George A. Romero's groundbreaking Dead series birthed the modern zombie subgenre, with its second installment, "Dawn of the Dead," gaining immense popularity. What many might not know is that this cult classic had an unofficial Italian sequel that not only spawned its own massive franchise but also pushed the boundaries of gore and grime in horror cinema.
Italian filmmaker Lucio Fulci, an ardent fan of Romero's work, crafted his own follow-up, aptly named "Zombi 2" (though the simplicity of that title belies the outrageousness to come). Little did Fulci know that he was about to create a blood-soaked sensation that would leave an indelible mark on the zombie movie landscape.
Released in 1979, one year after Romero's "Dawn of the Dead," "Zombi 2" deviates from its predecessor's satirical elements and embraces an unapologetic, brutal approach. Set on a cursed Caribbean island, the film introduces decaying undead creatures rising from their graves to feast upon the local residents.
While not a direct sequel to "Dawn," "Zombi 2" draws inspiration from various subgenres of zombie tales, combining the supernatural aspects of voodoo-based classics like "White Zombie" and "I Walked with a Zombie" with the gritty sensibilities of '70s filmmaking.
The result is a grindhouse masterpiece that revels in its unrelenting violence and shockingly graphic imagery.
Audacious Carnage: Fulci's Gruesome "Zombi 2"
Fulci's "Zombi 2" stands as one of the bloodiest and most audacious zombie movies ever made.
It seems as though Fulci saw the groundbreaking work of Romero and special effects maestro Tom Savini in "Dawn of the Dead" and decided to outdo them in terms of sheer repulsiveness. The film features gruesome throat-chomping scenes, decomposed corpses even more grotesque than anything seen in Romero's earlier films, eyeballs impaled by sharp wooden splinters, and even a showdown between a zombie and a shark.
"Zombi 2" shattered the boundaries of acceptability established by Romero's movies, enticing audiences to embrace the genre with newfound enthusiasm. While Romero's films invented the modern image of zombies and blended satire with horror, it was Fulci's audacious creation that pushed the limits of violence to their extreme.
Although "Zombi 2" lacks a robust narrative, it compensates with its technical prowess and stunning visuals. Despite its reputation for extreme gore, the film boasts beautiful cinematography captured on 35mm stock, showcasing vibrant and striking colors.
Furthermore, the tropical island setting offers a refreshing departure from the North American landscapes commonly associated with zombie films. Accompanying the visuals is a haunting synth score by Fabio Frizzi and Giorgio Tucci, blending exotic undertones with the eerie sounds reminiscent of Goblin's score for "Dawn of the Dead." The titling of the "Zombi" series adds yet another layer of peculiarity to this already twisted saga.
"Zombi 2" underwent numerous title changes upon release, including "The Island of the Living Dead," "Zombie Flesh Eaters" in the UK, and "Zombie" in the United States. Ironically, "Dawn of the Dead" was released in Italy as "Zombi," giving birth to an unofficial sequel titled "Zombi 2" (or "Dawn of the Dead 2"), which, in turn, became "Zombie" in most markets. This convoluted nomenclature continued with "Zombi 3," which could be seen as "D