Zombie Flesh Eaters

Dir: Lucio Fulci, 1979


zombie flesh eaters 2
Theatrical poster for the U.K. cinema release by Tom Beauvais

It’s time to do a “video nasty” review so what better film is there than the ultimate nasty “Zombie Flesh Eaters”?

Also known by alternative titles “Zombie” and “Zombi 2” it was made on the cheap like all other Lucio Fulci films but “ZFE” is a real treat in low grade nastiness. Gory, unnecessary nudity, terrible dubbing…it’s perfect.

To be fair there isn’t much of a plot; just an excuse to get lashings of blood and guts in. The little plot there is concerns an island plagued by a voodoo curse that brings the dead back to life. A girl goes in search of her missing dad and gets caught up in it all. Not original or inspiring but, my god, is it fun!

The music, by Fabio Frizzi, is fantastic. The main theme a real joy to listen to. I have it on my phone. It’s quite impressive for a cheaply made film. Eerie and uncomfortable. It really does set the tone for the film.

Clearly the production could only afford one camera as it swings back and forth between characters talking and Fulci has no concept of editing. It’s called IdleCam.

The “stars” of the film include such horror alumni as Ian McCulloch and former sister in law of Frank Sinatra, Tisa Farrow, younger sister of the more famous Mia.

The film tries to inject a level of respectability by having classic British actor Richard Johnson in the film. But, considering that Johnson hasn’t really made anything ground breaking aside from Robert Wise’s sixties horror “The Haunting” it fails to poke it’s maggot infested head above the quagmire of exploitation.

The film’s real claim to fame is the censorship history the film suffered in Britain. Censored by the regulators on it’s limited release the film made it’s way on to home video courtesy of VIPC (often mistaken as VIPCO due to the company’s logo. It was officially  changed to VIPCO as a result of the mix up). The original tape was pre cut to coincide with the approved theatrical version. A short while later VIPCO decided to distribute the uncut print on video with a big red box emblazoned on the cover proudly stating “strong uncut version”.

The sleeve for VIPCO’s uncut 1981 video release

During this period of unregulated mayhem multiple horror films were confiscated by the police under the offence of obscenity. Some even went to trial and found guilty with the judges insisting that all copies be destroyed and the some distributors even served time!

After the introduction of the Video Recordings Act in 1984 all videos must be approved the governing body, the BBFC.

Unsurprisingly, the film didn’t pass through unscathed and suffered more cuts than the cinema version. The act decrees that extra care must be taken on home viewing as certain scenes can easily be rewatched out of context and the possibility of children getting hold of them.

As the film had been found guilty of obscenity the board had no option but to request that the already cut cinema version be submitted which was, subsequently, passed without any further cuts. Nearly all of the gore was cut out. The infamous splinter in the eye scene was totally removed leaving only the tip of the splinter scratching the cornea before cutting away to the next scene.

Fulci does show flashes of genuine talent. The final shot of the zombies crossing the Brooklyn bridge accompanied by Frizzi’s theme looks amazing.

The truth is this film works because it’s so bad. That’s not to say that some bits don’t make you wince because they do, just see the aforementioned splinter scene.

My missus wasn’t impressed. When it came to the eye gouging she just simply said “that looks so fake”.

Ultimately, it’s definitely worth a watch. If you don’t expect a masterpiece you could really enjoy it.









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