Zombie Flesh Eaters Blu-ray Review
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Written by Elisa Briganti and Dardano Sacchetti
1979, Region B, 85 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 3rd December 2012
Tisa Farrow as Anne Bowles
Ian McCulloch as Peter West
Richard Johnson as Dr. David Menard
Al Cliver as Brian Hull
Auretta Gay as Susan Barrett
Stefania D'Amario as Menard's Nurse
There are about three things anyone remembers Zombie Flesh Eaters for – the maggot infested zombie which appears in most of the promotional shots, a woman's eyeball being pierced in gruesome slow-motion – and, best of all, that bit in which a zombie fights a shark. What one usually forgets about, watching Zombie Flesh Eaters, is all of the tedious gaps between the action. That's completely understandable though. How could you not be distracted by the sight of a bloody zombie fighting a bloody shark?
A journalist and a young woman searching for her missing father voyage to a small Carribean island to investigate his disappearance. What they find there is lovely weather, a mad scientist, voodoo magic and the dead rising from their graves. Zombie Flesh Eaters was made as an Italian rip-off of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead (even billed as a sequel in some parts) but its influences go further back than that – to the earliest days of zombie cinema, in fact. At its heart, it is an old fashioned voodoo zombie film. Although the likes of I Walked With a Zombie never had the special effects at Fulci's disposal, nor the gall to show quite so much nudity all the time.
Unlike so many other video nasties, Zombie Flesh Eaters has aged rather well. The acting and English dubbing is a little off (which only adds to the charm) but the film looks absolutely lovely. The gore effects retain much the same power as they did all those years ago, particularly in the infamous eyeball impalement scene. The zombies look delightfully decomposed and rotten, the scenery breathtakingly beautiful. No, “breathtakingly beautiful” is not a word I ever thought I'd be using to describe Zombie Flesh Eaters either. Thinking about it though, there really is no better pairing of words to describe the sight of a zombie fighting a shark while a nubile young woman looks on with her boobs out. I keep coming back to that bit of imagery, but it really is quite perfect. With Zombie Flesh Eaters, Lucio Fulci delivered what might be my favourite scene in a zombie movie of all time. How Mary Whitehouse and her cronies could fail to be thrilled by that is beyond me.
The film's biggest problem (aside from people trying to ban it all the time) is with its story. The gaps between the action are too long, and the zombies take ages to properly arrive. Well, they are very slow shufflers, even by zombie standards. Fulci made a number of zombie films in his career, and Zombie Flesh Eaters is perhaps the weakest. With The Beyond and City of the Living Dead, he explored some fascinatingly surreal ideas, whereas this is more of a straightforward action/horror blend. It deserves its place in horror movie history, but just isn't as imaginative as the rest of Fulci's work. The ending is a disappointment too, with the characters just holed up in a burning shed, shooting at zombies for five minutes. If only Fulci had been able to do something more substantial with what he had at his disposal, Zombie Flesh Eaters could have been a bona fide classic.
This Blu-Ray release is the greatest restoration of an old minor classic I have ever seen. Who would have thought, after watching it on dodgy old VHS all those years ago, that it could ever resurface in such style. Suck it Mary Whitehouse, Zombie Flesh Eaters is here to stay.
Video and Audio:
Never has something so nasty looked so nice. The Blu Ray transfer is simply stunning. They could use Zombie Flesh Eaters to advertise Carribean Island holidays. It sounds great too – very often the soundtracks are my favourite thing about certain Italian video nasties, and this is one of the very best.
The film is introduced by star Ian McCulloch and accompanied by plenty of extras. In Aliens, Cannibals and Zombies, McCulloch looks back upon his most popular movies – Zombie Flesh Eaters being just one of them. From Script to Screen examines the movie's transition from, well, script to screen. Music for a Flesh-Feast is an interview with composer Fabio Frizzi, the man behind that wonderful music. Meanwhile, The Meat Munching Movies of Gino De Rossi has a merry look at the special effects work of De Rossi. Each of the features is a decent length too – none of that two-minute half-arsed nonsense you get from most DVD extras. Arrow Video, you really are spoiling us.
*Note: The screenshots on this page are publicity stills and not a reflection of the Blu-ray image.*