Zombi 3 aka Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 (1988) review

One from the re watch pile…
Zombi 3 aka Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 (1988)


Film: I have a very special place in my heart for the work of Lucio Fulci. Why? Because he’s freakin’ AWESOME! I was brought up on some of his films on VHS, specifically The Beyond and City of the Living Dead, and since the advent of DVD and Bluray, I’ve been able to expand my exposure to his work, and even though there are several missteps, and a lot of nutso stuff pumped out of his factory, I have a great affection for it all.

Ok, I’ve gotten the fanboy stuff out of the way, now for the ‘professional’ review, and I’ll point out that even though I like watching his films, I am well aware of the shortcomings of some of them. This film, known as both Zombi 3 and Zombi Flesh Eaters 2, is a real item of its time. It riffs on so many films, such as Return of the Living Dead and The Crazies, but doesn’t have the budget, or talent either in front of the cameras, or tragically behind them.


This film was written by Claudio Fragasso, though IMDB mentions Rossella Drudi who wrote Troll 2, and this is such a dog’s breakfast I see no reason why that wouldn’t be true, but her involvement isn’t the only reason for this film’s confusion. Fulci had a stroke during production, and the directorial reigns were handed to both Fragasso and second unit director Bruno Mattei, who dumped some of Fulci’s 70 minute cut, taking it to 50 minutes, and added 40 minutes of their own footage.

When a toxin is stolen from a research lab, it accidentally infects the thief. The toxic dies once airborne, but when transfer from human to human, via blood, or breath (hang on, isn’t that ‘airborne’?) or saliva, or other gooey, mucusy bits, it turns the infected into a violent, zombie-like crazy.

The original thief is found and his body destroyed by the army in a crematorium, but the doctor’s inform them that this was a stupid idea as the smoke could transfer the virus… You know, airborne (as fire cause it to mutate, obviously)… and infect even more people, or…um… Birds.


*sigh*

… And yes, birds and people are indeed infected and a zombie outbreak happens, as we follow a small group of holiday-makers and on-leave soldiers as they try to survive…

Ok, so there is so much wrong with this film. The cinematography is terrible at some points, one in particular is a car hood mounted camera looking into a windscreen that has a strong reflection on it, completely obscuring the occupant of the vehicle. Some of the dialogue is either completely crap, or ‘borrowed’ directly from Return of the Living Dead, also stolen from ROTLD is the way some of the music cues are presented: actually ROTLD is a source for a lot of the film. Especially fun is the acting… Well, the over-acting. The main Doctor character acts like he is in a Power Rangers outfit: you know what I mean, hands waving around, head wobbling and you know what a William Shatner impersonation sounds like? Well he talks like that!


In spite of, or maybe (probably) because of these reasons it’s actually entertaining. I mean, your mate who loves big budget, world destroying CGI fests is not going to find much here to enjoy, but you spaghetti-loving, Italian film fans are gonna roll their eyes in ecstasy.

Be warned: this isn’t a good film, it’s a fun roller coaster!

Score: **

Format: The film was reviewed as a part of 88 Films’ ‘The Italian Collection’. It is a region B Blu-ray Disc presented in 1.66:1 widescreen with a LPCM 2.0 track, both of which are pretty good.

Score: ****

Extras: Wonderful extras live in this two disc set. The first disc gives us alternate Italian opening and closing sequences, interviews with Dell’acqua (in a piece called Veteren of the Living Dead) MacColl (in a live Q & A with terrible sound), Ring (Zombie Reflections which is more a stills gallery with a voiceover about her career played over it, nothing wrong with that but again, the audio is substandard) and Fragasso, and a trailer reel featuring Children of the Corn, Don’t Go In The Woods, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man, Mother’s Day, Slaughterhouse, Trancers and Splatter University.


The second disc, called ‘Paura: Lucio Fulci Remembered’ is a collection of interviews divided into three sections: Accomplices (his cohorts in the making of his films), Peers (other Italian directors of the period), and Victims (his actors and actresses). It is a nice collection of tributes and anecdotes of the man, and something Fulci fans will enjoy.

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s dumb, but it’s fun, so yeah, even though it got a low score, I’d probably watch it again for kicks.

Deep Red (1975) Review

We made it, the final day of our ‘three colours Italian’, and what better way to celebrate then ‘red’ stripe on the Italian flag than with a favourite film of mine, Dario Argento’s Profundo Russo aka Deep Red!
One from the re watch pile…

Deep Red (1975)


Film: It wasn’t until Umbrella Entertainment in Australia started releasing Dario Argento’s films in the early 10s that I really started paying attention to who Dario Argento was. Sure I’d had a casual dalliance with him via Suspiria and Creepers (aka Phenomena), but my go-to guy for Italian horror was Lucio Fulci and his zombie flicks. I had, however heard and read a lot about Argento in Fangoria and was interested in seeing his work, so when Umbrella his the accelerator on things like Suspiria, Phenomena, Tenebrae, Sleepless etc I was ready to roll.

The ones that really captured my imagination though, were this film, Deep Red, and the aforementioned Tenebrae, which turned me from casual English speaking thriller fan to full tilt lover of Gialli.

This film, directed by Argento, was written by him along with Bernardino Zapponi, a writer who also worked on such legendary pieces of Italian cinema as Fellini’s Satyricon and Roma.


Deep Red tells of pianist Marcus Daly (David Hemmings) who has witnessed the murder of renowned psychic Helga Ulman (March Méril), a Oman who recently publicly outed a mystery person as a murderer. In the back of his mind, Marcus feels he has seen something important to the identity of Ulman’s killer, but can’t quite put his finger on it. He enlists the help of friend Carlo (Gabriele Lavia) and annoying, but tenaciously cute reporter Gianna (Daria Nicolodi) to dos little private investigation, but what he finds is that maybe the killer is closer than he ever suspected…

This disc has two versions of the film in the packaging, both remastered in hi definition. Disc 1 contains the director’s cut of the film which is longer and tells a more intimate version of the tale. The second version on the film on disc 2, is the shorter English version of the film. Even though each tell more or less the same story, I do prefer this one, and watch it more often than the other. Why? Well my reason is, and this is an affront to everything we as cinemaphiles think and that is, what is cut isn’t really necessary to move the story along. Sure some of it is character building stuff, but you don’t miss it in the theatrical version, and to me it tells the story more efficiently. Also, in the director’s cut, the police seem buffoonish and don’t suit the overall tone of the film.

My love of Argento films is defined by this film and two others: Suspiria and Tenebrae. As a murder mystery, it’s perfect and the violence shocking and sudden. It engages with the topic of homosexuality that films of this era rarely did without being insulting, nor with any trace of ‘whoopsie’, you know: the John Inman-ish mincing. The best thing about this film though is the staging of each scene; Argento appears to be a frustrated painter as each scene has a rhythm, and a layout that is visually striking.

A special note has to be made for the inclusion of someone whom I think is the Princess of Gialli, Nicoletta Elmi. This young redhead girl appears in many films of this era, and judging by her appearance in Demons, grew to be a beautiful lady. For my she’s like a ‘Where’s Wally? special guest star.


The soundtrack is amazing too. I’ll bring up Tenebrae here again as the Goblin score on Deep Red is second only to that one. Most modern day soundtracks seem to disappear within the background, but the score here is like a palpable character whose presence effects the viewers state of mind, like a good score should.

All in all, I love this film. It’s a great watch, a sound thriller and has an epic score. You really need to have this in your collection!

Score: *****

Format: The Arrow bluray release of the film is presented in the 127 minute director’s cut, or the 105 minute theatrical cut, and is presented in a well restored 2.35:1 anamorphic image with various choices of sound, the best being the director’s cut Italian 5.1. If you watch the director’s cut in the English 5.1 audio you have to be aware of the fact that the dialogue switches from English to Italian. Across the board though both image and sound are great.

Score: ****

Extras

This disc has some really awesome extras across two discs, and for an Argento fan (like me) it’s quite entertaining.


Disc 1 has both a US and Italian Trailer, Lady In Red – Daria Nicolodi Remembers Profundo Russo, Music to Murder For – Claudio Simonetti on Deep Red and Rosso Recollections – Dario Argento’s Deep Genius

Disc 2 has the documentary Rosso: From Celluloid to Shop which is basically an interview with Luigi Cozzi, director and the gentleman who runs the horror store/ museum in Rome, Profundo Rosso.

This Arrow edition also came with a choice of 4 different covers for the sleeve, a double sided poster featuring the new artwork and a booklet by Alan Jones, the author of Dario Argento – The Man, The Myth & The Magic. There is also a commentary by Argento specialist Thomas Rostock, which sounds very stilted by is quite fascinating.

For a fan of gialli and/ or Argento there is heaps to enjoy here!

Score: *****

WISIA: It is one of my all time favourite movies,and I probably watch it once every 6 months, so definitely!

Jungle Holocaust (1977) Review

Today is the first day of our Italian Festa Della Repubblica celebration, and for the next three days we’ll have a film representing a colour of the Italian flag. The first colour is, of course, green, and what better way to celebrate ‘green’ Italian cinema than with a cannibal/ jungle film…One from the to watch pile…

Jungle Holocaust aka Last Cannibal World (1977)


Film: Also known as Ultimo Mondo Cannibale.

I became a cannibal film fan late in my love of horror films. During the VHS era I was more interested in zombie films and American stuff, though I had seen Survive and Cannibal Apocalypse. It wasn’t until DVD that I saw Cannibal Holocaust for the first time, and was completely won over by what I magnificent film it was, not just as a genre/ horror/ exploitation film but also as a thriller about how no matter where you walk on earth you have an effect, sometimes positive, sometimes negative. This of course led to to pursue other cannibal films, and even though I have had this in my collection for a while, I had never actually watched it.

It is directed by Cannibal Holocaust’s director Ruggero Deodato, from a script by Tito Carpi, Gianfranco Clerici and Renzo Genta.


Robert Harper (Massimo Foschi) travels to Malaysia to visit a group of employees, but the airstrip has gone to ruin and his plane crashes upon landing. Soon, the pilot and his female companion are killed by a local tribe of natives, and Harper finds himself separated from his companion Rolf (Ivan Rassimov).

Harper is quickly captured by the locals and is tortured and humiliated by the tribe, though one girl, Pulan (Me Me Lai) offers him sympathy… And a hand shandy ( I guess that’s why her name is ‘Pulin’).

Of course, he is desperate to escape, but will he? Is he forever trapped?


I have to say I’m luke warm on this. This film came before Cannibal Holocaust and a lot of this feels like a testing ground for what comes after. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that, but occasionally it is hard to make a proper judgement on something when seen out of release order. I am sure if I had seen this before the others my opinion would be different.

That’s not to say it doesn’t tell a great story about the jungle environment, and what men might do to survive, and the three leads are quite good in their roles, and Me Me Lai isn’t too hard on the eyes at all!

I will point out, if nudity, or particularly male nudity, and I’m talking full frontal, sack up close nudity either offends or threatens your masculinity, avoid this film. There more sausage in this film than at a German butchers.

Also, animal cruelty is present in this film, though Deodato claims, in an introduction, that he was not responsible for it. If you have a tender sensibility or a weak stomach, boy oh boy is your constitution gonna be tested.

…aaaaand as far as feminism is concerned, well the offence may continue. I don’t admit to knowing anything about it, but I am sure a native girl who suffers from penis envy, and falls for a guy after he slaps her around and then rapes her isn’t a feminist icon.

Ok, so if your offended by nudity, a vegan or a feminist, you probably shouldn’t watch this.

For me this is far from the best cannibal films around, but I am glad I have now seen it as I can add it’s viewing to my list of cannibal films.

Score: **

Format: This review was done using the apparently uncut, 2001 Shriek Show release on region 1 DVD. It runs for approximately 88 minutes and is presented in a 2.35:1 video with Dolby 2.0 stereo audio. The picture is quite clear, but occasionally a touch soft and has a mild amount of tiny artefacts here and there. The sound though is pretty damn good.

Score: ***


Extras: Not a bad amount of extras can be found on this disc, including Memoirs From The Jungle which is broken up into Materials Archive, which is a series of promotional posters and lobby cards for the film, an interview with Massimo Foschi, some personal snapshots of the film taken from Foschi’s collection and another interview, but this time with Ivan Rassimov.

The original trailer is also here (though as Last Cannibal World), as well as text pieces of the director’s filmography, and Talent Biographies of Deodato, Foschi, Lai and Rassimov.

There is also a director’s commentary performed by Ruggero Deodato, though he does it in his native Italian, with English subtitles, and wow, he comments on everything. Fascinating!

There are also trailers for Beyond the Darkness, Zombie Holocaust, Nights of Terrors (sic) and Eaten Alive.

Score: ****

WISIA: In a world where Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Apocalypse and Cannibal Ferox exists; I probably won’t watch this again.