It actually doesn't matter which title you know this movie by, Zombie Flesh Eaters, Zombie, Zombi 2, Island of the Living Dead, Woodoo, the list is probably endless. The film however is instantly recognisable as the greatest Italian zombie classic ever put to celluloid and is widely regarded by many fans as Lucio Fulci's finest hour.
So, what exactly is it that makes this film stand out from countless other releases which all flooded the market when Italian zombie movies were cool?
Filmed on location in the late seventies and starring then popular British actor Ian McCulloch of Terry Nation's post apocalyptic series Survivors, the film has a great deal to like. Scripting is tight and suspenseful providing a genuinely disturbing atmospheric setting which is further enhanced by the now classic soundtrack. What really sets this film apart however are the make up and special effects which have yet to be bettered in the zombie genre over 30 years later. Whether it's the army of decaying zombies slowly rising from the ancient cemetery, or the numerous sequences of outrageous violence and gore, the special effects have ultimately helped to keep this film at the top of most zombie collectors wants lists for over 3 decades.
Presented region free by Blue Underground, this new Blu-ray release is advertised as having undergone extensive remastering from the original negatives in a brand new 2K HD scan and the end result is certain be pleasing to fans of the film. Presented in a 1080p 2.35:1 transfer, detail is sharp with strong colour representation. Background images are especially enhanced particularly towards the final act of the movie and undoubtedly the more familiar you are with the film, the more detail you will suddenly notice popping up on-screen like never before. With a decent amount of depth also present in black levels, it goes without saying that this movie has never looked as good as it does in its current presentation.
Audio is presented with English DTS-HD 7.1 and Italian DTS-HD 7.1 options. Dialogue appears fresh and clear and the now famous score powers through your speakers providing an enriched atmosphere which will really draw you into the movie. Whether it is the sound of the ever nearing voodoo drums or the final shoot-out in the run down hospital, the audio track here provides a level of depth previously unheard.
Extras begin with a recycled DVD commentary with star Ian McCulloch who actually has some interesting things to say about his experience in making the film, however it is a shame that Blue Underground didn't invest in a new commentary track as McCulloch has attended a number of film conventions since the original was recorded and would probably have much new information and anecdotes to offer. Following the commentary there are a number of different interview segments all running at between ten and twenty two minutes which feature many members of both cast and crew. Some of the interviews are inter-cut with convention footage of the actors signing posters and artwork for the many waiting fans whilst attending a Q&A session and there are also interviews with the composer who discusses his now legendary score and Lucio Fulci's daughter Antonella. Rounding off the extras package are the usual trailers and TV spots and an extensive picture gallery featuring some classic bloody artwork from around the globe and a handful of rare behind the scenes stills.
All things considered the film is a must own title for zombie collectors everywhere and the improvements in transfer and audio alone instantly justifies a purchase of this Blu-ray release. The film itself has quite simply never looked or sounded better and for a movie which oozes atmosphere, this new presentation will put you right back into the advancing zombie infestation like never before.
This really is one horror classic that richly deserves to be seen in all it's outrageous bloodthirsty crumbling zombie nastiness... oh and if you think you seen the film before...
You ain't seen nothing yet!
BLU REVIEW OBSCURA - reviewing the less mainstream Blu-ray releases - Find us on Facebook or at blureviewobscura.yolasite.comRead more ›
In case you are not aware, Zombie Flesh Eaters on Blu-Ray has also fallen to a manufacturing error, just another of the many that have occurred in past 12 months (Harry Potter, David Lynch, Cabin In The Woods, House By The Cemetery). A seamless branching error caused 6 seconds of an establishing shot of a boat entering the harbour after the credits to be missing. If you want a replacement disc, follow the instructions on Arrow's website below but you should act before 31 March 2013.
From Arrow's website: [...] Zombie Flesh Eaters Blu-ray Disc Only Cat No: FCD704R
Overview: Zombie Flesh Eaters Blu-ray [Replacement Disc]
To obtain a replacement disc for Zombie Flesh Eaters please send your proof of purchase to email@example.com with details of your return address. The replacement disc will be sent to you as soon as possible. The disc replacement service will be available until 31st March 2013. By entering into this replacement programme it is understood that the customer enters into an agreement with the distributor, Arrow Films. As such, the customer shall not sell on the defective disc and said disc must be destroyed or kept for personal use. It is expressly forbidden that this disc be resold in any capacity.
1. What proof of purchase should I supply? Please scan or photograph a clear image of your receipt or alternatively please send the email confirmation from your retailer as an attachment.
2. I purchased my copy direct from the Arrow site. Do I still need to provide proof of purchase? Yes, please provide your confirmation email quoting your order reference number.
3. I live outside the UK, am I still able to take part in the replacement programme? Yes. Please include proof of purchase as described in item 1.
4. I wasn't aware there was a problem with the disc. What's wrong? A seamless branching error caused 6 seconds of an establishing shot of a boat entering the harbour after the credits to be missing.
5. If I buy a copy of ZFE now will it have the corrected disc inside? Unfortunately we cannot guarantee that stock purchased now will have the corrected disc, though all stock from the Arrow Store has the corrected disc and many discs have been replaced directly in our warehouse which supplies all other retailers.
6. I already sent you my disc, can I get a refund for the postage? Unfortunately we will not be able to refund your postage but as a gesture of goodwill we will be sending you a free copy of the ArrowDrome DVD `The Man With the Severed Head'. There is no need to claim this free DVD it will be sent automatically.Read more ›
Zombie Flesh Eaters (ZFE) was the first of Lucio Fulci's assault on the walking dead splatter genre. It gained notoriety from its visions of extreme gore (most notably the shard of wood through the eyeball sequence), but is actually the weakest of Fulci's dead trilogy (the others being City of the Living Dead and The Beyond - the subsequent House by the Cemetary is something slightly different again). The film was made to cash in on the success of the Romero film Dawn of the Dead, although apart from the flesh eating Zombies it is a considerably different film. Whilst Dawn of the Dead takes place in the heart of a civilisation already at the mercy of the undead, ZFE starts off with a much more isolationist approach but concludes with sequences which could be seen to actually set up Romero's tale. And, unlike Romero, Fulci is interested in his tale only and not on any commentary on society. For many, ZFE became known due to its run-ins with the UK censors (although the full uncut edition of Dawn of the Dead has some fairly graphic moments, these are never as convincing or quite as well staged as those in ZFE). Fulci certainly never lets himself be drawn away from the main theme and it is only for brief moments that the film drags. One sequence which always irritates me for "getting in the way" of the narrative is an underwater fight between a zombie and a shark. It is an original scene in conception and raises an interesting point (i.e. the movement of zombies underwater - they don't need manmade craft afterall - given that they have no need of air this is a not unreasonable idea), but I just find the sequence to be too drawn out to be of any great use - I just want to get to the mayhem on Matoole! Views on the acting vary (I don't have a problem with it), but look beyond this and you will see good fx, good cinematography (the frame is always filled with good visuals, and can even be quite creative - just check out the sequences preceding the famous eyeball scene)and the soundtrack itself features a good score (suitably unnerving electronica, along with trade make Fulci jungle sounds - I could pick out a few good examples, but certainly one of the most effective is the sequence where Ian McCullogh and his team come accross scenes of dissembowlment and zombie feasting at the Doctor's home, the full horror of the close ups is accompanied by a wild funky tune that captures the charged and ridiculous nature of the situation). One other reviewer mentioned that Zombie Holocaust fans would like ZFE; I saw the films the other way around and thought Zombie Holocaust was a very cheap and lame effort. However, it is worth noting that Zombie Holocaust came about as the producers were so pleased with Fulci's ZFE - Fulci did not direct Holocaust, but that didn't stop the use of some of the same locations, cast and fx crew; but if the truth were known I don't think anyone's heart was in this effort. Anyway, back to ZFE - it is a film out of one of my favourity sub-genres, I find the idea of the undead rather frightening - whether they be slow and menacing, or running around (as I gather they do in the Dawn of the Dead remake) - and a film I would most definately recommend to gorehounds. This film does stand out with gore aplenty but also with a quality of interest not found in many other exploitation/splatter films. Just try to make sure you see it in as close to its original form as possible (and as a letterboxed edition, not pan and scanned). And then get ready to sit down and watch the other Fulci films mentioned ... Three stars is perhaps a little generous to this movie, but if nothing else I know how many times I have watched and enjoyed it over the years, so that must mean its pretty good!Read more ›