Zombie 5: Killing Birds - Zombie 5: Killing Birds (Blu Ray) [Vinegar Syndrome - 2020]They say you shouldnít judge something by its cover- and that most certainly the case for Zombie 5: Killing Birds, from the garish poster artwork of birds descending & ripping up a mans face, youíd imagine this was a living dead avian gore ride, thatís pacey & camp. The reality is it's a largely low-key & plodding semi-supernatural thriller, with good enough creepy atmos, moments of plot puzzlement, fairly gory murders, and later on a few zombie attacks. Here from Vinegar Syndrome is a recent region free Blu Ray reissue of the film- taking in a new 2k scan, commentary track & interviews.
Zombie 5: Killing Birds( aka Killing Birds: Raptors) appeared in 1987. It was directed by Claudio Lattanzi, with unaccredited co-director credit going to prolific & trashy euro director Joe D'Amato. By low budget 80ís Italian fare it's shot well enough, with some decent if fleeting gore effects- the issue here is the pacing, which at points literally does crawl along
The film begins with a returning home from service soldier- who finds his wife in bed with another man- he slashes his throat, then chases her, slashes her throat (with exactly the same effect set up), before grabbing his & hers baby. But just as he trying to make it out of the house, he lets the many birds in captivity there out- and one of these pulls his eye out. We seemingly move forward some years, and focus in on a group of university students who go on a field trip to the Louisiana swamplands to find a rare bird Ė the main lead they have of its existence is a blind man(Robert Vaughn) who is meant to the same man from the opening. The group go out deep into swamplands, coming across a seemingly abandoned house- strange things start happening like one of the group has weird visions of their classmates crucified to walls, and someone is set on fire to run off into the woods. In (some) time zombie-like creatures appear- and start stalking the group.
It takes around forty-five minutes for the film to fully click in- at first we get the group wondering around swampland to great wonky & not at tall mood-setting easy listening music. The group gets to the fairly creepy house, though not an awful lot happens initially. And even then at the midway point, thereís not really any gore/ excitement swinging into the last quarter- sure there is a mildly creepy/ uneasy feel to the house- but itís decidedly subdued. When the gore & zombie attacks do appear these are impressive enough- we have someone pulled up into the roof, with their face half ripped off. Someone getting sucked into the machinery by their necklace- getting their neck badly ripped/scored(there is a lot of neck damage/ slashing on this film), and generally effective at times jumpy zombie stalk & attack. In summing up Zombie 5: Killing Birds, Iíd say if you go into this expecting a blend of thriller/ creepy house horror- with gore & Zombie action not coming onto towards the end- then you may well enjoy what we have here well enough, just donít go in thinking this is going to be a gory & manic when zombie attack movie- because itís most certainly not that.
Moving onto the new Blu Ray- and the 2k print looks as you'd expect with a VS release crystal clear, well defined & balanced. You can either chose English or Italian language version of the film, I went for the English, and as euro exploitation goes itís fairly well done, with no real glaringly bad or amusing voice acting. Moving onto the extras, and first, off we get a commentary track from US film historian and author Samm Deighan. This is well researched & informative- as she moves from talking about the films rather genre mash-up feel, and other similar films of the period. Going onto discussing how the film fits in with the Zombie series and the other films that fit in this largely lose & unrelated series. Moving onto talking about Joe D'Amatoís other films, his production companies, and how much of the film she think he was responsible for. She moves onto discuss the crew, then cast- so it's a track thatís certainly worth a play for fans of 80ís Italian horror/ genre pics. Next, we get a forty-nine-minute on-screen interview with director Claudio Lattanzi- here he talks about how he first got involved with Italian cinema, moving onto discuss the film's script & itís changes, itís filming, etc- itís certainly a very thorough & in-depth interview. Next, we get a fifteen-minute on-screen interview with the films sound recordist Larry Revene. So a good selection of extras.
In finishing Zombie 5: Killing Birds is very much of a curio- as it rather slips between various genres, but never fully commits to one. Iíd say if you enjoy late 80ís/ early 90ís euro exploitation thatís decidedly unpredictable in its genre traits, then this will be your cup of tea. And once again the guys from VS release have done a great & classy reissue of this oddity.Roger Batty