This is it, the daddy of cult zombie films. Fulci pulls out all the stops in what is probably my favourite zombie film ever!
Fulci originally made this film to act as a sort of pseudo-sequel to Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’ hence the films original title ‘Zombi 2’, but in many respects its definitely a film in its own right, shame the other films in the franchise don’t hold up.
The plot is straightforward enough, when a boat drifts into New York harbour the crew are missing. On further inspection only one ‘person’ remains on board, a Zombie. When a reporter looks into the story of the boat he traces its origin to a remote island in the Caribbean; he and a woman whose father is a doctor on the island venture out. What awaits them is the obvious, an island over run with zombies. On the island the 2, the boat crew, a doctor and a nurse must do what they can to survive.
As you may guess it’s not the story which makes this film the masterpiece that it is, but it definitely holds up. What does make this film so exceptional is Fulci’s attention to detail and there are several scenes throughout the film which make me think ‘wow’ every time I watch. The zombie’s look absolutely awesome, the makeup is done really well and the worms in the eyes and mouth are a lovely touch. There are several set pieces too which deserve a mention; the now famous shark vs. zombie scene and the sequence in the Spanish graveyard where the zombies emerging from the ground is complemented by some cool camera work where we see mud falling off the camera lens portraying a zombie-eye view of their emergence and, oh yeah, there is that little eye piercing scene everyone goes on about. This leads me nicely on to the most impressive part of the film… the gore.
Now where Romero held back to some extent, Fulci doesn’t. Whilst ZFE isn’t Fulci’s most brutal film there is defiantly enough blood and gore in this film to make it one of the most memorable. The gore scenes are too many to number but rest assured there are many flesh rippings and head shots all of which are extremely well done and with shit loads of realistic looking blood. The eye impaling scene looks fantastic too. Probably my favourite scene in the whole film is the final showdown where at a last resort the survivors take a stand in the islands church and use molotov’s and shotguns as defence. The effects are fantastic as the zombies shamble forwards aflame and deteriorating arms and legs dropping off as they go. Fantastic.
Overall, as cliché as the statement is, you really can’t call yourself true cult fan unless you have seen this fantastic movie. If it hadn’t been banned/cut (the usual) I believe it would have received the more widespread credit it deserved. It sets a definite benchmark for other cult films to follow and so far I am yet to see one which has surpassed it. Recommended.