Blue Underground // 1979 // 92 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 12th, 2004
When the earth spits out the dead, they will rise to suck the blood of the living!
Four words kiddies: horrible, horrible eye wound. For those yearning the reanimation of Lucio Fulci's 1979 exercise in undead zaniness, your implorations have been answered. Zombie (a.k.a. Zombi 2) offers gore-fans a solid helping of spurting arteries, maggot-infested body cavities, and the aforementioned eye-wound that will make you shudder.
A seemingly unmanned boat drifts into New York harbor. The authorities intercept the craft and search for any sign of life -- to no avail. They do however stumble across some undead, which is close to life, but not quite.
Now we meet Anne Bowles (Tisa Farrow) whose father, a scientist, was the owner of the boat o'gore. Aided by intrepid reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch), Anne decides to go off searching for the key to her father's fate. The two embark on a trip to a mysterious tropical island, soon hooking up with Brian (a dude with a magnificent coif) and Susan (a topless scuba diver).
Some cash is exchanged, and the quartet is off. After a brief stopover for some topless diving, Susan is set upon by a vicious shark, which is then set upon by a vicious underwater zombie(!!).
We also meet Dr. Menard (Richard Johnson) who finds the village he is serving besieged by illness and dead people walking around. His lady-friend -- unfortunately for her and fortunately for us sickos -- meets first hand the danger of living on a remote tropical island infested with zombies.
Anne and company locate the island, meet Dr. Menard, and everything soon goes to H-E-double-hockey-sticks. Out of the ground pops zombie after zombie, and the chase is on. A slow, stumbling, moaning and groaning chase sure, but trust me, it's on. The non-zombies are soon hip-deep in their own little survival-horror scenario, and guns and Molotov cocktails play an important part.
Let me tell you a little about my feelings about eye-wounds. I hate them. Can't handle them. Normally, a man of more-than-solid constitution, I do have my weaknesses. And that is on-screen depiction of violent eye-trauma. I don't know what the origin is to this particular distaste. Perhaps I stumbled upon one too many retina operations on the surgery channel. Maybe when I was a child I poked myself in the eye-socket with a stick. Regardless, I can't wear contact lenses and I'm irked by cinematic eyeball damage.
Which brings me to Zombie, a fantastic piece of gore schtick that many have been waiting to crawl from the topsoil and stumble around on DVD.
This movie contains one of the baddest mo-fo's of eye wounds ever. OK, check it.
So this girl steps out of the shower, and spots someone trying to break into her house. She runs to barricade the door, but it's a zombie! And zombies are strong! Eventually the undead marauder splinters the door and grabs the screaming woman's hair. She writhes and shrieks, but the zombie pulls her head closer and closer -- right toward a jagged chunk of wood. Closer...closer...(cut to obviously fake head)...and then SCLUURCCCHHHH! A graphic penetration of the eyeball with wood. And then the zombie wrenches the woman's head, fluid oozes from the ruined socket, and the wood snaps, and the woman wails with a big chunk of lumber lodged in her head.
There is plenty of envelope-pushing gore fun to be had here, but I'm reluctant to label this a cinematic thrill ride. Most of the zombie action doesn't take place until the final third, and really, not until the last fifteen minutes or so. Those are some sweet fifteen minutes, mind you, but be prepared for a meandering front end.
However, the slick gore effects and the over-the-top denouement make the movie extremely worthwhile. And there's more! You also get:
A zombie vs. shark fight!
Worms aplenty crawling in body orifices!
Graphic representation of a corpse-turned-buffet!
Overweight zombie getting shot in the face!
Skin ripped off a cheek and devoured!
Fire! Fire! Fire!
Nipples followed by grisly death!
Exploding zombie heads!
Blatant continuation errors!
A group of fit, intelligent human beings unable to elude zombies that move at a max speed of .05 miles per hour!
Blue Underground has done an admirable job bringing this gem to DVD. The widescreen transfer is fairly sharp, pushing the bright colors (ahem, red) far. The shark vs. zombie fight, which I enjoy saying a lot, is especially crisp. Aurally, the 5.1 mix (English and Italian), isn't as aggressive as I would have liked -- the surrounds have little to do, especially (and surprisingly) during the big throw-down at the end -- but definite points for trying!
Unfortunately, the disc really falters in the bonus materials department. Just lightweight stuff, e.g. trailers, TV and radio spots, director's bio, and some still galleries. Seems to me that this movie would be ripe for much more. Bummer.
The movie lumbers around a bit at the beginning but finds its legs toward the end. A soulless batch of extras rots though.
Permission to gnaw and bleed. Court adjourned.
Review content copyright © 2004 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Blue Underground
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Italian)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 1979
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* TV and radio spots
* Posters and still galleries
* Lucio Fulci bio