Zombie - Zombie( Blu Ray & CD) [Blue Underground - 2018]
Zombie is not only one of the more effective living dead films ever made, it also stands as a high point in 1980’s Italian genre cinema. The film aptly balances campy adventure elements, over the top- but very skilful executed gore, moments of brooding dread, and some damn great rotting ‘n’ decaying walking dead. Here on Blue Underground is truly the ultimate edition of this classic film-this three-disc forty-anniversary release of the film, takes in a splendid new 4k scan, a good enough selection of new extras, a bludging bunch of previously released extras, the films soundtrack on CD, and a glossy colour booklet….oh and a very neat Lenticular 3D cover, of the key worms in eyehole zombie.
Released in 1979 Zombie (aka Zombie Flesh Eaters, Zombi 2) was first proper all-out horror film from Lucio Fulci, who had been directing since the late 1950s. Over his career, before this, he’d touched down in quite a few genres going from comedy, drama & musical mixers, westerns, and Giallo where he flirted with gory murders & vague horror elements. Zombie was also the first of Fulci's infamous series of four highly gory & progressively more surreal living dead-themed films- which took in 1980’s City Of The Living Dead, 1981’s The Beyond & House By The Cemetery. Of the four Zombie is most certainly the more fun and campy- though there are still more than a few gut retching & extreme effect sequences.
The film begins with a seemingly unmanned boat making its way into New York cities harbour- two policemen get on board to find a huge & lumbering zombie who tries to attack them. Fairly soon into the story steps plucky British reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch), who teams with Anne Bowles (Tisa Farrow), the daughter of the yacht's owner. The pair travel to the small & remote Caribbean island of Matul, to try & track down her father- and come across an island invested with shambling, worm crawling, and decaying living Dead.
Zombie effectively moves between campy & bright adventure vibe, brooding & creepy atmospherics, and impressive staged gore sequences which nicely build with dread & tension. We have an underwater zombie attacking a shark, the infamous eyeball impaled on a wooden splinter scene, well staged & gooey gut munching, impressive blood spurting neck rips, and rotting heads carved in, etc. It’s all executed with some great lush-to-brooding cinematography, great pacing, with an effective electronic based score that moves from campy & Caribbean flavoured, onto darkly ritual, through to brooding & sinister beats ‘n’ synth- scaping
Moving onto this new edition- and first off let's discuss the new 4k print- this is nicely balanced- coming across good in both the more brooding & murky shots, and the brighter, at times more bloody & gore bound moments. Thankfully most of the effects still manage to look convincing & grim- with none of the sometimes rubbery/ layered effect coming through, which sometimes occur when films of this age are remastered. Really the new scan looks great, and Blue Underground has really managed to give you the best possible picture you could want.
Next let’s talk about the new extras on this edition- first, you get a new commentary track from Troy Howarth- cult film expert & author of Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films. This, as we’ve come to expect from Mr Howarth, is packed full of facts & observations- he discusses everything from key & minor role actor bios, behind the scene anecdotes, a potted history of zombie cinema, the films locations, Fulci career in general, and more- it really is a great track, that easily welcomes second & third play through, as he covers so much ground. Next, we get a thirty-three-minute featurette from the always worthy Stephen Thrower- here he discusses his personal experience with the film- with him first seeing it cut on the big screen, the later on VHS in it’s uncut form. Moving on to discuss the history behind the film's pre-production, and that Fulci wasn’t the first choice for directing. Before moving onto discussing/ reviewing the film in generally- stopping to in detail about each of the key effects scene- another great extra!.
On top of these new extras, we get a good selection of stuff previously released extras- these take in a second commentary track featuring male lead Ian McCulloch and Jason J. Slater - Editor of Diabolik Magazine. Next, there’s a whole second disc taking in a host of six to twenty-minute featurettes- these go from Zombie Wasteland on stage interview with cast & crew. Interview with composer Fabio Frizzi. Interview with Fulci daughter Antonella . and appreciation of the film by Guillermo del Toro, and more.
Of the other extras here we get a twenty-page colour inlay booklet- which sees Stephen Thrower return to discuss the films success in the USA when it first played there and various reviews- both positive & negative from the time. Also featured are press clippings, posters, and stills. Next we, of course, have the CD soundtrack of Fabio Frizzi score- this takes in the Beat CD pressing from 1998-, of course, minus the soundtrack for Fulci later A Cat In The Brain, which also appeared on the original disc. Though topping off the disc is throbbing euro disco track "There’s No Matter"- this was co-written by Frizzi- this plays in the background of one of the film's scenes, and as far as I’m aware this is the first time it’s appeared on a release of the soundtrack.
All in all this Blue Underground release is a great, great edition of this true euro-horror classics. Which really is worth picking up, whether you already have this in another form, or if you’ve never seen the film before. A real Gold Standard reissue!Roger Batty