original title: Zombi 2
aka: Island of the Flesh-Eaters, Island of the Living Dead, Zombie, Zombie 2: The Dead are Among Us, Zombies, Zombies 2
Director: Lucio Fulci
Starring: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver, Auretta Gay
When the earth spits out the dead, they will rise to suck the blood of the living!
An abandoned boat drifts into the harbor of New York. When the coast guards arrive, they get attacked by a rotting zombie. The daughter of the owner of the ship tries to get information to find out what has happened to the ship and her father and it is first when she meets the journalist Peter West that she gets some help on the case.
They travel to the Island of Matul where her father was supposed to have been last seen. Instead of finding a beautiful and peaceful tropical island, they arrive at an island where the dead has risen from their graves again and attacks the living.
After the success of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, plenty of cheaper rip-offs appeared from all over Europe. Italy was one of the countries that had no problem making films inspired by recent American successes and the most known output from the country is this film. Zombie, Zombi 2, Zombie Flesh Eaters, whatever title you know it by. It kickstarted a series of gory films by Lucio Fulci, which put him up there among the most loved genre directors from the great country of Italy.
Zombie Flesh Eaters actually plays like a prequel to Dawn of the Dead. In the opening and final sequence we see what might be assumed to be the start of the zombie invasion in New York, which continues in Dawn of the Dead. It is however just these two sequences that connects this film to the epic Romero film, while the rest is more its own undead entity.
I’m certain that even if it didn’t try to connect itself to the Romero zombie world that it would still be as popular as it is today. It might want to play in the same universe, but the setting here on a topical island and the feel of the film is not anything like the Romero films. There is no social commentary or black humour in this, instead it gives a nasty and violent feel, creating an atmosphere that is more horrific than what you get in Dawn.
Sadly, the acting and characters are all very bland and that does bring the movie down a bit. I’ve also always watched it with an english dub and that’s never a good way to watch a film. However, the special effects are grisly and excellent. The zombies look awesome and is alone worth buying the film for. The gore is incredible and shocking. I still remember how shocked and grossed out I was when I first saw the eyeball scene as a kid, it is just so gruesome in the way that it is set up and executed. All of this are enhanced by the excellent score of Fabio Frizzi, a soundtrack well worth owning.
Zombie Flesh Eaters is a classic within the zombie genre. But even though I love it and could watch it any day, I do recognize that as a movie it has its flaws. There’s hardly any character development and the narration isn’t great, but if you are after a gory zombie film, then there is hardly anything better to pop in than this.