Directors: Lucio Fulci, Bruno Mattei, and maybe Claudio Fragasso
Stars: Deran Sarafian, Beatrice Ring, Ottaviano Dell’Acqua
Reiewed by Brian M. Sammons
Okay, this is a weird and wild one, so bear with me. This is an in-name-only sequel to Lucio Fulci’s highly enjoyable Zombi 2, known in North America as Zombie, which in turn was in-name-only sequel to the Dario Argento’s Italian cut of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, renamed in Italy as Zombi. With me so far? Okay, this was made in the Philippines where filming is cheap and with Fulci at the helm, but then he left. There are two different views as for why Fulci left the film unfinished, the first being an illness and the second was that he was having disputes with producers. Me, I believe the second one. So the producers took what Fulci shot and had Bruno Mattei (and depending upon who you talk to, Claudio Fragasso as well) film extra footage. Then this whole thing was stitched together, Frankenstein-like, with Lucio Fulci still given sole director credit because he was respected in the horror community and the other two, well, mostly weren’t. That is, unless you’re a fan of Troll 2 and Rats: Night of Terror. Hey wait, I actually do like Rats: Night of Terror but for all the wrong (right?) reasons. Since then Bruno Mattei has come out to say that he directed about 40 percent of the film, but Claudio Fragasso’s directorial involvement is still, officially, a rumor. Oh, and to add more confusion to this mess, there’s about three different movies that have nothing in common but all lay claim to the title Zombie 3. Anyway, Severin has put this Zombi(e) 3 out on Blu-ray. Is it good, bad, or so bad it’s good? Let’s find out.
The government makes a drug that bring the dead back with the original name of Death One. After it sort of gets loose the army cremates those infected. Gee, did no one watch Return of the Living Dead that came out three years earlier? Oh wait – yeah, I’m guessing they did and tried to “homage” it here. In one kind of neat twist, birds get infected by the zombie ash and become zombie birds to spread the infection. What follows is pretty typical Italian Zombie Exploitation 101. Yes, sadly nothing of what made Fulci’s original Zombi so fun and at times even creep can be found here. Nothing is as gloriously over-the-top as the zombie vs. shark scene. Nothing is as stomach-churning as the splinter through the eye gag. And Fulci’s amazing, slow-moving, staring off into space as they shuffle toward you creepy cadavers are replaces by by people doing the same bad “zombie walk” you see at Halloween parties. Only here the makeup looks noticeably worse.
There’s not a whole lot to recommend about this one, I’m afraid. There are some laugh-out-loud bits, but these are more often than not at the movie’s expense than legitimate attempts at humor. The special effects aren’t so special, the acting is really at a new low, the story is as basic as can be, and there are no great or memorable kills, zombies, or moments to make this movie stand out. It’s tempting to lay all this missed opportunity at the feet of Mattei and Fragasso, but the majority of this film is still Fulci’s, so it’s unfair to do so. No matter who did what, the end result just isn’t very good.
On to the extras that Severin put on this new Blu-ray release. First and foremost there is an extra CD of the soundtrack included in the package, and I just love that. There is an audio commentary track with stars Deran Sarafian and Beatrice Ring. Then there is an interview with the screenwriters Claudio Fragasso and Rossella Drudi that’s nearly 19 minutes long. There is an interview with actors/stuntmen Massimo Vanni and Ottaviano Dell’Acqua that’s just five minutes. There is an interview with now-acknowledged co-director Bruno Mattei that’s eight and a half minutes long. Oh, and his version of the story is that the finished film Fulci handed in was too short, Fulci left due to an illness, and so he was just brought in to pad….er….lengthen it out some. There is an interview with actress Marina Loi that’s a short four and a half minutes and then an interview with FX artist Franco Di Girolamo that’s six minutes.
If you are a fan of Italian gore flicks, hodgepodges of mixed ideas and skill, or of zombie movies regardless of quality, you might like this one. I almost do. I want to like it, but at the end of the day the movie as a whole keeps me from doing so. So for the general horror fan I can’t recommend it. But if you are already a fan of Zombie 3, and I know there’s plenty of you out there, then I do recommend getting this new Severin release of it as it has never looked or sounded better and it does have more than a few nice extras. So yeah, your mileage will vary here.