A New York City harbour and there is a yacht adrift in the bay, getting in the way of the ferries and other boats, so a patrol boat is sent alongside to investigate. The two patrolmen think there might be something worth salvaging if there really is no one aboard, so they climb on and find the yacht apparently deserted, but there are signs of a struggle. Suddenly, a huge man bursts through the connecting door of one cabin and attacks one of the patrolmen, taking a bite out of him. News about this modern Mary Celeste travels fast, and it's not long before reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch) is onto the story - but he's going to get closer than he would ever want...
George A. Romero's hit Dawn of the Dead was known as Zombi in Italy, so it made financial sense to name this otherwise unrelated horror Zombi 2 for the audience to make favourable comparisons. Elsewhere it was simply Zombie, and in the United Kingdom the film was called Zombie Flesh Eaters; when it was released on home video in the early nineteen-eighties, it became one of the most notorious examples of the video nasties hysteria and was quickly banned. Now, in these more enlightened times, the ban has been lifted and it can be seen uncut in Britain for the briskly assembled exploitation it really is.
Scripted by Elisa Briganti, Zombie 2 starts out with a surprisingly suspenseful sequence on the yacht, but it's practically the only chance you'll get to see one of the undead for at least half an hour. There's a lot of exposition to get through to bring the characters together as West bumps into the daughter of a research scientist, Anne Bowles (wide-eyed Tisa Farrow, the less famous sister of Mia Farrow) when he goes to the dock to check out the yacht. They both have the same idea, to get to the source of the mystery, but Anne has a personal interest: the yacht has sailed from the Carribbean, where her father is working, but has not been heard from in over a month.
And so it so that the duo hitch a ride with two Americans, Brian Hull (Al Cliver) and Susan Barrett (Auretta Gay), on their boat trip to the area, yet the island in question proves difficult to find. The film is nothing if not derivative, not only cashing in on Dawn but also, believe it or not, Jaws as Susan takes a dive to use her camera and is menaced by a shark. As if to prove that zombies are better than sharks, there follows a ridiculous bit of business with one of the walking dead (swimming dead?) appearing and taking a mouthful of the big fish. If only the filmmakers could have come up with a zombie shark then they would have covered both bases more economically.
Finally we reach the island where Dr Menard (a grizzled-looking Richard Johnson) is struggling with what he believes is a medical problem: the dead returning to life to chomp on the living. But in fact, this is a throwback to the origins of the zombie myth, as it's voodoo that is the cause. Strangely, although we hear native drums on the soundtrack we never see anyone actually practicing voodoo, so it's the motivation for the problem remains unclear. Once the four adventurers reach the island, all hell breaks loose with the effects and makeup department going to town to create some of the grottiest zombies you'll ever see. It all leads up to an apocalyptic climax, fitting as McCulloch's starring role in the British television series Survivors was the reason he was cast. If Zombie 2 has lost some of its forbidden mystique over the years due to its availability, it still provides entertainment for nostalgic gorehounds. Music by Giorgio Cascio and Fabio Frizzi.
Aka: Zombi 2
[Zombie Flesh Eaters is now available as part of Anchor Bay's Box of the Banned, along with The Driller Killer, Last House on the Left, I Spit On Your Grave, Nightmares in a Damaged Brain, The Evil Dead and two in depth documentaries on the video nasties controversy.]
Italian director whose long career could best be described as patchy, but who was also capable of turning in striking work in the variety of genres he worked in, most notably horror. After working for several years as a screenwriter, he made his debut in 1959 with the comedy The Thieves. Various westerns, musicals and comedies followed, before Fulci courted controversy in his homeland with Beatrice Cenci, a searing attack on the Catholic church.