Zombie (1979)

A couple of years ago, Cinema Wasteland, in Strongsville, Ohio, celebrated the 30th Anniversary of perhaps the most visceral of all Zombie films —Lucio Fulci’s Zombie (aka Zombi 2).  I spoke briefly to actor Ian McCulloch and stunt man Ottaviano Dell’Acqua (who played the worm-eyed Zombie).  Both men seemed sincerely flattered by fan feedback and appeared to be having fun at the convention.

This is also seen in the supplemental disc of Blue Underground’s 2-disc Zombie Ultimate Edition on Blue-ray.  The 30th Anniversary reunion at wasteland is documented in a superb short-film “Zombie Wasteland” (I’ve watched it several times now trying to spot some friends —you’re off the hook and may show it to your spouses).  The disc rocks, especially the supplements on Zombie Makeup Zombi Italiano and a terrific interview of keeper of the faith Guillermo del Toro Zombie Lover.  GDT also introduces the film in a disc option.  The disc also offers an audio commentary with star Ian McCulloch and Diabolik Magazine editor Jason Slater. I listened to it and it’s quite interesting.  McCulloch claims this was the first time he sat through the entire film.

I can’t remember the first time I saw Zombie (perhaps on a beat-up VHS tape), but I can attest that it has never looked better than this Blue-ray edition.  I’m presenting a few screen captures from the 25th Anniversary disc (the HD Blue-ray is a vast improvement).

I consider Zombie one of the 5 best zombie films ever made.  Several distinctions raise it far above the mundane.  Fulci’s direction is balls-out in your face. We go to zombie flicks to see zombies and Fulci delivers the goods.  The opening sequence gives us not some scrawny emaciated corpse, but a gluttonous and obese entity. GDT notes that you just know this thing ate everything on the boat.  The film also offers four of the greatest sequences ever made in a horror film:

  • The underwater zombie attack on the tiger shark (coordinated by Mexican cinematographer and stunt-man Ramón Bravo),
  • The splinter-in-the-eye sequence (filmed from 3 camera angles),
  • The resurrection of the worm-eye zombie (a clay make-up masterpiece), and
  • The invasion of zombies crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.

Zombie works for several reasons. The soundtrack by Fabbio Frizzi is both memorable and creepy.  The film is suspenseful and keeps us off guard. It’s well cast and acted.  The zombies look better than any other on film (clay, morticians wax, worms, maggots and tissue paper go a long way). It jumps around and wraps up in a nice tight circle.  It begins and ends in NYC, with the twin towers over-looking the living dead marching to an invasion of the urban landscape.  But there’s something extra-eerie now about watching this pre-9-11 sequence.   The ending takes on a whole new meaning with NYC silently waiting for an unseen horror.  Subliminally my mind sees the towers fading from the composition.



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