Review: Zombie (Blu-ray)

Lucio Fulci's infamous Italian cult classic Zombie gets the HD treatment courtesy of Blue Underground!

  • Director: Lucio Fulci
  • Starring: Ian McCulloch, Tisa Farrow, Richard Johnson
  • Year: 1979
  • Runtime: 92 Minutes
  • Company: Blue Underground
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Discs: 2 - 50GB
  • Video: 2.35:1 - 1080P - AVC
  • Audio: English/Italian 7.1 DTS-HD, English/Italian 5.1 Dolby Surround EX, English/Italian Original Mono
  • Region: All
  • Released: 10/25/2011

Zombie, Lucio Fulci's first foray into gore drenched horror, is a true gift to the genre. For many it's the gateway film of Italian horror before exploring the infinite offerings the country has unleashed upon the world for consumption. It's an infamous film highly regarded by genre fans for it's outrageous display of vicious gore and grimy imagery. What was once a underground grindhouse staple has now grown into widespread pop culture with scenes even appearing in Windows 7 ads! It's influence and impact is undeniable as it's garnered millions of fans over the world that share an equal, bloody love for what many call Fulci's undisputed classic. 
After a seemingly abandoned boat is boarded by police, they find an obese zombie has eaten the entire crew before they meet the same demise. Peter West (Ian McCulloch) is a news reporter assigned to investigate the origins of the boat where we runs into Ann Bolt (Tisa Farrow), daughter of the ships owner. Together with the help of Bill (Al Cliver), an ethnologist and his scantily clad partner Susan, they travel to Matoul, a secluded island where crazed scientist Dr. Meynard (Richard Johnson) has been experimenting with science and cursed voodoo rituals, resulting in the dead coming back to life to feast on the remaining population. West, Bolt and co must kill to survive the zombie onslaught before they become a member of the undead themselves.
After George Romero's Dawn of the Dead became a monumental hit stateside and overseas in 1978, Italians sought to recreate it's success by capitalizing on the living dead craze. A year later they delivered with Zombie aka Zombi 2, a marketing attempt to numerically connect Fulci's film with Romero's to cash in on it's profits. Besides the obvious zombie link, Lucio's splatter filled journey share's no connection whatsoever. If anything it can be considered a foreign cinematic cousin companion as they are both ultimate zombie romps in their own regard. This was Lucio's freshman horror outing but you wouldn't know it since little time is wasted before the blood begins to flow. Copious amounts of blood that have then and now been shocked, awed and admired at by viewers everywhere.
Zombie's has numerous scenes that have firmly established it as the video nasty it is.  What other film can you witness an underwater dwelling zombie taunt a topless female scuba diver that then wrestles a shark before having it's arm ripped off? How about a cringe inducing close up scene involving a woman having her eye rammed into a splintery wooden spike? None, bar none. Those coupled with many other excellent gore gags provided by FX master Giannetto De Rossi prove it's unequivocally unique stance in the genre.
It's fascinating to see Fulci progress as a director. He'd delve further into the macabre with incredible films such as City of the Living Dead, House By The Cemetery and his most seminal film, The Beyond. All have central haunting atmospheric themes involving the supernatural and share his signature extreme on screen violence. Watch, enjoy, cherish, repeat.

  • Video
The anticipation (and now arrival) of Zombie's Blu-ray debut has been met with much excitement and heated discussion. Previous HD offerings from Blue Underground have been incredible, with a few titles including some digital hiccups. While Zombie is not without some missteps, it's still a revelation and the best home video presentation available. This transfer faithfully delivers vibrantly rich colors with a great amount of detail in close ups. Having seen this in a rough 35mm print myself, the upgrade here is quite substantial and a definite upgrade from the Media Blasters DVD release. Some scenes are affected by some usage of DNR which tends to give off an unnaturally soft look. Zombie and HD lovers shouldn't be bothered by it but it is there. If you want to see Zombie cleaned up and look better than ever, this disc is an essential purchase.
  • Audio
I opted for the English 7.1 DTS HD mix which is finely adequate. Much of the audio is through the front speakers with some music and effects chiming in from the back. Dialogue is always clear and Frizzi's bassy score hums throughout with no problems.

Bonus Features
  • Audio Commentary - Actor Ian McCulloch & Diabolik Magazine Editor Jason Slater
  • Interview - "Zombie Wasteland"
Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver & Stuntman "Worm Eye Zombie" Ottaviano Dell'Acqua gather at the Cinema Wasteland convention for a Zombie reunion Q&A to discuss their time working on the film. Includes their take on the films loving presence in the genre and how Fulci was somewhat of a bully to actresses. Red Shirt Pictures, like always, does another incredible job with this featurette that's informative and even heartfelt.
  • Interview - "Flesh Eaters on Film"
Co-Producer and frequent Fulci collaborator Fabrizio De Angelis discusses his admiration of working with Fulci and even tells a story about how Dario Argento's production firm tried to sue Fulci & Co!
  • Interview - "Deadtime Stories"
Zombie Co-Writers Elisa Briganti & Dardano Sacchetti both talk about the process of writing the screenplay and finding a director for it. Making his horror film debut, Fulci came on board at an angry time in his life according to Briganti and Sacchetti. Despite it, both loved working with Lucio.
  • Interview - "World of the Dead
Cinematographer Sergio Salvati & Production/Costume Designer Walter Patriarca go into great detail on the look, sets and challenges of Zombie's production.
  • Interview - "Zombie Italiano"
Special Make-Up/Effects artists Gianneto De Rossi & Maurizio Trani fascinatingly reminisce about the film's classic gore pieces (Splinter Eye, Zombie vs Shark) and how they accomplished them. It's highly enjoyable to listen to them discuss how they managed to create such amazing effects from scratch on a shoe string budget.
  • Interview - "Notes on a Headstone"
Composer & multiple film scorer for Fulci, Fabio Frizzi divulges how his first time scoring a horror picture was quite different and how new for him it was. Frizzi feels the films effects and visuals are extremely effective compared to his score.
  • Interview - "All in the Family"
Lucio's daughter, Antonella Fulci, discusses her fathers life work and his professional (and sometimes cruel) directing attitude.
  • Interview - "Zombie Lover"
Legendary genre filmmaker Guillermo  Del Toro excitedly oozes his love for Zombie.
  • Introduction - Director/Writer Guillermo Del Toro
Guillermo gives a quick, informative intro before the film begins.
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • TV/Radio Spots
  • Poster/Still Gallery
This truly is an Ultimate Edition. After going through all the available Bonus Features, I truly feel like a Zombie aficionado. If you still have your 2 Disc Media Blasters DVD, hold onto it as many of those features are exclusive to that release.