Directed by Lucio Fulci
Written by Elisa Briganti
Starring: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, and Richard Johnson
Strangers looking for a woman’s father arrive at a tropical island where a doctor desperately searches for the cause and cure of a recent epidemic of the undead.
I’ve been obsessed with old school horror films lately. Sometimes it really is hard to beat the retro feel in genre films like Fulchi’s Zombie. Make all the Dario Argento vs. Fulchi arguments you’d like; this 1978 entry stands on its own. The film begins in New York when an abandoned boat drifts into the waters of the Hudson. The eventual police examination of the boat leads us to the sun-soaked Island of Matul. The owner of the boat is missing, capturing the attention of both the owner’s daughter and an investigative reporter. They meet a vacationing couple on their way towards Antilles, gaining passage on the couple’s boat. The trip alone features topless scuba diving and a zombie vs. shark experience yet to be repeated in modern cinema.
Zombie is filled with brutal hands-on special effects. The undead chomp down on necks, causing torrents of bright red blood to gush in all directions. I love a movie that gets blood right. It sounds simple, but think about how many pink, watery bloodbaths you’ve seen from horror films. Nudity isn’t far behind, including a long topless scuba scene and the never-duplicated zombie versus shark battle. Voodoo adds a cool spin on the undead mythology, making the viewer nervous every time a native steps in frame. One of my biggest horror fears involves isolation someplace outside of America, defenseless to local powers and far, far away from home.
Zombie is a must-see for horror fans. If you like zombie films in general, think about how uncrowded the genre was in 1978 and how Fulchi is still impacting contemporary horror. Pretty cool for a 36-year-old film.