In a New York hospital, an orderly from a remote Indonesian island is found to be stealing body parts and eating them. He kills himself before he can be questioned, so a party comprising two doctors, a journalist and a guide set out to Southern Asia to find out why ancient cannibalism is suddenly being practiced in the heart of the city. On the island of Kito they find a American doctor performing secret experiments, plus a tribe of hungry cannibals.. and wait, is that a zombie hiding in the bushes?
Also widely known in a differently-edited version as Dr Butcher MD, Marino Girolami's cult favourite was one of numerous Italian-made tropical gorefests released during the late-seventies/early-eighties, and carries the dubious honour of being probably the only one to feature cannibals, zombies AND a mad doctor. That's not to say any of these elements are used particularly originally – Cannibals Holocaust and Ferox both have the New York framing device, as does Lucio Fulci's Zombie Flesheaters, and the catalogue of impalings, eye gougings and disembowelments are pretty interchangeable with any of the above. But it's nice to see a Spaghetti cannibal flick that doesn't rely on animal cruelty to pad out its running time, and that has the good sense not to take itself remotely seriously.
Ian McCulloch doesn't really bother varying his performance from the one he gave in Zombie Flesheaters (his character is even called Peter again) - he just stands around looking worried, which is fair enough, since Donald O'Brien's scene-chewing portrayal of Dr Obrero conquers all before it. Meanwhile, New York Ripper star Alexandra Delli Colli finds several opportunities to take her clothes off, and gets an all-over cannibal paint job as a reward.
As for the zombies, four of 'em hardly makes a holocaust, but at least some effort has been made to make them look sort-of scary, in a primary school papier-maché sorta way. There's a droning synthesiser score (replaced with an even more annoying one in the American version) and plenty of hopelessly staged suspense sequences. The best lines come courtesy of mad Dr Obrero: "Patient's screams disturbing me... performed removal of vocal chords," after taking a pair of scissors to the throat of a terrified victim, and best of all: "You nearly succeeded in ruining my life's work! I could easily kill you now. But I'm determined to have your brain!" Top stuff.
Aka: Zombi Holocaust, Dr Butcher MD, Island of the Last Zombies
Italian director who over a 40-year career dabbled in most genres – like many of his fellow countrymen, his film-making choices were informed by whatever was popular in Hollywood at the time, from historical epics to westerns, sex comedies to action. Girolami frequently used the pseudonym Frank Martin for international releases, and is best known by horror fans for his hilarious 1979 gorefest Zombie Holocaust. Father of the equally prolific Enzo G. Castellari, and a European boxing champion in his pre-film career.