Wednesday, March 2, 2011

#208. Zombie (1979)

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.


Anonymous said...

Brutal zombie movie DoctorShock. I loved the the episode with all the zombie movies. A question though, are you repurposing your horror movies. This was already covered on the podcast and you made a statement on the latest episode of at least 3 new horror reviews on your website each week. Now I am not being picky but I assumed these would be fresh reviews. Why check each day looking for new horror movies when they have been discussed in great detail on the podcast where you can cover many more facts discussions and ratings over a written post. I just thought visiting your website would be more horror movie reviews not the same ones. I love the podcast and all the hosts your friend "thefalcon"

Dave Becker said...

@TheFalcon: Thanks for stopping by, and for the comment.

There are actually a few reasons why I will occasionally list movies already discussed on Planet Macabre. For one, this blog allows me to expand on my thoughts on the film, getting into a little more detail than I may have on the show. I also post my "Chills of Yesteryear" pick on the blog for this very reason. Yes, the podcast allows for discussion of the films, and we do get in-depth into them, but remember, there are five hosts on the show! Sometimes, you have to yield a little just to allow others time to express their own opinions.

However, the primary reason is that ZOMBIE is actually new for most of my readers. while a good number of my visitors are listeners of Planet Macabre, they do not make up the majority. So, for many, they've never heard my take on ZOMBIE, or MIRRORS, or any of the other films discussed on the show. Most won't even know what we're talking about here (for those, I recommend checking out the Planet Macabre Podcast at

While I will most certainly be increasing the frequency of my horror posts (which, by the way, is not something that all of my readers will enjoy, but so be it), there will be times when I revisit ones already discussed on the show, for the reasons discussed above. That said, there will still be plenty of 'new' content for horror fans to enjoy in the coming weeks and months.

Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your comment, and I thank you for the chance to explain my posts. Thanks, also, for listening to Planet Macabre. I know I speak for all the hosts when I say that we appreciate the wonderful response the show has gotten from the fans.

Anonymous said...

Not to be rude DoctorShock but it is a little hard to believe it is only a fraction. I browsed through most of the movies (several already covered on the podcast) here and while you do have a few readers commenting, seems like the same people, all the posts with alot of comments mention the podcast. I like reading comments myself to see what people think of a movie. Now you made a promise on e7 about 3 new horror movies a week, are you seriously saying that you thought the podcast listerners think they will be the same movies? That seems shady to me. I am here for more horror movie reviews, I would actually like to see the podcast once a week but for down time I am looking for horror movies. Basically I am a little peaved. You even went as far as saying that the link has changed directly to horror reviews or soemthing like that. I think I will just stick to the podcast as it seems like your trying to coerse listeners to this website. "thefalcon"

Dave Becker said...

@TheFlacon: Sorry you feel that way.

As for comments, yes the listeners of Planet Macabre have been leaving me a bunch of comments, and I do appreciate it very much. The main reason for this is I asked for comments on the show. The vast majority of people who stop by do not leave comments. I have dozens and dozens of people who contact me on twitter about my posts, and they have never once left a comment on this site. That's just a reality about sites in general...most people don't like to leave comments.

As for repeating films from the show, I've done so twice recently (this film and MIRRORS). I don't count my Chiller pick because those post the day the show comes out, as a courtesy (again, if you notice, the vast majority of comments have been left on my chiller picks). I have well over 60 horror films here, most of which were posted outside of the Planet Macabre list of films. I can also tell you that i have 10 horror films lined up over the next 2 1/2 weeks that have not been covered in detail on the show.

Still, if my posting Zombie has somehow made you feel cheated, then there's really nothing more to say. I'm sorry to see you go, but I won't apologize for it, nor will I say it won't happen again, for the reasons I listed in my previous post. Believe them or not, it's the truth.

I'm glad you enjoy the show.

Klaus said...

"the primary reason is that ZOMBIE is actually new for most of my readers"

I'm one of those readers who hasn't seen this movie, and am happy to have seen this review + the trailer link!

While i'm certainly no zombie aficionado, I do enjoy the genre and will definitely keep my eye out for a copy of this!

Dave Becker said...

@Klaus: Thanks for the comment, and yes, you'll definitely want to check out ZOMBIE. It's well worth it!

Anonymous said...

Don't listen to him DOCTOR SHOCK! i love Zombie, love the site, and love planet macabre.

How can anyone feel cheeted? last i checked, this site was FREE! Planet macabre-FREE! Gimmee a break!

Keep 'em coming, dr. Im loving it!

H in OH

Dave Becker said...

@H in OH: Thanks for the comment, and for stopping by.

While I do appreciate your support, I don't feel that the fact the site is free of charge gives me free reign to do whatever. I do feel a responsibility to the fans of Planet Macabre, which is why I plan to increase the number of horror movies. Sometimes, however, there will be crossover of films between this site and the show for the reasons I stated above. It won't be often, but it will happen.

The comments left above were the person's honest feelings, and I don't have a problem with that. He expressed his vi3ews, I expressed mine...end of story.

Thanks again for the comment, and for listening to Planet Macabre.