In time for Halloween, the E Street Cinema will be screening the cult horror film, Zombie (1979) for Midnight Madness. The film is playing two nights on October 21 and 22 and is perhaps being shown in anticipation of the Blu-Ray release of the movie, slated for October 24.
The film Zombie has known many names. Whether Zombi 2, Zombie Flesh Eaters, Island of the Living Dead, Woodoo or Zombie Island, they’re all the same film. In Italy, the film’s title Zombi 2, was concocted as a way to trick horror patrons into believing they were buying a ticket for the sequel to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978), also called Zombi. Horror fans knew the difference, but enjoyed director Lucio Fulci’s film anyway. Upon its release, it was banned by a few countries and achieved even greater success when the UK’s classification board placed it on their “Video Nasty” list.
The release of Zombie saw a revival of Fulci’s career and past works, cementing him as a horror kingpin. He is known for the extreme amount of gore in his films, and Zombie won’t disappoint those who want a singularly hemoglobin-minded experience. The film has a famous scene involving a woman’s eye being pierced on a wooden point that has become one of horror’s great death scenes. The gore here may be well done, but the film begins to get campy when Fulci shoots his zombies close up. It has an unintended comic effect and interrupts a film that had a decent flow to its pacing.
A myriad of other problems occur in this film that hinder what the director considers one of his best works. Where Romero’s films had real purpose and a message, Fulci’s film is a geekshow of carnage, which would be fine, if there were some other angle to the writing. Nothing in the script makes this film stand out. The characters are all wooden zombie-fodder that are droved out simply to end up as beautifully shot victims as opposed to full-fledged personalities. Such a cast may be de rigueur for B-horror schlock, but Zombie’s production usually rises above most of those conventions. It’s a shame a re-write wasn’t made.
One positive thing that can certainly be said about Zombie, it is uniquely beautiful. It seems that Italian horror directors take special pride in cinematography. From the Bavas to Argento, their films are gorgeously shot with care, a fitting contrast to all the on-screen blood-letting. It is the production of Fulci’s films that make them stand out, not always the execution of the material.
Despite its flaws, Zombie deserves to be seen. It is not a good film, but to know it is to love it. It may be close to exploitation horror, but there is an indescribable charm to it that makes it watchable. Those who love zombies or Italian horror would be remiss to skip out on this latest theatrical screening.
Zombie will screen for Midnight Madness at E Street Cinema on October 21 and 22. The film is also available on DVD and will soon be available on Blu-Ray disc. All screenings are, of course, at midnight. You can check out the rest of E Street Cinema’s showtimes here.