ZOMBI 2 (otherwise known in the U.S. as just ZOMBIE and, in the U.K., as ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS) is one of the best known zombie flicks to come out of Europe during the 70’s and 80’s. For those of you who have not yet seen an Italian zombie flick, this movie is a pretty good place to start, as this is probably the best of its type–although it does contain the weaknesses and general cheesiness that one should expect, given its genre and origins.
The story goes that, way back in ’78, a fairly well-known little zombie movie was released in the United States called DAWN OF THE DEAD, created by the man who more or less created the flesh-eating zombie genre, George A. Romero. It was released overseas under the title ZOMBI, and was outrageously popular. It was so popular, in fact, that Lucio Fulci decided to do his own flesh-eating zombie movie, titled GLI ULTIMI ZOMBI. Producers evidently decided that Fulci’s movie should take advantage of ZOMBI’s popularity, so they slapped on a new opening and closing scene and re-titled the movie ZOMBI 2, giving audiences the impression that it was the sequel to ZOMBI. In reality, the two movies have almost nothing to do with each other.
For those who have never seen an Italian zombie movie, keep this in mind: generally speaking, all of these movies contain obvious voice dubbing, even when the actors are speaking English. The zombies move slowly, but manage to catch their victims anyway–typically, those under attack spend more time standing still and screaming than running or fighting back. Heck, most of the characters you’ll see will do anything but make logical decisions, even when they aren’t faced by walking corpses. There’s also a staple in horror Euro-trash cinema that someone has to get an eye gouged out, and the eye gouge has to come very, very slowly.
Additionally, ZOMBI 2 contains a famous round of zombie versus shark, to be discovered by a nearly naked young woman underwater. I should also note that nudity and gore are also staples of the genre, and this movie is no exception.
The plot is pretty simple. A ghost ship appears in New York City from the island of Matul in the Antilles–a ghost ship, except, of course, for two carnivorous zombies, who quickly dispatch the two officers sent to investigate. It turns out the ship belonged to one Dr. David Menard, and his daughter, Anne Bowles (Tisa Farrow), decides to search for him, fearing the worst. She is met by a journalist, Peter West (Ian McCulloch), who agrees to help her find her father at Matul. So they set out together for the Antilles, and manage to hitch a ride to the island via ship with a young couple (Al Cliver and Auretta Gay). When they arrive, they do find Dr. Menard (Richard Johnson), but unfortunately, they also find hordes of flesh-eating zombies, apparently animated by either a plague or some sort of voodoo curse. From there, the story just involves a lot of zombies eating people, which is really the whole point of the movie.
Is this worth watching? I certainly thought so. The special effects are actually fairly good, and the zombies are a lot less corny than those seen in the other zombie flicks to come out of Europe. Like I said, those who have never seen one of these types of movies might do well to start with this one.