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Zombie Flesheaters

by on Mar.03, 2010, under Daily Review

Hot on the heels of the Argento/Romero Zombie masterpiece which was ‘Zombie: Dawn of the Dead, Fulci makes a claim for the horror throne with this, the first of his Zombie quinology. But this is a very different film to what was happening is Pittsburgh. Fulci’s film is mostly set on a dusty exotic island, maybe set pre-Romero with an interesting introduction to where this plague originated.

The film starts with a yacht drifting towards Manhattan, floating past the Staten Island ferry. After checking it over, the coast guard find a hungry bloated rotting corpse, eager for a snack. And so it begins: The first infection to reach the USA. Meanwhile, a journalist, Peter (Ian McCulloch) teams up with Anne (Tisa Farrow) in search of her father, Dr Menard working out on a remote tropical island. On arrival, they discover all is not as it seems in this beautiful place with news of Dr Menard desperately in search for a cure to an epidemic, sweeping the island causing the dead to return from the grave.

Fulci’s zombies are outstanding creations and a huge improvement of Dawn’s blue faced flesh fiends. Here, they look like they’ve been rotting for some time. During a fight scene, one zombie has his leg scratched and the flesh just peals away. There’s a great bite to the neck which gets the blood flowing and then there is the stunning scene with a splinter of wood impaling a woman’s eye then snapping off, ripping the eyeball out. It’s an incredible effect, care of Giannetto De Rossi which really works well, looks great and has the audience squirming. The effect is also emphasised by the brilliance of editing and strong cinematography, shot beautifully, it makes watching uneasy, as it looks so go, but subject matter makes you want to look away.

What else? A shark fight with a zombie, yes, underwater. You don’t get to see this sort of thing every day. It’s impressive.

The acting is good, as expected from Farrow, McCulloch and Al Cliver, but the direction is mostly off target with long sequences of the film having characters bumbling about the island doing unrealistic things whilst being chased by shambling corpses and it’s a shame, as this could have been the zombie film of reference.

The soundtrack is also quite something else. Long time Fulci contributor, composer, Fabio Frizzi once again creates an amazing atmospheric score, using all sorts of cunning electronic tricks.

This is Fulci’s legacy. It’s a great film, a great zombie film, but it’s not his best in my opinion. It’s the full article really as an answer, or re-poste to Dawn and it carries with it a history and reputation, which precedes it. Ground breaking in it’s day, with incredible gore which still stands up against today’s offerings, but be prepared for a film with some issues with pace and script.

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