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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 176: Zombie (Zombi 2)

Zombie (Zombi 2)
His smile can light up a room

Thanks to television and the internet, more people have seen iconic scenes from movies than the actual films themselves. While shows like Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments and clips on Youtube are great for introducing unknown movies to the masses, plenty make the mistake of just watching the clips and never seeking out the full experience. It's worth taking the time to see these movies to truly understand and appreciate why these scenes mean so much. It's also worth seeing these movies if they have zombies in them.

Zombie is a 1979 zombie horror movie, directed by Lucio Fulci (City Of The Living Dead, Don't Torture A Duckling) and starring Tisa Farrow (L'Ultimo Cacciatore, Fingers) as Anne Bowles. An abandoned yacht is discovered floating aimlessly in New York Harbor and is boarded by the Coast Guard. A hulking zombie appears on the boat and bites one of the officers in the throat. The remaining officer kills the zombie and the dead officer is taken for an autopsy. Anne Bowles, who's fathered owned the yacht, is questioned by the police, but can only tell them that he was doing research on a tropical island. News reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch, Survivors, Doctor Who) investigates the mysterious boat and comes across Anne doing some investigating on her own. They discover that Anne's father was working on the island of Matool and had been suffering from a strange and unknown disease. They get to the main islands and are able to hitch a ride with a couple, Brian and Susan. During their trip, Susan goes scuba diving and comes across a shark. As she is hiding from the shark, she is attacked by a zombie. She breaks free while the shark and zombie battle it out underwater. On the island, they meet Dr. David Menard (Richard Johnson, Aces High, The Haunting) who works as a physician on the island. Menard asks them to check on his wife at their house and they discover her being devoured by zombies. They make a run for it and are attacked by zombies rising from the grave. Will they be able to get off the island and warn the world that the dead are coming back to life?

Sometimes a shark just needs a hug

This movie has a complicated history, but I'll give the cliff notes. For those that don't know, Zombie was also released under the name Zombi 2 after George Romero's Dawn Of The Dead was recut and the name changed to just Zombi. Zombi 2 isn't a sequel to that movie, was most likely used as a way to get more people to see it. Zombie is also known as Zombie Flesh-Eaters, Island Of The Living Dead, and Woodoo. The iconic scene I was referencing was the “Zombie vs. Shark” part of the movie. Just about every horror fan loves that scene. It is pretty amazing that they were able to pull it off convincingly. I've read that they used a well-fed and heavily sedated shark, which makes sense, but I didn't see any air bubbles during the scene. That leads me to conclude it was a real zombie. It's a very cool scene, though it didn't really add much to the story itself.

Speaking of the story, Zombie is your basic island-based voodoo horror movie. Thankfully it focuses more on zombies than voodoo which tends to bring down the entertainment and fear in movies such as The Serpent And The Rainbow and Ritual. The first hour of the movie is a little slower than expected and even boring at times. All roads lead to the characters getting on the island, but it takes a while to get there. Stick with the movie, because the last 30 minutes or so is well worth it. Fulci revels in the extreme gore that got the movie banned in some countries and recut in others. When I say gore, I mean GORE, enough to make me to raise my eyebrows in surprise at some of the things they were able to pull off. Some scenes are gruesome, but still entertaining. The zombies all look great and, thankfully, are the slow, shambling style of zombie. 

Zombies: Now in Sepia tone

There are many versions of the film floating out there, but the one I watched had a weird mixture of English speakers and bad dubbing. It confused me at times to see English speakers in a scene where their costars appeared to be dubbed. That threw me off a bit, and made it a little hard to critique the acting. That being said, the actors still put on good performances and captured feelings of fear and terror. There is a good amount of action, mainly towards the end of the film. The movie has a final stand against the zombies that many of us have probably fantasized about.

Overall, Zombie is an entertaining movie, despite a slow beginning and a story that was not particularly interesting or original. Fulci does a good job capturing all the violence and does not shy away from the extreme. It's a bloody good time with great makeup and effects. The amount of blood and gore may shock some, but if you like your horror red and sticky, you'll really enjoy Zombie. The zombie vs shark scene alone is worth your time. It's been referenced in song (Send More Paramedics - Zombie Vs. Shark) and even on t-shirts. It is no wonder that the movie has become classic, and that scene is one of the main reasons why.


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