Saturday, February 9, 2019

Phil’s Horror Watch: ZOMBIE (1979) from Blue Underground - February 7, 2019

ZOMBIE Limited Edition "Bridge" Slipcover Blu-Ray
ZOMBIE (aka ZOMBI 2) (1979)
Starring Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver, Auretta Gay, Stefania D'Amario, Olga Karlatos
Written by Elisa Briganti, Dardano Sacchetti (uncredited)
Cinematography by Sergio Salvati
Edited by Vincenzo Tomassi
Produced by Fabrizio De Angelis, Ugo Tucci, Gianfranco Couyoumdjian
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Originally released by The Jerry Gross Organization (USA), Variety Film (Italy)
Released by Blue Unnderground

For today's installment of Phil's Horror Watch, I visited the land of Italy, home to some of the most intense, gruesome, gory, and celebrated horror films of all time! What made me want to visit this far and away land? I have two words for you: Lucio Fulcio! You see, late last year Blue Underground re-released one of his greatest films of all time, in a brand new, 3-Disc, 4K restoration! And, it came with not one, not two, but three different lenticular slipcovers! Granted, the film itself is enough to make any horror hound happy! If you don't believe me, then you have never seen the film ZOMBIE, especially in high definition!!

The film's official synopsis: In Italy, it was considered the ‘unofficial sequel’ to DAWN OF THE DEAD. In England, it was known as ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS and banned as obscene. In America, it was called ZOMBIE and advertised with the depraved tag line “WE ARE GOING TO EAT YOU!” Tisa Farrow (THE GRIM REAPER), Ian McCulloch (CONTAMINATION), Al Cliver (CANNIBALS), and Richard Johnson (THE HAUNTING) star in this worldwide splatter sensation directed by ‘Maestro Of Gore’ Lucio Fulci (CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY) that remains one of the most eye-skewering, skin-ripping, gore-gushingly graphic horror hits of all time!

Original Theatrical Poster (1980)
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.

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. The film was released in Italy on August 25, 1979. It was imported and released to theaters here in America on July 18, 1980.

The movie has been released for the home video market in several different formats over the years by several distributors. In the 1980's and early 1990's, it was distributed by video companies like Wizard Video, Magnum Entertainment, and T-Z Video here in the states, while in the UK, it was part of the "Video Nasties" and was banned their for a time. By the late 90's, companies like Anchor Bay Entertainment, Shriek Show, and Blu Underground had released the film on DVD and Blu-Ray. In 2011, Blue Underground had restored Lucio's classic in a 2K restoration, and released it back to select theaters across the country (this lucky guy saw it at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco in October of that same year). Then in 2018, while being very quite for most of the year, they announced that they were once again restoring the film, this time in a new 4K scan in time for its 40th anniversary!!

Original Italian Theatrical Poster (1979)
This new Blu-ray release Blue Underground looks absolutely fucking amazing!! Holy shit! I have never seen the movie look this sharp, clear, fucking gorgeous before!! Their brand-new 4K Restoration from the uncensored original camera negative looks insanely flawless!! This limited collector’s edition includes 1080p Feature on Blu-ray, bonus High Def Extras Blu-ray, Soundtrack CD, collectible booklet, reversible sleeve with original US poster artwork, a collectable booklet with a new essay by Author Stephen Thrower, and three different special 3D lenticular slipcovers (for its First Pressing only)!!

Blue Underground also loaded this 3-Disc set with a ungodly amount of amazing special features! So what I'm doing is just copying what is on all three discs, just to make it easier on myself as to not leave anything off. On Disc One there's a new Audio Commentary #1 with Troy Howarth, Author of "Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films", a second audio commentary with Star Ian McCulloch and Diabolik Magazine Editor Jason J. Slater, When The Earth Spits Out The Dead - Interview with Stephen Thrower, Author of "Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci", theatrical trailers, TV and radio spots, poster & still gallery, and a cool intro by Guillermo del Toro. Disc Two has all the special features: Zombie Wasteland - Interviews with Stars Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson & Al Cliver, and Actor/Stuntman Ottaviano Dell'Acqua, Flesh Eaters on Film - Interview with Co-Producer Fabrizio De Angelis, Deadtime Stories - Interviews with Co-Writers Elisa Briganti and (Uncredited) Dardano Sacchetti, World of the Dead - Interviews with Cinematographer Sergio Salvati and Production & Costume Designer Walter Patriarca, Zombi Italiano - Interviews with Special Make-Up Effects Artists Gianetto De Rossi & Maurizio Trani and Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi, Notes on a Headstone - Interview with Composer Fabio Frizzi, All in the Family - Interview with Antonella Fulci, Zombie Lover - Award-Winning Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro talks about one of his favorite films . Disc Three is the aforementioned CD soundtrack by the great Fabio Frizzi!

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 40 years later, it is a title that no one has come close to achieving. Years after his passing, he continues to live on in his films, which are not only his legacy, but a gift to us to enjoy over and over again! And thanks to Blue Underground, we can have this new 4K restoration to watch over and over again! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly Recommended!! 

ZOMBIE is available in a 3-Dics Limited Edition with three different lenticular slipcovers (or purchase all as a bundle for a limited time) from Blue Underground. To order your copy, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the screaming

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