Italian director Lucio Fulci had varied directing ventures prior to Zombi 2, with a visual style of his own arguably less art house and more appealing than Dario Argento.
Lucio's fan base grows and grows even after his death in 1996 due to his ability to create gory, yet, beautiful atmospheric films. Surprisingly, Fulci didn't realise how well known and celebrated he was in the rest of the world until stuck in a snowstorm in New York surrounded by fans not long before his death.
Many of his fantastic framed films images linger in your mind long after the credits, notably The Beyond (1981) a.k.a E tu vivrai nel terrore - L'aldilà and City of the Living Dead (1980) a.k.a Paura nella città dei morti viventi.
Zombi 2 brought him world cult status while it's sequels dissipated into dust. Nevertheless, they have a small fan following but I feel they fail as follow-ups, lack cult stature and Fulci's style so much so I haven't comment on Zombi 5 (even with actor Robert Vaughan being a personal favourite of mine).
Zombie Flesheaters (1979) a.ka. Zombi 2
Not to be confused with Bruno Mattei's Zombie Creeping Flesh (1980) (a.k.a Virus, Hell of the Living Dead to name a few) Lucio Fulci's Zombie Flesheaters (1979) is far superior. Some reports say it was written prior to Dawn of the Dead (a.ka. Zombi) (this may be unfounded) either way most horror fans are aware that the name Flesheaters was changed to Zombi 2 and a new ending was tagged on to cash in on Romero success. You could argue that the talked about soundtrack is as intrusive as Dawn of the Dead music themes and that the eye scene is better than Argento's vocational displays.
Comparisons to other movies aside Zombie Flesheaters (1979) suffers from Lucio Fulci's own trappings - including badly written dialogue, choppy editing and bad dubbing. That said, there are very few directors that capture atmosphere you can taste. Fulci's cinematic look is heightened by Giorgio Cascio and Fabio Frizzi's excellent eerie and foreboding score.
The cast are almost sufficient, Tisa Farrow and Ian McCulloch are adequate, note worthy is Richard Johnson as Dr. David Menard. Notorious for the shark/zombie scene Flesheaters is so much more, Fulci creates some unmatched ambiance, the visuals are as lingering as the dead, dusty paths, an old Spanish cemetery, darkness lit up by Molotov cocktails and so on.
Zombie Flesheaters with all its low-budget faults is a creepy, slow
paced, effective zombie film.
Zombi 3 (1988) a.k.a Zombie Flesheaters 2
Not really linked to its predecessor zombi 2, a virus outbreak (similar to Return of the Living Dead) causes the dead to rise and the military must stop the contaminated. Trapped in the zone are a few soldiers and civilians that must fight to survive.
Although billed as directed by Italian directing maestro Lucio Fulci who supposedly shot approximately 70 minutes of footage, second unit director Bruno Mattei and writer Claudio Fragasso took over and only used 50 minutes of Fulci's footage. On viewing this lovable travesty it is very debatable how much of Fulic's footage really appears. There only appears smudgings of the Italians magic as it feels more like Mattei's Hell of the Living Dead/Night of the Zombies/Zombie Creeping Flesh.
Like its follow up, zombi 4 there's talking zombies, jumping undead and zombies that want to fight rather than attack and eat flesh. Also there's two crazy standout scenes, a flying head and a baby zombie birth. It may all sound like fun but it's zombie scenes with the civilians and regular soldiers fighting the government's hazardous white suit army that stand out, sadly not the wacky ones.
The zombie gore, blood, make-up and effects are inconsistent, sometimes effective and at other time revealing poor. There's overuse of a fog machine, laughable dialogue especially from the scientists and military personnel. The synthesised soundtrack is great but like the broadcasting DJ ill-fitting at times. As a sequel to Zombie Flesheaters it's below average, meandering from one silly setup to the next but it's still plenty of fun.
Zombi 3/Zombie Flesheaters 2 at times is more a virus flick, reminiscent of The Crazies or Nightmare City than Fulics cult film Zombi 2. Overall, with its gooey opening restored despite it's short falls Zombie 3 remains none the less entertaining..
Zombi 4 : After Death (1989) a.k.a Zombie Flesheaters 3
A woman inadvertently goes back to a zombie infested island where her parents were killed.
Writer /director Claudio Fragasso wild abysmal sequel has very little link to Fulci's Zombi. Fragasso's film seems predominantly like Mattei's Virus/ Hell of the living Dead / Night of the Zombies (1980). Like Night of the Zombies was a Dawn of the Dead wannabe, this is another bad cheese festival of zombie nonsense.
While the phrase so bad it's good can be be applied to Night of the Zombies, Zombi 4 is plain borderline with a few redeeming features. Mainly some make up effects and lead cast. There's awfully executed effects, shoddy lighting, sub-par directing, illogical storytelling and coupled with daft exposition dialogue in every scene at times its simply cheap but not cheerful. While fun, talking zombies, guns, candles falling over, jumping undead add up to very little.
The 80's rock soundtrack of is probably its best redeeming feature. As another cash-in follow up to Zombie Flesheaters it's slightly disappointing.