re-title sequence, we see a pistol being pointed directly at the screen… a seemingly dead human body, bound and covered by a sheet, begins to rise from a hospital bed… it is shot in the head. “The boat can leave now… Tell the crew!” says the unseen executioner.
An apparently abandoned boat drifts in on the tides into New York City Bay. The Big Apple’s skyline dominated by the Twin Towers is lit by a stark bright sunshine… the vessel is being circled by a police helicopter and pursued by the Harbor Patrol.
Two officers board and investigate. While searching one of the officers is attacked by a grotesque rotting yet powerful zombie. The second officer manages to shoot the monstrous cadaver into the bay.
A reporter named Peter West (McCulloch) is given the story and he immediately hooks up with Anne Bowles (Farrow) daughter of the yacht’s captain. She informs the NYPD that she hasn’t heard from her father in months after he went to the Antilles.
Down at the mortuary the corpse of the dead harbor patrolman is moving on the slab!
The reporter and the daughter fly to the Antilles and are connected up, by a cab driver to a couple that are sailing round the area. Peter explains they’re predicament and convinces Susan (Gay) & Brian Hull (Cliver) to help them find Matul where Anne’s missing father is.
Meanwhile on Matul Dr. David Menard (Johnson) and his fraught, neurotic wife (Karlatos) are at loggerheads due to his wife’s fear of all the rumors about zombie attacks on the island. She wishes to flee but he wants to remain and continue his research. He leaves her at home while he returns to his hospital.
Back on the boat Susan has decided to stop for a spot of scuba diving. Shortly after entering the water she is attacked by an underwater zombie. She escapes its grasp and the aquatic cadaver is involved in a unique face off with a shark!
The beautiful wife of Doctor Menard is taking a shower. She is spied upon by a zombie lurking just outside the window. While she is drying off the zombie crashes through the door and pulls her back through the doorframe impaling her eye in the process.
Following the shark incident the boat limps into a bay just off an island…. which happens to be Matul. Letting off flares they are soon spotted and Menard answers the distress call. He picks them up in his range rover and drives them to his hospital, a converted chapel. On the way he explains how Anne’s father died of a mysterious disease. He also informs on the reports of zombie’s roaming the island.
They arrive at he hospital but Menard is quickly called away. He asks if the visitors will go and check on his wife eight miles up the costal path.
When they arrive they find the wife being eaten but a hoard of zombies. Shocked they flee the house and head back to the hospital, but on the way they crash and are forced to make there way through the dark woods back to safety. Unfortunately they rest in a graveyard of the Spanish Conquistadors and are attacked from the grave. Some of the party makes it back to the chapel but it is not long before the zombies descend upon them.
After an onslaught from the zombies the survivors escape back to their damaged boat and head off into the ocean. The radio is switched on… it’s a New York station… an hysterical radio host informs that the zombies are taking over the major cities, a final shot shows the zombies staggering along the Brooklyn bridge...
Don't forget that Zombi 2 is now available to order on Widescreen DVD using our special 70s search device... [See DVD section or click here for more details]
By: Stuart Fitzgerald
‘Zombi 2’ was made in the aftermath of the worldwide success of George Romero’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’ (1978), but comes across more like a prequel. The Italian film industry in particular, had quickly latched onto the zombie genre of films and due to this, Lucio Fulci’s film is regarded by many, as just a cheap exploitation movie, without subtlety or originality… but I disagree… it’s a delicious ‘Spaghetti Horror’ which has little in common with Romero’s celebrated film.
Following the opening credits, we see a seemingly deserted boat drift into New York City Bay… the Big Apple’s skyline looks ominous and imposing, yet the boat seems to emanate a more pressing and urgent danger. The unfortunate Harbor Patrol officers soon discover the danger which lurks… and although the second officer shoots the on-coming zombie off the boat… those familiar with the zombie genre will have noted that zombie only took shot’s to the body and not the head. The promotional poster for the film at the time featured the ‘shot’ zombie surfacing from the Bay and making its way into the metropolis.
From the unsettling and violent opening, the film admittedly tails off for 20 mins while we our subjected to a couple of cranky plot devices as our protagonist’s acquaint and get themselves off to the Antilles.
Once arriving in the tropical paradise an uneasy tension permeates without the actual appearance of any zombies. The tension is created in small stylistically ways… an example, being when the two couples steam out of the port to the sounds of relaxed island calypso beats… the soundtrack abruptly changes as a sharp synth, coincides with a local islander observing their vessel and ominously crossing himself. Why does he do that? What does he know?
On Matul an omnipresent drumbeat and native wailings resonate around the island… slowly driving the unfortunate Mrs. Menard mad. The incessant beat alludes to discomfort and unrest for the natives on the scenic paradise.
As the two couples stroll along a beautiful sandy beach an unsettling presence lurks in the bushes, but remains concealed… for now.
Once the violence is unleashed though it is portrayed in a way only the Italians know how… the scene where Mrs. Menard has her eye impaled is probably one of the most shocking scenes of brutality ever witnessed on the screen. The “seeing” eye being penetrated by a pointed wooden splinter is a challenge from the director to the audience… we are here to “see” but the channel of vision is being penetrated, so can we watch? Most viewers flinch away as they do not want to “see” anymore. This is then Fulci’s triumph in creating the ultimate scene of horror and terror where the audience simply has to look away.
Looked at another way; one could interpret the scene as a sadistic analogy of machismo, which is so prevalent in Italian and especially Roman society… Fulci of course being a son of Rome… the phallic-like splinter slowly piercing and penetrating the oval shaped eye of the beautiful woman… beauty and absolute horror fascinatingly blended to effect not subsequently matched thus far in cinematic history... powerful stuff!
Ultimately ‘Zombi 2’ is a zombie movie, which does ‘dip it’s bread’ quite liberally from other films like, ‘Night of the Living Dead’ (1968), but nonetheless I think it stands “exploding heads and rotting shoulders” above others of the genre due to its tense uncomfortable atmosphere and merging of pure beauty and repellent visuals, which for me at least, evoke the equally disturbing masterpiece from Tobe Hooper ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’.
So although ‘Dawn of the Dead’ seems to take the plaudits, I only found the first scene of that movie disturbing… after that it merged genres well to comic effect but wasn’t really frightening… don’t get me wrong it’s a great movie but for the “We Are Going to Eat You” genre, I’m with Fulci!
‘Zombi 2’ was released in the UK as ‘Zombie Flesh-Eaters’ in 1980. The company behind the distribution Vipco, took an almost unprecedented step of releasing two different versions of the film; the ‘X’ print and a ‘Strong Uncut Version’. Video dealers soon realized that given the choice, barely a soul would knowingly rent the butchered version.
The film was released as ‘Zombie’ in the US.
The film’s ‘sales title’ was ‘The Island of the Living Dead’.
‘Zombi 2’ was first screened on 25th August 1979 and made for just $475,000 and pulled in $30,000,000 worldwide!
The move was shot between June & July 1979 on location in New York & Santa Domingo in the Antilles with interiors filmed at Elios R.P.A. Studios in Rome.
Richard Johnson who played Dr. Menard had worked for Italian directors in the horror genre before his role for Fulci. He worked for Damiano Damiani in ‘The Witch’ (1966), Massimo Dallamano in ‘The Cursed Medallion’ (1974) and for Sergio Martino in both ‘Island of the Fishmen’ (1978) & ‘The Great Alligator’ (1979). In Stephen Thrower’s fabulous ‘Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci’ an absolute ‘must have’ book for Fulciphiles and horror film aficionados… he states that Fulci was in awe of Johnson. It’s plainly understandable as he has a real Richard Burton quality to him.
Ian McCulloch who played reporter Peter West in ‘Zombi 2’ also starred in Marino Girolami’s ‘Zombie Holocaust’.
In an interview with Jim Wynorski for Fangoria in 1979, Fulci said “I wanted to recapture the moody atmosphere of witchcraft and paganism that must have been prevalent when Europeans first settled in the Caribbean during the 1700s. That’s when the concept of zombies – human slaves brought back from the dead – first became popularly known to western civilization. I’ve always held great admiration for the marvelous horror classics made in America… Fright films such as ‘I Walked With a Zombie’, ‘Voodoo Island’ and ‘The Walking Dead’ were all in the back of my mind as I made the picture.”
Lucio Fulci makes his customary cameo this time as Peter West’s news editor.
Al Cliver who played Brian Hull in ‘Zombi 2’ was a regularly used by Fulci, this film was his first appearance but he went on to appear in a heap of other Fulci movies… ‘The Black Cat’ (1981), ‘The Beyond’ (1981), ‘The New Gladiators’ (1984), ‘Murder Rock – Dancing Death’ (1984), ‘Touch of Death’ (1988), ‘The Ghosts of Sodom’ (1988), ‘The House of Clocks’ (1989) and ‘Demonia’ (1990).
Tisa Farrow, who played Anne Bowles in ‘Zombi 2’, was a party guest in Woody Allen’s ‘Manhattan’ (1979). She only made two more films after ‘Zombi 2’.
Beautiful Olga Karlatos who played the unfortunate Mrs. Menard, worked extensively in Italian cinema, her career highlights include Enzo G. Castellari’s spaghetti western ‘Keoma’ (1976) with Franco Nero and Sergio Leone’s ‘Once Upon a Time in America’ (1984). She worked again with Fulci in ‘Murder Rock – Dancing Death’ (1984).
The hugely talented cinematographer Sergio Salvati was an integral part of Fulci’s success, he worked on nearly all Fulci’s more memorable work. As well as shooting ‘Zombi 2’ he also shot ‘Four of the Apocalypse’ (1975), ‘The Psychic’ (1977), ‘Silver Saddle’ (1978), ‘Contraband’ (1980), ‘City of the Living Dead’ (1980), ‘The Black Cat’ (1981) ‘The Beyond’ (1981) and ‘House by the Cemetery’ (1981). He also got a writing credit on ‘The Black Cat’ and was one of the mob at the beginning of ‘The Beyond’.
Co-writer of ‘Zombi 2’ Dardano Sacchetti like Sergio Salvati was also an integral member of ‘Team Fulci’, he co-wrote ‘The Psychic’ (1977), ‘City of the Living Dead’ (1980), ‘The Beyond’ (1981), ‘House by the Cemetery’ (1981), the notorious ‘The New York Ripper’ (1982), ‘Manhattan Baby’ (1982) and ‘The New Gladiators’ (1984). He was also a mob member at the beginning of ‘The Beyond’. He came to prominence working with Dario Argento on ‘The Cat O’ Nine Tails’ (1971), and also worked with Mario Bava on ‘Bay of Blood’ (1971) and Mario’s son Lamberto on ‘Demons 2’ (1986).
know some Zombi 2 trivia that we could add? [Please
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Featured Location: The Island
Wanna see the real life location used for The Island in the movie? It was actually filmed at The beaches and island, located at Santo Domingo in Dominican Republic.
Up until his death in 1996, Fulci often told interviewers that he "Wanted to send them (the zombies) back to their origins. This is why we shot the film in Santo Domingo (in the Dominican Republic)".
Can you help? Do you know any of the Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (or any other) filming locations used for Zombi 2? [Please send them in]
|Trailer, Commentary, Featurette, Notes|
2 disc special edition!|
Doesn't have commentary.|
Four musicians worked on creating the ‘Zombi 2’ soundtrack. Fabio Frizzi, Giorgio Cascio, Adriano Giordanella & Maurizio Guarini.
The latter two were uncredited for their efforts for some reason, but Frizzi who had worked with Fulci on other memorable films composed the lion’s share of the track.
He had also composed ‘Four of the Apocalypse’ (1975), ‘The Psychic’ (1977), ‘Silver Saddle’ (1978), ‘Contraband’ (1980), ‘City of the Living Dead’ (1980),‘The Beyond’ (1981) and ‘Manhattan Baby’(1982).
He utilized the synthesizer to impressive effect to create a soundtrack that mirrors the bizarre and terrifying images from the film. The title theme is classic and ‘parks its car in the same garage’ as John Carpenter’s early compositions in its fairly simplistic but effective arrangement.
The rest of the score also stands up well and along with ‘The Beyond’ has become a must-have soundtrack for those who collect them.
Soundtrack Available: On CD
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