The next zombie movie to be featured in DK Canada’s highly enjoyable (and bloody) Monsters in the Movies book has been on the periphery of my life for a long time, though I had never seen it. I remember seeing the poster for Zombie aka Zombie Flesh Eaters aka Zombi 2 on the theater sheet that was issued monthly when I lived at CFB Borden in the 70s as well as coming across images of it on magazine covers like Fangoria.
I was repulsed and frightened by the grotty skull which seemed to be sloughing off flesh and spew maggots from its eyes. And I never got around to seeing it until now…
Young Anne Bowles (Tisa Farrow) is pulled into a gory mystery when her father’s sailboat arrives in New York harbor, seemingly abandoned, though a pair of cops are attacked by a zombie (!). With the aid of a reporter, Peter West (Ian McCulloch) they discover that Anne’s father, a scientist, was working in the Caribbean on the island of Matul.
On the tropical island, voodoo runs rampant, and the dead have been raised. Anne, Peter, and the crew they’ve recruited to take them to the island soon find themselves in a fight for survival.
The makeup work is great, and bloody, and the film maker’s delight in the grossness and situations that they can put their characters both living and undead in, which includes an underwater sequence involving a topless diver, a shark and a hungry zombie.
Anne and her friends are aided by Dr. Menard (Richard Johnson) who was working with her father on Matul with the zombies, trying to understand them, control them, learn from them, and ultimately kill them.
This one is a cult classic, the kills, the effects, the nudity, the locations, there is a lot going for this film, and it is just a wonderfully gory romp.
The zombies themselves are mostly of the shuffling variety, unless a story point asks for something more, like swimming and fighting a shark, and they seem to quite happily take their time with the devouring of human flesh.
This is definitely a new guilty pleasure for me, the blood, the gore, the kills, all of them are wonderfully exemplary, and considering this was released in 1979, it’s pretty bold, and gets away with a lot. There is some truly inspired effects work.
Sure watching it now, not all the zombie look as frightening as one would think, and the poster zombie which so frightened me as a child isn’t so much to be worried about on the screen, and the maggots were only worms… But all of it works for the film, and just the unstoppable nature of these zombies (but for destroying their brain) makes their assault truly horrific, and leads to the film’s terrifying conclusion, showing is that it may be too late for all of us…
Haven’t seen this one? Check it out! Or pick up a copy of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies and find something appropriately bloody and macabre to watch tonight!