scuba diving session. She is almost attacked by a shark, and is then attacked by a zombie underwater!! She manages to escape while the shark and the zombie duke it out (yes, shark vs. zombie - for reals, yo!).

When the four Americans arrive at the island, they meet Dr. Menard, who tells them that Anne's father died of a disease which is overrunning the island. The dead are coming back to life! The Doctor blames it on voodoo, even though he doesn't really believe in the stuff.

The Americans are sent to Dr. Menard's house, where they are to meet his wife, while he goes back to work in the makeshift hospital. When the four arrive at the grand house, they find the wife's body being eaten alive by zombies! A few scenes ago, the zombies invaded the Missus' house and slowly drive her eyeball through a splintery spike of wood (oh, the ocular horror!). The zombie feast the four find is the bloody aftermath of a verrrrry excruciating death.

The four skedaddle outta there pretty darn fast, hopping in the Doctor's Jeep and peeling out of the driveway. Unfortunately, they hit a zombie on the road and end up crashing their getaway vehicle. Peter breaks his ankle, so the group moseys on through the jungle at a slow pace, but they still manage to keep ahead of the zombies. They stop to rest, only to realize they are lounging around an old Spanish conquistador graveyard. Soon, zombies are popping up, not so fresh, from their graves. Susan gets a chunk bitten out of her, while Anne and Peter are attacked. Anne, Peter and Brian escape and head to the Doctor's hospital, which is housed inside of an old church. The doctor, his nurse and his assistant are still alive, but not for long! Soon the zombies attack and all heck breaks loose. Molotov cocktails go flying, the dead from the hospital start attacking the survivors, and it ends with Anne, Peter and Brian escaping to their boat. Brian has been bitten, though, and has to be put down. Susan and Peter try to raise someone on the radio, but all they hear are reports of zombie attacks. In the end, we see the zombies descending on New York City and it seems there is no hope for humankind.

This film was not what I was expecting at all, which isn't a bad thing. I envisioned a massacre, with zombies running all over New York City as the main plot. Fortunately, the story had more substance than that (not much, but substance nonetheless). The gore was all good, and I even had to cover my eyes for the scene with the shish-kabobed eyeball. Since the cast was half Italian and half English, of course there was dubbing, which annoyed me a bit, but it wasn't so bad that it took away from the action. My main complaint was that it took so long to get to the actual zombies. Half the film was getting to the island, and it even took a while for the action to get started once the four Americans got there. The ending was wonderful, though. When Anne and Peter thought the worst was over, it was only just beginning!

Since Romero's Dawn of the Dead was called Zombie/Zombi in Italy and it played so well, Fulci decided to call this film Zombie 2 (though it is also known as Zombie, as in the version I saw). It is supposed to be a sequel of sorts to Dawn of the Dead, though the two films are completely different. The last shot where the zombies have overrun New York City is supposed to link to Dawn of the Dead.

I enjoyed this movie, though it takes a while to build. The stunning shark vs. zombie scene as well as the eyeball scene are well worth the rental alone.

Order it on Amazon!

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