Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979) [Review]

 

Oh boy, I cannot shove enough sunshine up this movies ass.
Zombie Flesh Eaters ticks all the boxes when it comes to the exploitation horror genre:
Chillingly awesome Italian composed music? Check.
The hilariously bad voice acting? Double Check.
Outstanding Zombie make-up effects? Check.
Lucio Fulci directing? Check.
Shark Vs Zombie? Check.

-How I discovered it

I first watched Zombie Flesh Eaters at the peak of my love for Zombie movies, I just got internet access for the first time and was itching to find anything similar to George A Romero’s masterpiece sequel to Night Of The Living Dead, “Dawn Of The Dead”.
Luckily enough I came across a YouTube video showing one of the iconic scenes of the movie when we see the famous Zombie (who appears on various different posters and releases of the film) rising from the earth with amazing detail such as worms in his eyes. He slowly rises, towering above as his victim a near lifeless mannequin lookalike of a woman who stares in a stone cold state as he rips open her throat with one bite. When I first saw that scene I could only assume that it was the highlight of the film but I couldn’t have been more wrong as this is one of many fantastically done gory scenes.
I tracked down a copy and my first viewing was a thrill ride that I happen to remember in surprisingly high detail as this film made an impact on my at the time 12-year-old mind. I remember watching it in multiple parts between my school lunch breaks at home and after school being so dragged into the film and couldn’t wait to see what happens next.

-Plot

The film opens with a man holding a revolver and blowing the brains out of what we can only assume is a Zombie wrapped in sheets and the line “the boat can leave now, tell the crew”. Queue the awesome theme composed by Fabio Frizzi and title card.
The basic plot involves around a what appears to be an abandoned sailboat that drifts into the New York harbor two officers investigate, a Zombie appears and attacks and kills one of the officers and the other one shoots him. The police question the boat owner’s daughter, Anne, who then meets a journalist Peter West. They decide to follow her father’s trail in the Caribbean along with a couple, Susan and Brian, who agree to take them to the island.
Meanwhile, on the Island, a Doctor is conducting blood tests and analysis on why the local people are dying and subsequently turning into flesh eating Zombies.
Back on the boat, Susan decides to go scuba diving and is attacked by a Zombie but she escapes and we are then treated to a truly fantastic duel.
Zombie Vs Tiger Shark which I strongly advise checking out!
The tiger shark is real and the stunt was performed in a salt water tank. Supposedly the stunt man couldn’t show up that day and the sharks trainer, Ramon Bravo performed it instead.
The Doctor of the island has a wife who strongly wants to leave the island; however, one night while she’s taking a shower ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) … a Zombie enters the building and tries entering the door. She barricades the door, but the Zombie breaks through the door with his arm and grabs her by the hair; in doing so, pulling her towards a big bastard of a splinter. The viewer quickly understands what is about happen, but the scene seems to go on forever as he slowly pulls her to it and no, it doesn’t fade to black: it leaves the idea to your imagination to find out what happens. You see everything as the splinter punctures her eyeball and she screams in extreme pain. It’s one of the most effective gory scenes I’ve seen in a horror movie as you can almost feel her pain.

     

The Feast & The Climax  

Funny enough for me, the eyeball splinter scene is not the most effective scene as my weakness lies in more of … let’s say … the abdomen area of gore. The scene involving four crew members now ashore, who are acquainted with the doctor, are sent to find his wife. They pull up to her house and uncover a very graphic Zombie feast! It’s truly revolting but a big treat to the gore fan!

 

My favorite scene in the whole movie has always been the climax. Reduced to three, the team end up in the barn/hospital and have a classic shootout with a horde of zombies. It’s more of a compilation of minor details that makes me love it; for instance, the gun effects are classic 70s/80s gun sounds used in various movies: they throw Molotov cocktails all around in an attempt to protect themselves from the incoming horde of Zombies and just shoot, shoot and shoot! To top it off, there’s that fantastic theme song of the movie, it’s so awesome!

Zombie Flesh Eaters, AKA..

The film goes under various different titles. In Europe (not including the UK, and other countries), Dawn Of The Dead goes under the name Zombie. Now, with Zombie Flesh Eaters in Europe, they released it as Zombi 2 in order to feed off the success of Dawn Of The Dead, but it isn’t a sequel to it. Now in the UK, they named the film Zombie Flesh Eaters instead to avoid confusion. Now In America, they called it Zombie, but when Fulci returned to shoot a sequel to it, which was called Zombi 3, they kept the titles, confusing for people in US as the timeline seems to skip a film but it’s not the case.
The other titles are: Sanguella, Woodoo, L’enfer Des Zombies, The Island of the Living Dead, Zombie Flesh Eaters, Zombie, Zombie The Dead Walk Among Us, Gli Ultimi Zombi, Zombie 2: The Dead Are Among Us and Nightmare Island.
Sure is confusing, huh?

Overall, I can’t recommend this movie enough. It’s simple: if you’re a fan of horror movies, this film has to be on the list beside the greats.