Zombi 2 (1979)

For the uninitiated, back in 1978 when George A Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” was released in foreign countries, it was renamed “Zombi” and re-cut for Italian audiences sans the dark comedy. When the movie became a hit, Lucio Fulci took it upon himself to direct the “sequel” entitled “Zombi 2.” Basically, Fulci’s “Zombi 2” is not actually a sequel to Romero’s “Dawn” but unofficially his horror film acts as a pseudo sequel/prequel for “Dawn.” So basically “Dawn” has two sequels, one official, and one unofficial. I of course prefer “Day of the Dead,” but Lucio Fulci’s “Zombi 2” is not without its merits. It’s a terrifying and often haunting zombie film filled with such effective gore and grue that you could smell the stench of the walking dead permeate off the screen at times.

What Fulci mastered about Romero’s zombie films is that the zombies are so utterly life-like that they almost seem to look as if they stink of death. And there is plenty of the walking dead featured in “Zombi 2” that will allow audiences to gaze in absolute disgust. As a zombie phobe as a child, “Zombi 2” is one of the more horrifying movie experiences I’ve ever endured with sequences that border on traumatic and a theme song that is so utterly pulse pounding. Just thinking about it gives me chills. There is of course the final sequence in the film where the walking dead creep in to New York along the bridge that is masterfully filmed and epic in scale. Romero was a genius of manipulating the audience while delivering some key themes and undertones about class warfare and consumerism, while Fulci dodges all of the social commentary in exchange for dead, mood, and tone.

There are no life lessons or human themes to be taught during “Zombi 2.” There’s only humans trying to stop the rising horde of the walking dead and failing spectacularly. Lucio Fulci is brilliant at creating some truly iconic imagery in horror history, so much so that it’s impossible to list all of the incredible and yet surreal moments in his zombie picture. There’s the zombie battling the shark underwater that lives on in camp infamy, there’s the ultimate gross out moment featuring a girl’s eye being pulled in to a wooden shard, and of course the zombie on the yacht in the opening segments. Meanwhile the narrative is pressed on trying to stop the rising plague that Fulci pretty much pulls the rug up from under the audience in the finale revealing that no matter how hard you try, the plague is everywhere.

“Zombi 2” is light on story but the horrors that follow more than compensate for it. “Zombi 2” is a film that begins on a down note and just spirals in to sheer chaos and madness from the starting point and is not an entry built on positivity. Like most of the best zombie films, humanity ends at the claws of the walking dead, and for folks looking for a gruesome and often compelling zombie picture, Lucio Fulci’s “Zombi 2” is guaranteed to whet your insatiable appetite. It’s arguably one of the best examples of its sub-genre ever produced. Filled with lasting iconic imagery, gruesome special effects, and memorable sequences of the sub-genre, Lucio Fulci’s “Zombi 2” is a banner zombie epic that will stick with you for days on end.