In 1968, the late, great director George A. Romero shocked the world with his film NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and turned zombies into the modern nightmare we now know. That film, along with its sequels, pretty much set a new standard for how zombies would be portrayed on film, television and anywhere else. Then in 1979, Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci (THE BEYOND, MANHATTAN BABY) decided to make his first horror film and for my money, one of the most disturbing zombie movies ever committed to celluloid. ZOMBIE (aka ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS and ZOMBI 2) is pretty much the definitive Italian zombie movie. It followed the success of Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD and was released in Italy (where it was called ZOMBI) as a sequel to that film, while in the United States, it became a quintessential grindhouse movie.
The zombie action kicks in when a mysterious and abandoned boat sails into the New York harbor. Upon investigation, two police officers soon learn the boat isn’t abandoned and are attacked by a gruesome, bloated zombie leaving one of the officers “dead” by the zombie’s bite… yes, we all know what’s gonna eventually happen. The owner of the boat is soon identified and is missing. Luckily his daughter (played by Tisa Farrow) is found, who teams up with a journalist (played by Ian McCulloch, CONTAMINATION) and an adventurous couple before setting off to a mysterious island in hopes of learning what has happened to her father. The highlight of their journey is probably one of the most outrageous sequences you’ll find in any zombie movie… and that sequence is the infamous zombie vs shark underwater fight (this scene alone is worth the price of admission!) Once they reach the island, they meet a scientist (played by Richard Johnson) who fills them in on the horrible proceedings plaguing the island. Now with all that exposition out of the way, Fulci unleashes his horde of zombies upon our cast of characters and the audience can sit back and enjoy that trademark Fulci violence… which there’s plenty of.