Monday, October 10, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 10: Phil watches ZOMBIE (1979)-October 10, 2011

Hello folks and welcome back to day ten of my horror movie marathon! After seeing THE DEAD yesterday, I decided to go on a zombie binge. So for tonight I visited the land of Italy, home to some of the most intense, gruesome, gory, and celebrated horror films of all time! If you don't believe, then you have never seen the film ZOMBIE. If you have, then you are one of the brave ones, because this is a very sick and disgusting film. And I love it!!

Original Theatrical Poster (1980)
Directed by infamous Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci, the film begins when what appears to be an abandoned boat is found in the harbor of New York City. Soon the local police units investigates the boat when an undead zombie attacks them and then plunges into the harbor waters below, leaving the living with a big mystery on their hands, which news reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch) smells a story and decides to go investigate. Soon Peter teams up with Anne Bowels (Tisa Farrow), the daughter of a scientist said to have gone missing in the Caribbean some time ago. Together they dive deeper into the mystery, meeting and traveling with another couple (Al Cliver and Auretta Gay) to a remote region of the Antilles Islands. There they hope to discover the answers, however for them, they only thing they will find is desolate place where the dead walk once again to feed on all that still live.

Sounds like a very intriguing film indeed, but the backstory of the film is even more fascinating. In 1977, American filmmaker George Romero teamed up with Italian filmmaker Dario Argento, who would help with the financing to make DAWN OF THE DEAD. In exchange Argento would distribute the film in Europe, where it was retitled as ZOMBI. Director Fulci decided to capitalize on the film's success by making his own gore-infested, living dead film. Thanks to a legal loophole, Fulci was able to slap a sequel number to his film, allowing moviegoers to think that his film was an actual follow up to Romero's film. Unbelievably true, but in the end Fulci's ZOMBI 2 did phenomenal at the European boxoffice. When the film was imported to America, it was retitled ZOMBIE, as to not confuse American audiences.

Original Italian Poster (1979)
The film itself is highly regarded as Fulci's best film ever, and a welcomed entry to the annals of horror. The special effects by F/X wizard Gianetto de Rossi are very impressive, and they still hold up to this very day. When Auretta Gay has her throat torn out is just gore-tastic. The scene when Olga Karlatos' eye is shoved into a large piece wood splinter is just so gruesome and painful to watch that I dare you to not look away. And of course, the film's most famous scene is when a zombie attacks and eats a shark. Yes my friends, that is a REAL person fighting a REAL shark! There is no CGI in this film people! Real sharks, real special effects, and real gore drenched the screen as it has never before. The Italians very much celebrated gore and violence, and in the process, made it into an art form that has influenced several big name horror directors. From Sam Raimi and Sean Cunningham to Eli Roth and James Wan, the Italian horror films from the late 70's to the mid 80's had a huge impact here in America. Films like SAW and HOSTEL owe a debt to the theses Italian shockers, especially with this film. The film was released in Italy on August 25, 1979. It was imported and released to theaters here in America on July 18, 1980.

ZOMBIE is one of the all-time greatest zombie films ever made! For it's shock value and sheer madness, no other zombie film can compare to nor come close to it. With this film, director Fulci was given the mantle "The Maestro of Gore." It is without hesitation to say that, after its initial release 32 years later, it is a title that no one has come close to achieving. When Luci passed away on March 13, 1996 at the age of 68, the world mourned the loss of a true artist. But in the end, Lucio Fulci continues to live on his films, which are not only his legacy, but a gift to us to enjoy over and over again. So Mr. Fulci, where ever you are, I just wanted to say, "Thank you."

ZOMBIE will be released on Blu- Ray and DVD special editions courtesy of Blue Underground on October 25, 2011. To pre-order your copy, visit their website at To those of you who would like to see the film on the big screen, Blue Underground will be having the film released to select theaters this Halloween! For those in San Francisco, the film will be playing at the Roxie Theater on October 29-31! Buy your tickets on their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!


  1. I really do need to see this, it's on my extensively long list of Italian Horror films I have not seen. Demons is on that too...

    Anyways really good review, it definitely intrigued me to watch it! And I did not know that the first Zombie was a Argento/Romero team?! Nor did I know such a team existed. Is it any good?

  2. In the early 70's Romero and his producer Richard P. Rubinstein were having difficulty with raising finances from any domestic investors to help fund their project. Word of this dilemma reached Dario Argento, who was a huge fan of Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Argento met with Romero and Rubinstein and he agreed to helping them secure financing in exchange for international distribution rights. Argento invited Romero to Rome so he would have a change of scenery while he wrote the screenplay for DAWN OF THE DEAD. The two became good friends, even discussing plot elements for the film. The European version of DAWN OF THE DEAD (called ZOMBI) is quite different: it was edited by Argento and contains numerous scene extensions, and skips over scenes from the American version of the film. Also ZOMBI contains additional music from composer Goblin, who provided soundtracks to several of Argento's films, including SUSPIRIA and INFERNO. ZOMBi runs at 118 minutes while DAWN runs at 127 minutes. It is interesting to compare the two films together, but I prefer DAWN because I grew up with the film.

  3. Ohh it's Dawn of the Dead, I honestly did not know that they called it Zombi in Europe, nor did I pay enough attention during the credits to catch Argento's name. I'll need to re-watch it now for sure. Thanks.