Film Flashback: Zombie

Zombie (1979), dir. Lucio Fulci, Variety Film Production

A backlit man shoots a bound figure in the head. A derelict boat sails into New York City. The harbor patrol, upon reaching it, makes a grisly discovery. The ship is abandoned and rotting with spoiled food and severed limbs. One officer makes a horrific discovery in the form of a large undead man who promptly kills the officer. After the other policeman shoots the shambling creature over the side, a formal investigation gets underway.

The daughter of the boat’s owner, Anne (Tisa Farrow) is called in. Along with a reporter (Ian McCulloch), Anne goes to the tropical island of Matool to try and discover her father’s fate. With a vacationing couple in tow, the group goes to find the island. Susan, the girlfriend of Brian (ship’s captain) decides to take some underwater shots, but while scuba diving, encounters a zombie. Saved by a shark, the group is decidedly unnerved when they arrive at the island. Meeting Dr. Menard (Richard Johnson), they are told of the dead coming back to life. Things get worse from there.

Better known as Zombi 2, Zombi or even Zombie Flesh Eaters, this 1979 film was made most infamous for being put on the ‘Video Nasty’ list, and for good reason. The most gruesome shot involves the doctor’s wife as her eye is slowly pierced by a wood shard. There doesn’t seem to be any real reason for the dead coming back to life, although voodoo is mentioned a few times.

Compare to Fulci’s later work, this film is almost a marvel in self-restraint. At first a rip off of Dawn of the Dead, Fulci only explains so much and leaves the rest to the viewer. For this kind of story, it works. We know as much as the characters, who more or less behave realistically even when they fail spot check after spot check.

“We are going to eat you!”