Search the Cinema Head Cheese Archives!

February 9, 2013

Movie Review: Zombie Flesh Eaters (Blu-ray, 1979)

Review By: Rob Sibley

Note: This review is for the Arrow UK release of “Zombie Flesh Eaters” which is Region B locked. So you will need an all region Blu-ray player or live in the UK to play this release.

Lucio Fulci's Zombie or as it's known in the UK “Zombie Flesh Eaters” is a classic. No doubt about it this is one of Fulci's most beloved and widely seen films and it's not hard to see why. This film encapsulates everything that made 1970's Italian horror so much fun.

The plot starts off with a yacht drifting through the NY harbor, soon two cops board the derelict vessel and soon are attacked and munched upon a very large and very hungry. Right out of the gate Fulchi hits us with his trademark gore.

The owner of the yacht is missing though which sets into motion the bulk of the story. As his daughter, played by the ever so lovely Tisa Farrow decides to find out what happened to her pops. Farrow enlists the help of a journalist played with bravado by Ian McCulloch (Luigi Cozzi's Contamination).

They are joined also by a few friends to help them out on their journey to the Island “Matool” where Farrow's father was last seen. Once they arrive on the island they meet up with a crazy doctor played with glee by Richard Johnson (The Night Child). He tells them to stay away from the village... so what do they do? They head to village and soon find themselves in a load of shit as the dead begin to rise.

Touted as Italy's answer to Romero's Dawn of the dead, this couldn't be further from the truth. Both films are completely different beasts. Romero's film is certainly better in many regards but Zombie wins out on the special effects front. Unlike Dawn where the zombies were pretty much just painted blue the zombies here are full of rot, worms and literally do look like walking corpses.

The film is rather infamous for one scene involving a gal getting her eye gouged out in graphic detail. Not to mention the ultra fun “zombie vs shark” sequence. The film features plenty of exploding heads, gut munching to feed any gore hound's appetite.

What makes this film special to me (besides the gore) is the astounding amount of atmosphere Fulchi was able to capture. These people are stuck on this doomed island and you feel like your right there with them. The performances, especially Ian McCulloch's are much stronger then your typical Italian horror flick.

What's not to love about this film? It's a classic and if you haven't seen it? Shame on you.

The Blu-ray from Arrow UK is a revelation, it even blows the American Blue Underground release out of the water. Sourced from the original Techniscope 2-perf 35mm negative and presented in it's 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This 1080P transfer is as good as Zombie is ever going to look. Arrow was also smart to keep some of the comforting 35MM film grain. No DNR was detected. Outstanding.

The audio is equally impressive, I especially appreciate the inclusion of the original 2.0 audio track. So you can have your choice of English or Italian audio. Doesn't really matter which one you click because like most Italian films of the time, the film wasn't shot with sync-sound. The English track is preferable but you can't go wrong either way.

The extras are... exhaustive to say the least. I thought I already knew everything there was to be known about the film from the previous Anchor Bay and Blue Underground releases. But Arrow UK were thoughtful enough to film so spectacular bonus features.

Disk 1 includes two commentary tracks. The first featuring Fulci expert Stephen Thrower and the ever so awesome Alan Jones (Author of the must read “Profondo Argento”). These two guys have a blast discussing the film. It's a fun listen, well worth your time.

The second track features screenwriter Elisa Briganti who is filled with a wealth of information regarding the production. It's a great listen for Fulci fans.

Next up is a fun documentary “From Romero to Rome: The Rise and Fall of the Italian Zombie Film.” which delves into the history of the Italian horror boom and features interviews with such notable players in Italian Cinema such as Luigi Cozzi and Ruggero Deodato. Even the ever so talented Brit director Darren Ward (Sudden Fury, Day of Violence) shows up to share his thoughts.

Included as well are a few cool trailers and some TV spots. We round things out with a brand new introduction from Ian McCulloch.

It should be noted, the Blu-ray is missing one feature that was on Blue Underground's release and the previous Anchor Bay releases. It featured actor McCulloch and was a great listen. It's a shame it wasn't included on this release. So if your a purist or a collector and you plan on picking up this release then hold onto your old DVD or the BU blu-ray. Also exclusive to the US BU release was an introduction by Guillermo del Toro and an 18 minute interview of him expressing his profound love for the film.

Disk 2 starts out with a 44 minute interview with McCulloch as he recalls working with Fulci. He also gives his thoughts on two other Italian productions Zombie Holocaust and Contamination that he acted in. Then we get an odd little 3 minute featurette “From Script to screen”. Next up is a 26 minute interview with Fabio Frizzi the films composer.

Then we move onto one of the highlights of disk 2 which is an interview with the legendary special effects make up artist Giannetto De Rossi who still to this day is still working on various productions. He has a fantastic memory and it's fun to listen to this legend discuss his craft and working with Fulci.

Also a 40 page booklet is to be included with the release.

WOW, this is a mind blowing Blu-ray that any Fulci fan will want to pick up. Sadly unlike a lot of Arrow's Blu's this one is Region B, but I'd say this release would warrant an upgrade to an all region Blu player. It manages to blow Blue Undergrounds Hi-Def release out of the water in all areas. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

No comments:

Post a Comment