Directed By: Lucio Fulci
Starring: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson
Tag line: "When the earth spits out the dead, they will rise to suck the blood of the living!"
Trivia: Scriptwriter Dardano Sacchetti chose to take his name off the credits due to his father's death during preproduction. As a result of his loss, Sacchetti felt uncomfortable about being connected with a movie about the dead returning to a semblance of life and then being destroyed
Repugnant, vile, disturbing – all of these words adequately describe Lucio Fulci’s 1979 cult classic, Zombie, a film with individual scenes so graphic they can turn even the heartiest of stomachs. Yet Zombie is more than a simple smorgasbord of mutilations and senseless violence; it also weaves a fascinating tale, told by a director at the top of his game.
One afternoon, a seemingly abandoned boat, belonging to a famous scientist, drifts into New York harbor with only a large, carnivorous monster on board. The scientist’s daughter, Anne (Tisa Farrow), is worried about her father and the ship’s crew, who, three months earlier, laid in a course for the remote island of Matosi. With the help of a reporter (Ian McCulloch), a guide (Brian Hull) and the guide’s girlfriend (Auretta Gay), Anne sets out on a search and rescue mission. But when the four arrive at Matosi, they find an island overrun by the living dead. To escape the danger, they seek refuge in a small hospital run by Dr. David Menard (Richard Johnson), a local resident who's spent the last few months working on a cure for the ‘disease’ that brings the dead back to life. Surrounded on all sides, the group must find a way off the island before its deceased population closes in on them.
While a constant flow of brutality can grow tiresome after a while, the violence in Zombie remains effective to the end, mostly because it's supported by a well-paced story. The opening sequence, where the boat floats into New York Harbor, plays out quietly at first, with images from aboard the ramshackled ship interspersed with those of the New York Harbor Patrol, who've arrived on the scene to investigate. So, when this peaceful inspection is interrupted by the appearance of a huge zombie, we're as horrified by it as the patrolmen are. What follows: the severed hand, the shooting blood, the decayed skin pulled from the creature’s carcass, successfully drags us to the edge of our seat. In short, Zombie takes the time to build the horror, and in so doing generates more terror than mindless gore ever could.
One doesn't go into a film like Zombie without expecting plenty of blood. Still, this is a shocking movie. The loose flesh, the attacks of the walking dead (including the now-infamous "eye" scene), even the creatures themselves threw me for a curve (these are easily the most disgusting zombies I’ve ever seen). Yet thanks to director Fulci's patient, deliberate pacing, Zombie gives its audience a whole lot more than just a queasy stomach.