Zombie (aka Zombie Island, Zombi 2) movie Review


Spoilers:Okay, this 1979 movie by Italian director Lucio Fulci is variously known as ‘Zombie” or “Zombie 2” or “Zombie Island” or other names… and I don’t know if the different titles are different edits or what … but it is a mid-budget late 70s zombie flick that is very entertaining (despite some bad dubbing and sound problems, at least in the version that I saw).

It has plenty of gore, blood that looks like red poster paint, actresses who go topless, an underwater fight between a zombie and a shark (sheer genius! Bravo, Lucio!) and lots of worms and maggots crawling out of zombie eye sockets.

The movie starts with an unmanned yacht drifting into NYC harbor. The Trade Center Towers figure prominently into these shots… and I’ve noticed that older pictures of NYC with the WTC still standing always give me pause. Two of NYC’s finest board the vessel where one of them is killed by a fat disgusting rotting guy that was hiding below decks (this is a zombie, but I guess the cops don’t know it). The other cop unloads his revolver into the zombie (striking it in the chest) and it falls overboard.

The police interview a blond woman with big eyes named Anne (Tia Farrow) because the yacht belongs to her father. She says she hadn’t heard from dad since he took off for the islands on his yacht with friends. She hooks up with a newspaper reporter named Peter (played by a balding Ian McCulloch) and they find a note aboard the yacht from her father in which he says that he is on the island of Matool after having contracted a strange disease. Peter and Anne board an airplane to fly down to the islands.

Meanwhile, in the coroner’s office, an officious doctor berates his long suffering assistant over the state of the instruments and the corpse of the police officer killed aboard the yacht lies on the table. The corpse begins to twitch menacingly.

Anne and Peter arrive in the islands and convince another couple (Hairy Brian and Sexy Susan) who have a boat to help them find the island of Matool.

Meanwhile, on Matool, things are going from bad to worse. The island is afflicted by a plague of zombification — natives keep showing up at the hospital, dying, and then turning into zombies at which point the doctor shoots them in the head with his revolver. If all that were not bad enough, the doctor’s wife is a lush and a mean drunk. The doctor leaves for his work at the hospital and his wife throws a wine glass at him as he goes, calling him a “BASTARD!”

In the best tradition of the zombie flick, the bitchy woman has a gory demise. Zombies break into the house and she hides in the bedroom, piling furniture in front of the door. One of the zombies smashes an arm through the wood of the door and drags her by the hair till her eyeball gets impaled on a sharp splinter of wood filmed in ‘ouch-o-vision.’

Our four friends in the boat finally make it to Matool. On the way, Sexy Susan goes scuba-diving and is menaced by a shark. In trying to hide from the shark, she discovers a zombie wandering around on the sea floor. Luckily for her, the zombie and the shark begin to fight each other and Susan is able to scramble aboard the boat. The shark slams intot he boat in frustration and damages the propellor. Uh oh. They fire off some flares and the island of Matool sends someone out to tow them in.

The doctor delivers his condolences to Anne on the death of her father and asks them to go to his house and check on his wife. The gang borrows the doctor’s land rover and drives up to the house where they discover zombies eating the missus. In their frenzy to get back to the hospital, they run off the road and destroy the jeep so they have to hoof it back to the hospital through zombie infested woods. At this point they discover that you can only ‘kill’ a zombie by destroying it’s head and Sexy Susan ends up becoming zombie meat. There are some nice scenes of zombies rising from the ground in an old graveyard.

Brian, Peter and Anne finally make it to the hospital (an old chuch) with lots of zombies shuffling after them. The few remaining humans make their stand here, chucking Molotov cocktails and shooting zombies in the head.

There is more… and Peter and Anne do eventually escape the island on Brian’s crippled boat with a zombified Brian locked up below, but a radio message from the mainland says that zombies have invaded NYC. Remember that zombified cop in the morgue? The final scene shows zombies swarming across the pedestrian walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge. Amusingly, despite the fact of a zombie outbreak, the Manhattan/Brooklyn traffic continues unabated.

The zombie fighting the shark and the doctor’s wife’s eyeball getting impaled on the splinter of wood are highlights of the film. Many of the zombies, however, have an unconvincing ‘paper-mache’ look to them, although the wriggling worms and maggots added to their costumes help the ick factor. Unintentionally humorous moments include one of the characters suddenly bending over and picking up a conquistador’s helmet that is just lying on the ground and saying the equivalent of, “Gee, whiz, would you take a look at this ancient Spanish helmet?” The shockingly well preserved corpses of conquistadors (400+ years in the ground and they are still wearing shirts, pants and shoes) then rise up and eat his girlfriend.


2 Comments on “Zombie (aka Zombie Island, Zombi 2) movie Review”

  1. My friends, this is THE zombie movie. In terms of sheer sickness it has little within the zombie genre that outdoes it. I love this film, one of my all-time favorites. But, I will add that I am biased since I am a huge Fulci fan.

  2. Scott says:

    I love Fulci, and recently discovered that City of the Living Dead is available on Netflix streaming.


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