Friday, May 14, 2010

"Zombi 2"(1980)d/Lucio Fulci

We masticate the weekend's tender neckflesh with Lucio Fulci's most well-known film,a box-office smash in Europe,and the subject of multiple bannings and extensive censorship throughout the world.Fulci was suggested as a replacement to direct by Enzo "Great White" Castellari,when the action director turned the script down in its early stages,and the rest,as they say,is history.I first saw this movie in its first run at the American Theater with my late,great Aunt Giulia,who managed to see about 15 minutes of it,due to her frequent lobby visits to smoke cigarettes.Cigarettes and horror movies were her two joys in life,so it's no surprise that she'll always be my favorite Auntie,may her soul rest in peace.My fragile ten year old mind could never have fathomed what it was in for,thus irreparably twisted by what I saw alone in that darkened theater that day.The infamous one sheet proudly hung next to "Maniac!"(1980)in my bedroom until I finally had the common sense to frame the damned thing decades later.Everything about this movie,from the infectious and haunting score by Fabio Frizzi to the arterial spurting goodness of Giannetto De Rossi's effects work,screams masterpiece.The film shot Fulci's career,which was stuck in neutral at the time,into high gear,forever establishing the director as the gory generalissimo of grotesque set-pieces.Arguably one of the greatest horror movies ever made,by one of the greatest directors of genre cinema of all-time.If you're even slightly into horror films,and have passed on this one all this time,I seriously shudder to think what the fuck is wrong with you.Maybe chick flicks are more your speed...
"Put up yer pectoral fins,ya big swimmin' garbage can!",says Aqua-zombie.
When a seemingly abandoned yacht floats into the New York harbor,the investigating patrol officers are surprised by a massive rotting zombie,who proceeds to bite one of the policemen's throat out,before being sent overboard by a flurry of bullets that have little effect on the ravenous walking corpse.After Anne(Tisa Farrow)is questioned about her father's boat by authorities,she joins forces with reporter Peter West(Ian McCulloch),aided by a pair of pleasure cruisers(Pier Luigi Conti and Auretta Gay),to seek out a tiny Carribean island named Matool,where her missing father's last letter came from.Meanwhile,on Matool("That's not a cool place to hit.",says Brian(Conti)),Dr. Menard(Richard Johnson) is fighting an uphill battle against an unknown disease that brings the dead back to life,amidst superstitious villagers and voodoo drums on the other side of the island.His neglected wife,Paola(Karlatos),is on the verge of a nervous breakdown,and seeks refuge at the bottom of a glass of liquor while her husband spends his time peering into microscopes and shooting his patients in the head as they ominously rise from their deathbeds.Back on the boat,Susan(Gay)'s topless snorkelling is interrupted by a huge tiger shark on the prowl,but when she swims to the ocean bottom to momentarily hide from the massive predator,she's attacked by a waterlogged underwater zombie.She retreats to the boat as the zombie and shark duke it out in the depths,the shark chewing the corpse's arm off as the ghoul takes a bite out of the shark's underbelly.
"Would I(wood-eye)??!!"says Paola(Olga Karlatos).
When the foursome reaches Matool,the good doctor informs Anne of her father's fate;molten lead headshot death after becoming infected by a bite from one of the island's undead.He asks the group to check on his wife at their bungalow,but when they arrive they find her being devoured alive by a pack of flesh-crazed zombies,after being pulled through a smashed doorway by the hair and a twelve inch wooden splinter pierces her eyesocket(!!!).When their jeep breaks down in the middle of the jungle,they find themselves smackdab in the middle of an ancient conquistador graveyard,grown over by the lush foliage.After Susan eats throat-tearing,blood-gurgling death administered by rotten zombie teeth,the remaining three rush to the old church where Menard has set up his makeshift "hospital",only to find that its been surrounded by an army of shambling undead ghouls,only shotgun shells and molotov cocktails temporarily keeping them at bay.During the desperate struggle,dead patients rise inside the hospital,eating the doctor's assistants,and finally the doctor himself.As Peter,Anne,and Brian rush to escape to the boat,they're greeted by Susan's zombie who bites her boyfriend's shoulder before taking one lead delivery to the domepiece.The reporter and girl lock the dying seaman below deck,hoping to use him as proof of their incredible tale when they reach the mainland,but are shocked to hear a radio broadcast of New York City hopelessly under siege by flesh-eating zombies.
Ottaviano Dell'Acqua,making one of the more memorable entrances in cinema history.
What can I say about this one that hasn't already been said?It reeks of atmosphere and tension like few zombie films do.Arguments will go back and forth 'til the end of time over which is better,this,or Romero's "Dawn of the Dead"(1979),which was released as "Zombi" in Europe,thus the 2 tacked onto Fulci's title though there are no connections between the films,with no clear cut winner,in most cases.Both are Top Ten in my book,and too drastically different to compare.Fulci went on to tackle the awful Zombi 3 in the Phillipines,originally slated as a 3D release,but the film was left incomplete due to an illness the maestro came down with on location,only shooting roughly sixty percent of the final production,with Italian sleaze king Bruno Mattei finishing the job.Mattei still claims the finished pile of shit is Fulci's,but I think anyone who knows a little about Italian horror movies can draw their own conclusions on who's film it is.As for Zombi 2,don't let me rave on all day about it,see it for yourself.I strongly recommend it and give it the highest rating possible.
I hope Peter Luger's has enough open tables...


Nigel M said...

some thoughts on this film:

Fulci apparently wrote to Argento attacking his hijacking the whole zombie thing. A bit unfair really, as it was Romero and not Argento anyway, but Fulci didnt like argento so wouldnt let that minor detail get in the way :)

Another thought: In zombi 2 we get a taste of Fulci's Marxism. The third world setting is admittedly a reference to the genre origins but there is some politics: The rising of dead colonialism (the incredible conquistador scene) and how the ragged zombies with third world origin march on what is the global financial centre, maybe revolution? It also dovetails with argento/romero conveniently and could make it an unofficial PREQUEL to zombi rather than the sequel the title suggests.

On structure:
Notice the similarity in structure to Anthropohagus? opening scene with empty boat and then some gore, then the travelogue stuff, then a yacht trip, the the island ad things get going :)

anyhow- top notch film and the one that introduced me to fulci as a kid. True I'd already seen White Fang at the cinema but I was about 4 then and wouldnt even know what a director was

beedubelhue said...

Valid points all,my pedigree pal.Ahhhh,Anthropophagus,my favorite non-wank D'Amato.Similar preludes to action,indeed.Your thoughts on a Fulci post are like icing on a healthy slab of reefer cake.


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