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4.0 out of 5 stars Zombie Holocaust region free Blu ray review, 24 Sep 2012
This review is from: Zombie Holocaust [Blu-ray] [1982] [US Import] (Blu-ray)
Obviously made as a direct response to the phenomenaly successful Zombie Flesh Eaters directed by the infamous Lucio Fulci, Zombie Holocaust shares many things with Fulci's movie including cast members Ian McCulloch and Dakar plus not to mention plagiarized footage to make the viewer believe that this was indeed shot in a far flung tropical paradise when it fact because of budget was phototgraphed in the films native country of Italy. Ok so these are only establishing shots of the jeep driving around the island and binoculars looking over the ocean at distant islands but if you watch these movies back to back you may get a strange sence of deja vu. Like its far more famous predecessor the opening of the movie was shot on location in New York. There was obviously no getting around that one. Compared to Zombie Flesh Eaters(or just plain Zombi depending on your geographical location) this comes across as rush job, shot without any skill or style with far weaker special effects and a rather plodding meandering narrative. The music score is not as memorable with Nico Fidenco's electronic warbling sounding like a verbatim rehash of his previous work on Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals and the film is prone to the Jess Franco style of jungle set movie making(see The Devil Hunter and The Cannibals) with characters just standing around talking despite the fact they have just found one of their guides torn apart by the cannibals.
What makes Zombie Holocaust unique though is that it mixes elements from two of Italys greatest horror exports of the time namely zombies and cannibals which had never been done before. Ok this is far from an original idea and mixing genres was something Italians had been doing for years with numerous slants on the spaghetti western craze and not to mention Joe D'Amato's horror and hardcore movies such as Emanuelle in America. Indeed despite its title there are only a handful of zombies but a whole tribe of cannibals so maybe this should have been called Cannibal Holocaust.......oh sorry somebody had already beaten them to that one. In the US the movie was marketed as more of a mad scientist flick and was re-titled Dr.Butcher MD.
Ok so i may have sounded quite negative about Zombie Holocaust and at times is does deserve it but despite this i still find this strangely entertaining. The unconvincing gore is plentiful and often repugnant the few zombies we see definatly have an eerie quality and Alexandra Deli Colli(who was later to star in Fulci's savage urban giallo The New York Ripper) certainly looks the part especially in the Ursula Andress in Mountain of the Cannibal God style sacrificial scene in the finalé of the film. McCulloch basicly plays the same disgruntled character again only this time in a snazzy safari suit and Italian movie veteran Donald O'Brian(Run Man Run) fills the shoes of the mad doctor responsible for the zombie invasion well enough if obviously not as flamboyant and theatrical as Richard Johnson in Zombi.
Now this is a film i would never have expected to see on a shiny Blu ray disk but it does seem that Shriek Show are slowly releasing their back catalogue in HD with Joe D'Amato's Buio Omega and fellow Italian zombie flick Burial Ground also getting the 1080p treatment. These may not have classy packaging or upgraded audio and visuals of Blue Underground or Severin but are certainly of interest to fans of Italian exploitation films.
Shriek Show have made it easy to compare this Blu ray to SD DVD by putting this out as a double play release with both formats in the same box. I wasent expecting Zombie Holocausts transition to 1080p to be a good one so i was suprised to find that this was well worth the upgrade. The image looked far more solid compared to the DVD. Detail was mostly ok with the higher resolution bringing out close ups of faces, clothes and the all important grue to greater effect even highlighting how bad the effects are in certain scenes such as the autopsy with a scalpel cutting through what looks like a sheet of carpet underlay. The outdoor scenes in New York look appropriately dirty and grimey but do show a little depth with background details, neon lights, vehicals and distant pedestrians all far more visible than on the DVD. The scenes in Del Colli's apartment look improved also with the various ethnic nicknacks and 70s decor not to mention the shocking matching wallpaper and duvet combo. The same applies to the island scenes with the trees and foliage looking far more realistic and defined. Colours are better on the Blu ray especially for the bright reds of the gore. Often though the colour pallette leans towards yellow especially skys that should come across as grays or blue. Compared to the DVD contrast looks alot darker especially during the the opening hand amputating scene making it difficult at times to make out details but in complete contrast(no pun intended) the campfire island set segments look wonderful with deep if slightly crushed blacks and good shadow detail which also extend to the films finalé around the old hospital with accurate rendering of the wood it is constructed from. As to be expected grain is present. Occasionally this looks frozen but is mostly ok and gives the look of the movie a fairly filmic feel and the print appears to be in good enough shape with nothing in the way of distracting print damage. There is some softness in the image which fluctuates from scene to scene but of which was probably inherent in the original photography. Ok so this is never going to look amazing in HD mainly due to low budget, probably poor film stock used and the fact that unlike its much better known predecessor will never get a mega buck remastering and clean up job. But it does have an amazingly high bitrate(30mbps+) and most likely looks as good as it ever will for home consumption making it a worthy upgrade for fans.
On the audio front Shriek Show have kept things simple by leaving the soundtrack in plain original mono which they have presented surprisingly in lossless DTS-HD Master 2.0. This is a nice inclusion but even this cant help this extremely rough sounding dubbed soundtrack. Dialogue sounds clear enough if abit clipped and certain character voices are accompanied by an audiable hiss. Effects from the smashing of glass through to the Spaghetti Western style cracks of guns lack power and precision and the whole thing sounds flat and uninvolving. Fidenco's score also lacks any puch and low end is pretty much non existent. As to be expected from an Italian expolitation movie the lip sync issues remain but fans who have seen countless movies like this know what to expect so this will only be a problem for newcomers. Overall this DTS Mono track gets the job done and i doubt with how some of the elements sound a remixed 5.1 track could have been justified or needed.
Extras are the same as on the SD DVD. Of course an audio commentary with Ian McCulloch like on the Flesh Eaters disks would have been worthy but i doubt he would want to remember this one. What you do get are scenes from the US theatrical version as Dr.Butcher M.D, a stills and poster gallery, trailers and a completely worthless interview with the FX artist Maurizio Trani who confesses that he has never seen the movie and can hardly recall a thing about its production.
To conclude this is definaly worth a look for fans who may own one of the various DVD releases and yes visually this Blu ray is an improvement especially if you own the dreadful UK DVD.
Please note that despite the packaging saying region A this is infact region free and playable on all machines worldwide. The DVD also housed in the same packaging remains region 1.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Nov 2013 08:05:02 GMT
hi there is this blu ray definitely region free mate?

Posted on 3 Jan 2014 15:47:11 GMT
Yes definatly. I have played this on my region b only player and it is fine. All the.Shriek Show Blu rays say region a on the packaging but they are all region free. I have tried Zombie Holocaust, Burial Ground and Beyond The Darkness.
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