Enter today's topic of discussion!
On the heels of the early Italian Release of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead (known around "The Boot" as Zombi) every Schlock fan demanded a sequel. To stop the Gap left by Romero's absence before 1985's Day of the Dead, Italian Director Lucio Fulci was only too happy to smear his combination of Death, Gore, Voodoo and Sculpted, Perky, Naked Female Breasts across Italian (and ultimately American) movie screens with Zombi 2!
So how does Zombi 2 rate when compared to Romero's official entries? Well, player, the only thing worse than a bad, low budget Horror movie where the Bad Guys win is a badly dubbed, foreign, bad, Low Budget horror Movie where i tipi difettosi win!
Film historians favoring Fulci will tell you that the script for Zombi 2 (by Elisa Briganti and uncredited partner Dardano Sacchetti) was complete before Dawn of the Dead hit Italy. Those not so favorable to Fulci will tell you that this is a shameless cash-in on Dawn of the Dead with obvious "homages"! Neither is quite right. While this is by no means a great film (even by Zombie Movie standards) there are a number of good moments surrounding creature effects, under-water scenes, surprises and Sculpted, Perky, Naked Female Breasts.
The thin plot begins with a derelict boat from the Caribbean being found without a crew in New York Harbor(!) by the Coast Guard. If you can accept that latex stretch then the rest of the "story" will sit okay with you. Anne Bowles (played by Mia's sister Tisa Farrow) teams up with New York reporter (with an English Accent) Peter West (Ian McCulloch) to find out what happened to Anne's Pappa (the missing owner of said boat).
After what feels like a month of Sundays the plot finally gets set up enough for something to happen. There's more expository time-wasting here than in a C-Span Filibuster! What (eventually) follows is our duo (now teamed up with a couple with a boat... so they didn't have to swim to the Caribbean) ending up on the island where Anne's father was last known to live. Sadly, despite the best efforts of the kooky Dr. David Menard (Richard Johnson), the island has now become overrun with the living dead! Naturally everyone who comes in contact with these rotting corpses gets eaten in ways more graphic than a TRL video. The rest of this movie you've seen before. Every cliche is there from the living being surrounded in a weak building by the walking dead to major characters coming back as Zombies too. This is one of the most predictable little films you could ever hope to smell!
And that's what makes this movie, for the most part, just another stupid zombie flick. This doesn't work as a "Sequel" to Dawn of the Dead (title be damned) per-se, but it might work as a simultaneous entry into the series (to be kind). Even then there are irreconcilable Gregory Benford Moments that can't be missed. The acting is bad, the directing, somewhat sloppy and I've already commented on how predictable the story is. Tisa Farrow (who may have thought that this would be her Rosemary's Baby) usually stares wide-eyed at the surroundings and give the occasional scream. The most interesting thing about her is her resemblance to Mia. She's got that same Farrow Sister Blank Stare and horrific non-acting gaze that old Mia must've had every night she saw Woody in the Nude! McCulloch seems embarrassed, Johnson, somewhat bored, and "the couple with the boat" (Al Cliver's horribly dubbed Brian Hull and Auretta Gay's screamy Susan Barrett) don't add much but a plot point contrivance and occasional gratuitous nudity. Her, not him, thank Goodness!
So what did they get right in this movie? Well, the nudity is pretty fantastic. Here's one delicious example: Gay, as Susan, decides to go Scuba Diving, so instead of putting on a wet suit and buoyancy compensator, she strips down to this barely there white thong and slaps on the Scuba Tank. What follows is a Topless Undersea Adventure which reveals the one thing that every Cousteau adventure lacked. The toplessness goes on and on and I really wasn't offended by it! (Paging LinneaB.Quigley! Paging LinneaB.Quigley!) However, like the halftime show at the 2004 Superbowl, they needed some nudity in this thing to distract attention from the overall negligible quality of the product!
Here's another good point: During the aforementioned underwater scene there's an interesting battle between Zombie and Tiger Shark that transcends the Urkel-Weak budget! If this used Trick Photography, puppets or SFX, I couldn't detect them. I mean (to me) it actually looked like a Zombie fighting a Shark! While this is no Jaws, no Titanic and no Orca even, this underwater sequence is a great entry into the Zombie canon, even without the nudity (not that the nudity hurt matters)!
Lastly, the Zombie effects were pretty decent, as were the scenes of intense (oft nauseating) gore. The spurting blood sequences are as good as Dawn of the Dead's and there are occasional disgusting surprises. From freshly deceased human-like Zombies to hundred year old Corpses with Maggots falling out of empty eye-sockets, there are some damned good gross effects.
But that's it, man! The lame attempts at merging Zombie Film Lore with actual Voodoo, the Spaghetti Western Dubbing, and most disturbingly, the final scene which (unintentionally) implies that the Undead can Drive Cars(!) all combine to make this a cow-flop of a film with the only things working for it pure gratuities! Still, if you're a stickler for Zombie films, this is a must see. Even a Bad zombie movie can be fun, and this one is no exception... well, most of the time! One last musing... the parade of scenes that take place on a Jungle Island with Monsters jumping out at every turn to eat the weary travelers made me wonder just a little bit if Mikey Crichton might have been watching this while he was writing a certain Dinosaur Novel. Nah!
Two and a Half Stars out of Five for Lucio Fulci's Zombi 2 (and that's me at my most generous)! Is it a valid entry into George Romero's Living Dead Series? Well, is FearDotCom a valid entry into Nakata's Ringu series? Why, no! However, if you want to keep keen on the Zombie films of past, present and future, if you are interested in knowing all you can about the umpteen official and unofficial entries into the Living Dead Trilogy, or if you like a re-definition of what it means to go "Skin Diving" you should give this flick a viewing! It's not really any good, but, hey, it's better than that Dawn of the Dead remake!
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