|Tisa Farrow encounters zombies but no Woody|
In some disquieting opening scenes, a seemingly abandoned yacht floats around New York City harbor, where a Coast Guard officer is attacked by a demonic figure. The owner of the ship has disappeared, and his daughter, Anne (Tisa Farrow), goes off with reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch) to find him. They set sail with Brian (Al Cliver) and his girlfriend, Susan (Auretta Gay), to the mysterious island of Matul, where something strange is happening to the natives. Dr. Menard (Richard Johnson), who was working with Anne's father, is dealing with a plague of the recently diseased coming back from the dead. He refuses to believe that this has anything to do with voodoo, but it isn't long before ancient corpses are rising from their graves, turned into flesh-eating ghouls. It's a question if anyone will survive to get off the island. Fulci clearly took his cue from Night of the Living Dead and its sequels, but arguably Zombie is a better horror-thriller than any of them. The performances are professional, but the pic's selling point is decidedly the very grisly FX and make ups, with the gross-out factor as prevalent in this as in more recent movies. The film's "highlights" include an underwater battle between a zombie and a shark, the attack on Menard's wife (Olga Karlatos), featuring a sadistic scene when her head is slowly pulled toward a sharp piece of wood which impales her eye -- she is later feasted on by the ghouls -- and the climax when many zombies attack Renard's jungle hospital. Say what you will about Zombie (which I have no doubt is Fulci's best film), it is creepy, fast-paced and even, at times, suspenseful. Tisa Farrow is the sister of Mia Farrow, but her career certainly took a different direction. She has only a few credits and did a number of Italian thrillers. The best-known actor in the cast, Richard Johnson (ex-husband of Kim Novak), starred in The Haunting, and as Bulldog Drummond in Deadlier Than the Male and its dreadful sequel Some Girls Do.
Verdict: Effective and very gory Italian horror film. ***.