Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Zombie: 2-Disc Ultimate Edition
Release Date(s)1979 (October 24, 2011)
Studio(s)Variety Film Production (Blue Underground)
Several years ago, I was asked to write a bio for this very website. In it, I wrote that I had reviewed "everything from A.I. to Y Tu Mama Tambien" as I had not yet reviewed a title that began with the letter Z. Well, the time has finally come to update that paragraph and I couldn't be happier. Everything from A.I. to Zombie has a much better ring to it.
Every horror fan worth their weight in blood should be familiar with Lucio Fulci's Zombie (originally released in Italy as Zombi 2 and promoted as a sequel to Romero's Dawn Of The Dead, which had been retitled Zombi for the Italian market). The movie earned much of its notoriety in the mid-80s when it was banned in the UK at the height of the "video nasty" scare. Even today, its gruesome imagery has the power to make even the most jaded viewer flinch.
There are those who claim that Zombie is Fulci's masterpiece. I wouldn't go that far. The Beyond is pretty hard to top. But this is one of my favorite walking dead movies. It boasts some amazing scenes you'll see nowhere else, including the world's first and best underwater zombie-shark fight. A woman's eye is punctured, slowly and agonizingly, on a splinter of wood. Worm-dripping corpses rise up from beneath the dirt. Fulci shoots these horrors through a dreamlike lens, giving the movie a surreal atmosphere. After I saw Zombie the first time years ago, I wanted to watch it again just to make sure it was a real movie and not some fever-induced nightmare I'd had.
Studios toss around terms like "Ultimate Edition" far too casually but Blue Underground really has knocked this one out of the park. Zombie boasts a new HD transfer supervised by cinematographer Sergio Salvati. It's a marked improvement over their previous DVD release. It isn't quite perfect, as black levels are occasionally not as defined as you'd hope, but the colors are vibrant and the image is for the most part nicely textured. There are a number of audio options, including a 7.1 DTS-HD mix in both English and Italian. For a surround mix, it doesn't surround you much. Most of the action is geared toward the front channels. Still, it's a satisfying presentation.
Extras on the first disc include a terrific, fully engaging audio commentary by star Ian McCulloch with Jason J. Slater from Diabolik Magazine, trailers, TV spots, radio spots, an extensive poster and still gallery, and a brief optional introduction by Guillermo del Toro. The second disc includes over 100 minutes of new interview featurettes, all in full 1080p and each one approaching the film from a different aspect. Zombie Wasteland features cast members McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver and Ottaviano Dell'Acqua at the Cinema Wasteland convention in 2010. Flesh Eaters On Film interviews co-producer Fabrizio De Angelis. Deadtime Stories talks to co-writers Elisa Briganti and Dardano Sacchetti. World Of The Dead includes cinematographer Sergio Salvati and production/costume designer Walter Patriarca. Zombi Italiano features special make-up effects artists Gianetto De Rossi and Maurizio Trani along with special effects artist Gino De Rossi. Notes On A Headstone focuses on the movie's iconic score with composer Fabio Frizzi. All In The Family features Fulci's daughter, Antonella Fulci. And finally, Guillermo del Toro returns to more fully discuss the movie in Zombie Lover. Everyone has a story to tell and the interviews are candid, well-shot, and thoroughly engrossing. There isn't a single feature on the disc you should skip.
Blue Underground has produced some very good Blu-rays in the past. But many of them have simply been HD upgrades of existing DVDs. Whether or not you chose to replace a DVD boiled down to how much you cared about HD picture quality. Even if you already own this movie, you're going to want to buy this disc. Zombie is the best Blu-ray Blue Underground has released to date. It's a superlative edition of a great, gory classic.
On behalf of all of us at The Bits... we are going to eat you! Happy Halloween.
- Dr. Adam Jahnke