Thursday, 27 October 2011

Fulci's Zombie the Blu-ray boat can leave now...

Notorious for being banned in the UK for many years as a ‘Video Nasty’ Zombi 2 a.k.a Zombie and Zombie Flesheaters brought Italian director Lucio Fulci world cult status. Although it's sequels dissipated into dust Zombie found a following on grainy VHS and DVD plagued problems on its varying editions.

US company Blue Underground have released a new all singing and dancing Blu- ray edition. The two discs are a little marketing ploy but that said what they contain is zombie horror priceless, especially if you’re a fan. However, UK company, Arrow's 2 disc Blu-ray offering is even better with arguably a good extras.

There’s the familiar commentary with Ian McCulloch and the usual regurgitated promotional material. But on Disc two there is a wealth of new interviews from cast and crew (in HD) and horror cleric Guillermo del Toro giving his thoughts on one of his most beloved films. But the star of this edition is the film itself lovingly restored by the Italian facility LVR to possibly the best it can be (*until the Arrow UK version comes along - probably). Edit Nov 2012 - *Arrow Blu-ray release has the original mono and while not having the 5.1 sound of option still trumps the Blue Underground version with a far superior picture, and does contain new commentaries and an array of new extras. Arrow is my preferred version to date.

Underground's print is clean, defect free with the high resolution bringing out the blood and gores glorious colours. The great thing is that the skin tones look much more natural and even more so in Arrow's version. Overall, it's a zombie must have and a worthy upgrade.

My thoughts on the film haven’t changed but if you don’t know much about Zombie here it goes...

After an incident in New York bay a reporter and a scientist's daughter travel to an Island aided by two locals. However, the dead are returning to life on the Island... The zombies long for human flesh and the pair find themselves in hopeless situation.

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. Conflicting reports say that a draft was written prior to Dawn of the Dead (a.ka. Zombi) (this maybe unfounded) but 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.

The discs in detail:

• Audio Commentary with Star Ian McCulloch and Diabolik Magazine Editor Jason J. Slater
• Theatrical Trailers
• TV Spots
• Radio Spots
• Poster & Still Gallery
• Guillermo del Toro Intro

DISC 2 All in 1080p!:
• "Zombie Wasteland" - Interviews with Stars Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson & Al Cliver, and Actor/Stuntman Ottaviano Dell'Acqua (22:19)
• "Flesh Eaters on Film" - Interview with Co-Producer Fabrizio De Angelis (9:39)
• "Deadtime Stories" - Interviews with Co-Writers Elisa Briganti and (Uncredited) Dardano Sacchetti (14:30)
• "World of the Dead" - Interviews with Cinematographer Sergio Salvati and Production & Costume Designer Walter Patriarca (16:29)
• "Zombi Italiano" - Interviews with Special Make-Up Effects Artists Gianetto De Rossi & Maurizio Trani and Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi (16:34 )
• "Notes on a Headstone" - Interview with Composer Fabio Frizzi (7:25)
• "All in the Family" - Interview with Antonella Fulci (6:08)
• "Zombie Lover" - Award-Winning Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro talks about one of his favorite films (9:37)


- Brand new high definition restoration of the original negative with optional English and Italian opening/closing sequences

- Optional English SDH subtitles for English Audio, newly translated English subtitles for Italian audio - Original Mono 2.0 Italian and English audio

 - Audio commentary with screenwriter Elisa Briganti moderated by Calum Waddell

- Audio commentary with Fulci biographer Stephen Thrower and horror expert Alan Jones .

- UK exclusive introduction to the film from Ian McCulloch


 - FROM ROMERO TO ROME: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE ITALIAN ZOMBIE FILM: Veteran Fulci screenwriters Dardano Sacchetti (THE BEYOND) and Antonio Tentori (CAT IN THE BRAIN), celebrated UK critic Kim Newman and filmmakers Luigi Cozzi (CONTAMINATION), Ruggero Deodato (CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST), Russ Streiner (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD) plus many more share memories of the genesis of corpse-crunching cinema - from Romero's early templates to the gory glory days of Fulci and his many successors.

 - THE MEAT MUNCHING MOVIES OF GINO DE ROSSI: The special effects magician behind many Italian splatter classics talks about his most famous gore-drenched greats - and shows props from many plasma-packed masterworks - including ZOMBIE FLESH-EATERS, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, CANNIBAL FEROX, BURIAL GROUND and PIRANHA II.

- MUSIC FOR A FLESH-FEAST: Composer Fabio Frizzi - Live Q&A from the Glasgow Film Theatre - ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS - FROM SCRIPT TO SCREEN: Dardano Sacchetti shows key pages from his original ISLAND OF THE LIVING DEAD screenplay.

 - Trailers and TV spots

- Collector’s booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by Fulci biographer Stephen Thrower, a new interview with star Olga Karlatos by Calum Waddell, a history of Zombie Flesh Eaters and the BBFC by Craig Lapper, one of the board’s senior examiners, and extracts of the original ‘Nightmare Island’ 1978 script including unfilmed, alternate, and more gory sequences as well as a Lucio Fulci CV compiled by Jay Slater

- Limited Edition Exclusive artworks by Graham Humphreys