Zombie [Flesh Eaters]
, 15 Aug 2005
In his attempt to sequelise, and cash in on, Dawn Of The Dead Lucio Fulci makes a film that surpasses Romero's in all respects. The first thing that must be mentioned in regard to Zombie is its technical brilliance on what was probably a very low budget Fulci and make up artist Gianetto Di Rossi have created the best zombie make up yet seen on screen. It is also worth remembering that this film was made in 1979 and the make up remains unsurpassed. There are several sequences in this film that rank among the very best in horror cinema. Perhaps the most famous is the sequence of a zombie walking on the sea bed and fighting with a shark. Okay the shark looks a little decrepit but it is clearly real and this can't have been a comfortable stunt to perform. Helped by a hypnotic score by Fabio Frizzi and the almost slow motion effect created underwater Fulci crafts a beautiful sequence which will lodge itself in your memory. The most notorious scene in the film is the one in which Dr Menard's (Johnson) wife has her eye put out on a sharp piece of wood, the effect is absolutely horrific, you can almost feel the moment. It looks shockingly brutal and real and is yet another moment that lifts this film above the many other exploitation horror films of the late 70's. Fulci, as director, crafts some memorable shots such as the moment where the camera finds a lone zombie in the village and tracks 360 degrees around him, this shot also shows off Gianetto Di Rossis make up to the best effect and it stands up well to the close up inspection we can give it in this scene. What really makes these zombies superior to those in Romero's film is that here they really look dead, the zombies Romero and Tom Savini created were simply discoloured. This makes Fulci's lumbering, decaying corpses far more frightening than any other movie zombie. As is often the case with Fulci the script and acting go by the wayside a bit, Tisa Farrow (yes, she's Mia's sister) in particular shows exactly why she was replaced by Catriona MacColl when City Of The Living Dead came around in 1980. McCulloch and Johnson, both Shakespearean actors, compete to see who can chew more scenery (Johnson, constantly wiping his brow, wins). The script though has an interesting circular stucture, beginning and ending on a boat, and indeed on very similar shots. The final revelation, via radio, of the spread of the zombies is a trademark of Fulci's, his films don't really appear to end, they simply stop and allow us to imagine where the rest of the story might take the characters. This can, as in City Of The Living Dead, be an annoyance but in Zombie it provides the film a final moment of real horror as we see that the characters will not, despite escaping Matul, survive. Having seen a good amount of the 'video nasties' which were banned in 1984 I can honestly say that Zombie is the best of them, and probably the one that will stand the test of time best. It's a real shame that Lucio Fulci, and Zombie in particular, are not better known. Fulci certainly didn't make films for the squeamish among us but if you can handle gore you won't find it done better than by this man.
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