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on 6 March 2012
Zombie

Distributor: Blue Underground (US)

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.com
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on 14 April 2015
An unmanned boat cruising into New York is discovered to be carrying a zombie who attacks an officer checking the boat, meanwhile the daughter of the boats owner and a journalist head to a tropical island to check on her father, to there horror they find hoards of the undead attacking everyone and everything in there path.

One of the very best Zombie films ever! The film that brought Lucio Fulci to an international audience is also one of his very best. Unlike Fulci the plot is actually fairly coherent, in fact the plot is a strength of the picture, it has pace always something interesting happening and the open ended finale is excellent. The zombie make-up is brilliant as are the bloody gory effects by De Rossi, acting by the cast is also much better than expected, leads Farrow & McCulloch are really good but the whole cast does a good job. Some of the set pieces are outstanding, the underwater shark scene is one of the most iconic in horror film history it's that impressive, the splinter in the eye, the unstoppable zombie attack at the end etc.. in fact there are many great sequences in the film far too many to list here. The atmosphere of the film is great, there are some genuinely scary moments including the opening scene in N.Y. where a zombie bursts out of the closet but there are many more, the creepy tension and suspense are maintained throughout and in this as in many other ways Fulci does an impressive job.

An infamous video nasty but also one of the top 3 very best, one for every not just nasty collector but every horror film fan.
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on 7 December 2012
Zombie Flesh Eaters: Steelbook

Distributor: Arrow Video (UK)

So, how do you improve on perfection?

Well almost nine months ago we reviewed the most impressive release to date of Lucio Fulci's epic zombie masterpiece courtesy of US distributor Blue Underground.

The undisputed title of "best release ever" of the classic Italian gore fest looked set to remain unbroken with the disc boasting a fully remastered 2K transfer delighting long time fans of the film and making it highly doubtful whether the release could ever be bettered.

Things however move pretty quickly in the home video market as of late and with a little hindsight the US Blu-ray does come with some minor issues which have since risen to the surface. A number of collectors had been slightly put out by the use of DNR during a handful of sequences and there were also concerns over the amount of actual re-watchable content within the extra features, however all things considered the release itself still continues to hold up to its well deserved praise.

So taking into account the overall high quality presentation of the former release, UK distributor Arrow Video would certainly have a real task on their hands if they wished to challenge the Blue Underground disc to the title of best presentation to date.

So in the high definition battle of Zombie vs Zombie Flesh Eaters which is better?

Well to borrow a rather obvious catchphrase it seems there is only one way to find out...... FIGHT!!!

It's no secret that Blue Underground produced a brand new 2K scan from the original negatives for their US transfer which even on reflection looks highly impressive. Arrow Video however have come back with their very own 2K scan overseen by James White who instantly comes with a decent reputation for delivering the goods as far as restoration is concerned. Arrow's print has undergone much repair and removal of dirt and scratches however where the US release had some very minor issues with the dreaded DNR, the Arrow release thankfully forgoes this treatment entirely, presenting a rich and exceptionally detailed image with far superior colour representation than the US print. The new 1080p transfer really has to be seen to be believed and will no doubt leave fans of the film revelling in the pristine 2.35:1 presentation, although on first viewing you are equally as likely to spend most of the films running time picking up on background imagery which until now has passed by unseen.

ROUND 1 Arrow!

Audio is presented on the Blue Underground release with a 5.1 mix which can easily be considered faultless, especially considering the low budget origins of the film. Atmosphere is absorbing with the classic score powering through your home cinema system like never before. The new Arrow disc takes a slightly different approach however, presenting the film in Dolby Digital English and Italian 2.0. Whilst the audio tracks are completely free from distortion with both dialogue and sound effects appearing clear and well defined, for complete atmospheric immersion into the proceedings the US 5.1 mix will probably draw you in closer to the action.

ROUND 2 Blue Underground!

The final round comes down to extra features which are pretty decent on both releases although the Blue Underground disc mainly comprises of a recycled commentary track and various interview snippets which although appear somewhat engrossing do not really warrant a second viewing. In comparison Arrows new Blu-ray release begins with a short introduction to the film by leading actor Ian McCulloch then offers two brand new exclusive commentaries, the first being with Fulci biographer Stephen Thrower and horror critic Alan Jones and the second being with original screenwriter Elisa Brigante. Following the informative yak tracks is a 42 minute interview again with Ian McCulloch who now talks in depth about all three of his Italian horror outings. "The Rise and Fall of the Italian Zombie Film" which follows the interview footage comprises of reflections on the genre by a host of writers, directors critics etc.. which are far too numerous to list here and clocks in at around 60 minutes. Further extra features include interviews with Gino De Rossi who discusses his most famous special effects from the classic horror genre plus composer Fabio Frizzi and Dardano Sachetti who discusses his original screenplay for the film. Rounding off the already impressive extras package is a collectors booklet featuring a further interview with star Olga Karlatos, a comprehensive essay on the film by Stephen Thrower and a written history of "Zombie Flesh Eaters and the BBFC" which will no doubt prove essential reading for long time video nasty collectors. A final recent addition to the package comes in the form of an option to view the film with a choice of the original US, Italian and UK opening titles which again make a nice tweak for purists. Certainly one of the most extensive extras packages to date from the distributor and you really get the feeling that they threw everything including the kitchen sink at this release.

FINAL ROUND Arrow Video!

So it may seem almost impossible but Arrow Video really have outdone themselves with this stellar release and with a 2 to 1 round victory over the US competitor it really goes without saying that the new Arrow Blu-ray really is the ultimate edition of the movie. Although double dipping on titles certainly appears to be moving slightly out of fashion these days, this is one instance where you really should succumb to temptation as the improvements in the transfer and extras alone easily justifies a further purchase.

To add one final incentive to buyers who may perhaps remain undecided on whether or not to make a purchase, the Arrow release also comes with a variety of alternative packaging options which are mainly accompanied with a double sided poster of the original US and UK cinema artwork. The options presented here include a steelbook edition featuring some exclusive artwork, a limited edition four panel slipcase release and a regular Blu-ray edition albeit minus the poster.

All things considered this really is a no brainer for zombie fans everywhere. Arrow Video have made their Blu-ray the must own edition of the film and it is hopeful that this trend will continue with their future releases allowing them to move from the company people seem to love to hate to a well respected distributor which really has something to offer genre fans.

One final note worth mentioning is that the Arrow release is unfortunately locked to region B so US buyers will require multi region capability to be able to appreciate this release.

So If you should find yourself in the mood to revisit an all time classic in its undisputed best ever presentation, kick back, relax and prepare to experience some true Fulci nastiness at it's very best, after all as far as Italian zombie movies are concerned, this really is where it all started.

BLU REVIEW OBSCURA - for Blu-ray reviews of lesser mainstream movies find us at blureviewobscura.yolasite.com and join the
discussion at our exclusive Facebook group.

UPDATE

It has since come to light that due to having the option of 3 opening titles, approx 6 seconds of footage has been lost from the opening shot of the film where the boat sails into frame. This has come as a huge disappointment to collectors and it is currently unknown whether Arrow will set up a replacement program.
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VINE VOICEon 10 October 2004
I've been after renting this film for some time, as it's widely regarded as a classic Italian zombie film, but reports that it is trash and bad put me off buying it. However, I managed to find it for a decent price and bought it straight away. An initial word of warning: do not associate this with Zombie Flesh Eaters 2, which isn't part of the same series, and is easily the worst film I've ever seen.
Having watched it, the film seems very different to how people have described it. Rather than a gore-obsessed exploitation film, it's more like a straight-forward adventure/horror flick, with some nasty moments. The film doesn't actually feature the titular zombies for much of the film, as the plot and characters are set up. The acting is actually quite good, obviously not of a million dollar salary standard, but well up on the usual standard of this type of film. There are a couple of exceptions, notably the two police from the opening, and the doctor's wife, who is mercifully killed off before she has time to over-act for long.
There are obvious comparisons to be made with Romero's films (which are far superior), in particular Dawn of the Dead, as this film was made as an unofficial prequel to that film (despite it itself being a sequel to Night of the Living Dead). Lucio Fulci isn't as smart a director as George Romero, and there is none of the symbolism, social commentaries or dark humour Romero displays. However, Fulci is a better "horror" director, managing to create some tension and jumps, rather than Romero's air of constant disturbing feeling that never really rises. Fulci also manages some visual flair, particularly during the gore scenes, while Romero just let the camera linger on the scenes, Fulci plays them with tight editing to increase the effect.
Of course, a large percentage of the people reading this review aren't looking for shocks, but gore. The version of the film I have isn't the Vipco "extreme" one, but the version Amazon are now selling, which has no details of how cut it is, so it's quite possible my copy is edited by the BBFC. In either case, it really isn't as gory as has been hinted to by many sources. The famous scene here is the splinter/eyeball scene, and it isn't "gory", not in a blood splattering way. However, it is a supremely nasty sequence, and Fulci plays it out for maximum effect, making you cringe when it finally happens. The other gore moments vary- there are a fair few exploding heads, and a few zombie brains get punished by some blunt instruments. There is only one really gruesome scene in my copy, and you'll know which one when you see it. In terms of comparisons, the gore is roughly level with Romero's Dawn of the Dead, but nowhere near as frequent.
A couple of elements of this film really impressed me. The shark/zombie battle underwater is amazing, if only because you wonder how the hell they pulled it off. It's a real live shark, and a pretty big one too, and how the actor who played the zombie didn't drown is beyond me. The other aspect is the zombie SFX. They're quite simply incredible, far better than Romero's early zombies (some of the ones in Day of the Dead are on an equal level though). The zombies look very dead and decomposing, and extremely convincing. In particular, the zombie that wakes from the jungle grave is incredible, and genuinely scary.
On a closing note, this is quite a different film to the more famous zombie films. It's not the gore fest most people make it out to be, but a low budget action movie with a liberal dose of splatter. The zombies don't really get enough screen time, and you wish Fulci had followed on from the ending with a bigger budget. The music is extremely annoying 70s pre-MIDI synth nonsense, although the tribal drumming is quite atmospheric. If you can live with all this, then there's a good flick to be enjoyed here.
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on 7 January 2012
Let's get straight on to the Blu Ray review. This US disc is region free the 1080p picture was taken from a newlly re-mastered 2k print and looks great although their was sign of print damage in the middle of the movie nothing too intrusive. The film is uncut according to the back cover.

This is a 2 disc set with a disc of special features. The special features included are mostly interviews and Guilerno del toro intro.

Soundwise the disc has a dts hd 7.1 audio.

This disc is worth purchasing to see the shark vs zombie scene in HD one of the best zombie films of the late 70's era definately worth a blu ray upgrade over dvd releases.

Update arrow video in the UK are releasing a standard blu ray and a steelbook version on the 26th of november titled Zombie flesh eaters the reviews on the uk disc are good and people are saying the UK transfer is better but be warned arrow have messed up and their is 6 seconds missing from the new blu ray.
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on 28 June 2016
Zombie Flesh Eaters, Arrow BD release:
My last couple of reviews of European horrors (Zombi Holocaust and Deep Red) were not positive and I found the films disappointing. It is annoying to find all so often the picture quality fails to live up to the claims about so-called 'restorations' from original negatives. So then, it is a pleasure to be able to write a positive review here for this superior Italian horror film and BD release.

First off, the picture quality on the BD presentation is satisfyingly clear and sharp doing good justice to the cameraman's impressive photography. The BD sleeve's claim "brand new high definition restoration from the original negative" is fully justified here - WELL DONE Arrow!

I would be being less than honest if I said the screenplay and plot were particularly complex or meaningful. Yet it is certainly above average for the genre, and it is to the Director's credit that he manages to pull off no easy task in sustaining the film's interest by deft direction, well-framed and lush photography of the tropical island and seascape (fully realised by the original 2.35:1 aspect), and the dependable acting of the principal cast boasting Richard Johnson as the doctor and Ian McCulloch. Some moments of genuine suspense generated by the taught editing, tight framing and camera angles and use of sound (including silence) on the boat on New York Harbour were well crafted; one was left wondering whether a zombie was about to leap out at the visitors on the boat at any moment.

The highlight of the film has to be the well-shot underwater sequence in which some naked scuba divers meet up with a zombie and a great white shark. To see a zombie grappling with a real great white and trying to bite its neck was incredible! The actor must have had a hidden oxygen supply underneath his prosthetics but it never showed. However it was executed, it was convincing. My only baulk was that the female scuba divers were only half naked. I can't understand how the Director managed to arrange crew insurance cover for this sequence.

Gore was satisfyingly abundant and realistic as one would hope for in such a film, the only exception being the scene in which a zombie pulls a girl towards a piece of sharp wood (I won't say which part of her body as that would spoil the scene). The tension was there but alas the prosthetics didn't do the scene justice and looked fake.

I am giving this film four stars because of the mind blowingly impressive zombie/great white sequence and as a mark of respect to Arrow for clearly spending a lot of love and attention on this release. The film was a pleasure to view. And review!
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on 7 April 2015
Its fair to say that this movie ranks as the best zombie movie EVER, even better than Romero,s Dead Trilogy, and even if most people consider that sacrilegious, I stand by my statement. I have seen a lot of gory horror movies over the decades, but this beats them all due to the fact that it practically revels in the bloodshed by showing you much of it in glorious close up.

As for the infamous eyeball puncturing scene, you may want to look away if your squeamish, because it still makes me squirm even today, and that's coming from someone who thought he had seen it all and was pretty much desensitized to horror. The picture quality is excellent, hardly surprising since they have refurbished it for this edition, and as a result it looks as if it was made only recently, rather than 36 years ago, hard to believe really.

If you love horror, or zombie movies in general, this is an instant classic that you should add to your collection straight away, you won't be disappointed.
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on 6 March 2014
I don't think I'll ever forget the day my brother walked through the door (back in 1981) clasping a large cardboard box - on it read "Sony C5 Betamax VCR". This was it, Saturday nights were never going to be the same. Goodbye Cagney & Lacey, goodbye Ted Rogers & Dusty bin! Hello Enter the Dragon, hello The Exorcist and last but not least hello Vipco's Zombie Flesh Eaters (strong uncut version). I absolutely love this film and to top it all it's now in BluRay transferred from the original negatives and a wonderful transfer it is too; never did zombies look so good - worm infested eye sockets, purple congealed crusts cover the undead, the flies and stench of rotting flesh seem to almost seep from out of the speakers enhanced by the haunting music score of Fabio Frizzi. Who cares if there is some bad acting - bad acting never did Arnold any harm! This film has it all eye gouging, throat ripping shark wrestling, head smashing mayhem. Treat yourself to a Saturday night in as I did all those years ago - turn the lights down and the volume up and enjoy Lucio Fulci's classic "ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS"
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on 24 March 2013
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 arrowcustomerservice@gmail.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.

FAQ

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.
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on 26 November 2012
The results are in....aaaand its a nearly a WINNER!!! Zombie Flesh Eaters, as we know it in the UK, or Zombie/Zombi 2 in other regions has been remastered from the original negative, looks incredible and is available for us all to digest in our homes for evermore. Unfortunately, there is a problem. Refer to my update at the bottom.

Z.F.E. was made in 1979 and it has probably never looked as good as it does now. According to blurb in the supplemental booklet the film was scanned at 2K, stabilised, cleaned up frame by frame of dirt and scratches and great care was taken to preserve the original detail and film grain. Happy days. It is my favourite Fulci film as it has a few things really going for it.
1 - The zombies are very cool. Not all that much more advanced than the simply effective Romero/Savini make ups from Dawn of the Dead but these creatures are totally rotten and decayed and just look fantastic.
2 - Zombie Vs actual Shark underwater fight!!! I mean, thats what we want, right? Say no more.
3 - The truly creepy score from Fabio Frizzi which has a tendency to get stuck in my head after I watch.
Also there is the (in)famous 'eye splintering' scene, a truly iconic European horror scene which is still just as visceral 30 years on.

All in, a brilliant Zombie flick. But thats not all this Blu-ray has to offer. We also get a wealth of extra material relating to the film, Fulci, the music, special effects and the italian splatter genre in general including 2 commentaries, an hour long documentary on Italian Zombie films and a lengthy chat with the films star, Ian McCulloch. And the usual nice little booklet which Arrow always provides too.
I doubt there is much more I could actually want from a Blu-ray release of ZFE extras wise. Thats why it is such a pity that Ive had to amend my review to highlight a shocking error, apparently, in the authoring of the disc. See below.

29th January Update ************ Im now somewhat deflated to conclude that there is indeed missing frames from the opening of this movie. Initially I thought this to be an intentional jump/cut as I could have sworn my old DVD copy had the EXACT same jump cut but it appears to be a fault with this Bluray. I actually cannot express enough how disappointed I am with this as I was so blown away by the overall product but to have 6 seconds missing is no small error. Its INCOMPLETE. And I dont care if what's apparently contained in the 6 seconds is only establishing shots of the twin towers. Its INCOMPLETE!! Simply not good enough. AGAIN ARROW! A replacement program has been mooted but I have yet to see concrete details on how exactly to get a CORRECT replacement.
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