Ten years after Night of the Living Dead, Italian schlockmeister Lucio Fulci added to the zombie canon with a film about zombies, voodoo, and victims with bad peripheral vision.
Zombie’s value is almost all camp. Unlike, say, Shaun of the Dead, Zombie doesn’t offer the finer things like subtext or subtlety. It’s mostly about the horror of the dead coming back to life, and the inhuman things they might do to the living.
The film opens with a riff on Dracula. A sailing ship appears in New York’s harbor, drifting aimlessly and with nobody alive on board. “Nobody alive...” if you get my drift.
The daughter of the ship’s owner wants to know what happened to her father. She traces his last known whereabouts to a remote Caribbean island. Meanwhile, a reporter assigned to cover the story of the lost ship finds her. Together they travel to the island to find out what happened.
The island is under the hire of one those arrogant men of science you only find in horror movies. In his high British accent he says things like “Superstitious nonsense!” and “Voodoo won’t solve anything!” The protagonists press on to the island’s interior seeking more clues to the mysteries of the undead.
Banned in Britain for a decade, Zombie offers some impressive makeup and a few squirm-in-your-seat scenes of bloody mayhem. The highlight of the film, though, has to be the topless scuba diver encountering — underwater — first a zombie, and then a shark!
The film’s B-movie origins are apparent in the bad lip-sync, and in the apparent trouble in moving the camera too much. Zombies attack from just off-screen, which from the establishing shots, we’re able to see is a matter of inches in the real world. Victims fail to see or hear the nearby threat, or else they freeze in terror as the slow-moving zombies gradually grab them and eat them.
It’s all in good fun, if you’re into that sort of thing, and the movie — now digitally restored — cleans up very nicely, with hardly any dirt or scratches, and with almost no fading of colors.
Enjoy it at the midnight show.