ZOMBIE Blu-ray Review

Editor, U.S. ; Dallas, Texas (@HatefulJosh)
ZOMBIE Blu-ray Review
This is the one everybody has been waiting for. Lucio Fulci's first real horror film and one of the great zombie films of all time has finally made it to Blu-ray. Zombie is a landmark in world horror cinema, it marks the beginning of a cascade of zombie films, especially from Italy, that would become fodder for film fans and censors alike for decades to come, and with good reason.  Zombie (Zombi 2, Zombie Flesh Eaters) is a masterpiece of gory mayhem that set the standard for this very particular niche of cinema. Fulci was its maestro, and despite all of the fantastic films that were made in its wake, none really overtakes Zombie for sheer ferocity. Blue Underground have gone all out on their Blu-ray edition of this film, and it is definitely one that should find space on your shelf.
In Italy, it was considered the 'unofficial sequel' to DAWN OF THE DEAD. In England, it was known as ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS and banned as obscene. In America, it was called ZOMBIE and advertised with the depraved tag line "WE ARE GOING TO EAT YOU!" Tisa Farrow (THE GRIM REAPER), Ian McCulloch (CONTAMINATION), Al Cliver (CANNIBALS), and Richard Johnson (THE HAUNTING) star in this worldwide splatter sensation directed by 'Maestro Of Gore' Lucio Fulci (CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY) that remains one of the most eye-skewering, skin-ripping, gore-gushingly graphic horror hits of all time!
Zombie was conceived as a way to cash in on the international success of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Dawn of the Dead was titled Zombi is Italy, and this film was Zombi 2, despite sharing nothing with Romero's film apart from undead people walking slowly. However, what was intended as a rip-off took on a life of its own when Fulci put his nasty stamp on it.

While Fulci's zombies were slow-moving, like Romero's, they had a different sort of attitude. Fulci's zombies were mean, they seemed to enjoy, in their undead way, inflicting pain and killing, where as Romero's seemed content with sustenance.  This led to a whole new type of film in which the zombies were not merely a threat, but a villain. Fulci enlisted the assistance of several FX artists in creating his diabolical vision, and their work makes this film a success as much as anything else.

If you've never seen Zombie, shame on you!  It is a horror film that everyone should experience at least once, if for no other reason than you can say you've seen a real Video Nasty. It is a visceral film, both emotional and literally, as viscera makes numerous appearances on screen. I can't recommend this film enough, and I suggest you seek it out ASAP!

The Disc:

This is, by far, Blue Underground's most ambitious undertaking in the HD arena so far.  They have done a full restoration on the film and a new HD transfer on this disc that looks fantastic. The image quality is superior to any of the previous DVDs on the market.  The image is a bit soft, but it was shot that way and shouldn't be dinged for the director's intention. The only thing I was a bit unsure about is that the colors seem a little bit cold at times, I can't say that they're wrong, but it was noticeable. Apart from that minor distraction, the sharpness, color, contrast, and brightness all seem very solid, especially for a cult film that is now 30 years old.  The DTS-HD MA 7.1 English audio track is also very good, with the Italian lagging behind as they tend to do on these productions. Blue Underground have also included a Dolby mono track in each language for the purists out there, but I found the 7.1 track to be most engaging.

The extras included in this package are extensive and very interesting.  There are interviews with everyone but the catering staff on the second disc.  Most of the surviving main cast makes an appearance in a featurette that revolves around Cinema Wasteland's Zombie cast reunion in Cleveland, the FX artists get their own featurette, as do the writers, producers, composer, and Antonella Fulci, Lucio's daughter.  All of these interviews are great and filled with fun anecdotes and wildly varying opinions on Fulci, the man. It is interesting to hear how everyone seemed to see him a little bit differently.  Surprisingly, though, the most engaging extra was a ten minute discussion of the film with Guillermo Del Toro, a dyed in the wool horror geek, who knows his stuff and is remarkably articulate, even in his second language. I know there was a little bit of grumbling among fans wondering what he was doing on the disc, but trust me, it is worth watching.  This second disc is a Blu-ray, which I find a bit odd, as the material runs only a little more than an hour and didn't need to be in HD, but hey, why look a gift horse in the mouth?

The remaining extras are on the first disc.  The main attraction there is the feature commentary with Ian McCulloch and Jason Slater of Diabolik Magazine.  This commentary carries over from Anchor Bay's original DVD of Zombie from way back when.  It is informative and entertaining, especially once it becomes apparent that McCulloch hasn't ever seen the film in its entirety and we get to experience his first viewing with him.  The extras round out with trailers, radio spots, and teasers, all previously available from Blue Underground and Anchor Bay.

The only deficiency I can see with this disc is Blue Underground's inability or lack of interest in licensing the extras from Shriek Show's 2 disc DVD of several years back, which has a 98 minute documentary on the making of the film and several other exclusive features.  For that reason alone, I'll be keeping the Shriek Show disc.  However, Blue Underground have done right by Zombie, and any fan of the film NEEDS this disc.  Highly recommended!
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