Saturday, October 24, 2009

31 Days of Halloween - Day 24 - Movie 2

Lucio Fulci's "Zombie" (1979) came hot on the heels of George Romero's "Dawn of the Dead" and became a huge hit in Italy. While this movie is filled with the slow moving, flesh eating zombies that Romero made popular, there's little else connecting these two movies.

A sailboat with no one seemingly aboard sails into the waters around New York City. When police investigate it, a zombie is discovered aboard who kills one of the cops, then is shot by the other and falls overboard. A woman, whose missing father owned the boat, teams up with a reporter to go looking for him on an island that his last letter (found aboard the boat) came from. They find a young couple to take them to the island where an epidemic of zombies is occurring in. The natives blame voodoo. A European doctor on the island tries to find a more rational explanation for the zombies. All hell breaks loose. Zombies attack the humans. The humans fight back. There are casualties, fires, and in the end, the survivors escape the island only to learn that a major epidemic of flesh eating zombies is now plaguing New York City.

This movie begins with a bit of a bang, then drags for awhile until everyone gets to the island and all hell breaks loose. This movie is famous for two scenes. The first features an underwater zombie who first attacks a topless woman scuba diving in the smallest thong imaginable, then after she escapes, attacks a shark instead. Later, in the film's more notorious moment, another woman slowly has her head pulled forward so that a large wooden splinter impales her eyeball. The special effects in this movie are mostly pretty crude, but effective because of that. The zombies themselves are even slower than George Romero's and even more dimwitted, which makes them a pretty frightening bunch, because it does make them seem like mindless corpses risen from their graves who simply shuffle around unless a victim is nearby.

I have no complaints about the cast, direction, cinematography, or music. The movie's weakest element is its script and its editing. The premise for the movie is pretty solid, but the way the story is told needs work. There's not a real sense of suspense or menace in the movie. After their car breaks down, the cast flees on foot, including one member who is moving slowly due to an ankle injury. The zombies are all around them, but the injured man and the woman he's paired up with take time to make out while the dead rise up from the earth all around them. At other points, characters will scream in terror, about to be attacked, while the other people in the next room take their time before going to assist them, even though they know what's happening. the climactic showdown also felt way too safe. The human survivors shot and threw molotov cocktails at extremely slow shuffling zombies from a safe distance. It's not a particularly tense, or frightening movie, but if you've run through the Romero films and are still craving more slow, flesh eating zombies, this movie can easily fill that need.

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