Tuesday, 29 December 2009
How Fulci's "Zombie" changed my film tastes
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Written by Dardano Sacchetti, Elisa Livia Briganti
Producer Fabrizio De Angelis, Ugo Tucci.
Plot in one sentence: Listless heroes unsuccessfully try to battle existential doom and gloom embodied by a horde of shuffling zombies...
This was the picture that has launched my decade-long obsession with Italian genre films. Thank you, Mr. Fulci, your film was an eye-opener. “Zombie” has been released and re-released so many times in the last few years that it’s almost become a “mainstream” film in the realm of obscure Euro films.
What Works:-Atmosphere of doom. I cannot think of another picture which would create such a powerful sense of despair and hopelessness.
-Close-up shot of Dr Maynard drawing blood from his vein with a syringe. Makes me wince more than the famous “splinter+eyeball” scene.
What doesn’t work:
-Belated introduction of Richard Johnson and Olga Carlatos (“Murderock”) as a husband and wife who hate each other. Their scene is overlong and unnecessarily pushes the film into “failed marriage drama” category, when the viewer is simply longing for another gory zombie attack.
I have seen “Zombie” close to a hundred times. First 50 or so times I saw it via butchered "Vipco" tape and didn’t even know how much footage was missing. But it didn’t really hurt the film. For me the strongest points were unpolished style and downbeat ending, not the gore.
I know every edit so well I could probably reassemble the film from original rushes if I had to. Since my free time and interest in film is currently limited, “Zombie” will surely remain the most oft-rewatched film of my life. “Zombie” was for me a stylistic revolution. After seeing Fulci’s horror masterpiece I couldn’t watch slick, big-budgeted, “happy-end-guaranteed” US pictures anymore. Despite the ridiculous plot and leaden pacing, “Zombie” is made with a sense of raw realism that still impresses today.
Although I fell in love with Fulci’s work thanks to “Zombie”, it’s his gore-lite “The Black Cat” and “Manhattan baby” that I most enjoy re-watching these days.
This review is dedicated to the memory of “VIPCO” which had brought the cut version of “Zombie” as “Zombie Flesh Eaters” to many home video viewers in the UK. Vipco has ceased to operate in 2007. Thanks a lot for those four obligatory trailers: “Psychic Killer”, “Cannibal Holocaust”, “Shogun Assassin”, “Mountain of the Cannibal God”!Yes, there were no extras, yes, the covers were poor, prints non-anamorphic and DVD prices sky-high. Someone even once called them "shitco" due to the poor quality of their releases. But I will miss that trashy label.