An opening shot of a man shooting a gun at what appears to be a body tied up in a canvas bag and a single line of dialog – “The boat can leave now, tell the crew” is the only clue Lucio Fulci provides you before the title of Zombie. Next we know, that boat is sailing aimlessly into the New York harbor, where some Coast Guard officers find what’s left of the crew – a lone decaying zombie – and it’s got a hankerin’ for some fresh flesh.
Since a member of the Coast Guard was killed, they have a few questions for the owner of the boat, and since that owner can’t be found, they get owner’s next of kin, Anne Bowles. She claims that the last she’d heard from her father (the owner of the boat) he was on his way to the Antilles islands to visit with some friends. She goes to investigate on the boat and runs into a reporter, Peter West (Ian McCulloch), where they discover a letter from her father, which tells how he contracted a disease and is under being held captive on an island. Once West tells his boss about the letter, he send both West and Bowles to St. Thomas to investigate the story. Once there, they join up with two other Americans, Susan Barrett and Brian Hull (played by old IB favorite Al Cliver) going on an island tour and become unwilling participants in the investigation when they find out the island that they want to visit is Matool, an island the natives say is cursed.
The foursome head out to Matool, and on their way Susan wants to take a swim to get some photos while diving. Underwater, she has a topless encounter with a zombie. She’s able to get away, and this leads into the infamous zombie vs. shark scene that just about anyone on the internet has probably seen by now. Needless to say, when Susan comes up and tells about her zombie encounter, Bowles and West know they’re headed in the right direction.
After some complications with the boat, Bowles, West, Barrett and Hull eventually make it to Matool, and they arrive to an island in turmoil. When the four meet Dr. Menard, the natives are literally restless because of his work. The natives were coming down with a mysterious illness that is not only killing them, but then allowing the dead to walk again. The natives believe it’s voodoo, but Dr. Menard is determined to find a natural explanation for the illness, and to come out with a cure. Unfortunately for him, he’s running out of time, and now that Anne Bowles and the group know what happened to Anne’s father, they’ve got to find a way out before it’s too late.
Now you may wonder why this movie is called Zombi 2… what happened to Zombi? Well, George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” was actually called Zombi in Italy, where this movie was originally released. While this movie is not a direct sequel, it is a kind of spiritual sequel, and it helped revitalize Lucio Fulci’s horror film career.
Zombi isn’t scary by current standards, but it’s still spits out a high level of gory effects, from eyeball impalement, to zombies biting throats out, and the actual zombies themselves. Some of the zombies look better than others, but overall they’re very well done. With all the CG and gore in today’s movies, it’s refreshing to watch a suspenseful film like this with top notch old fashioned special effects that are still rather convincing.
From the mysterious beginnings to the “out in a blaze of glory” ending, Lucio Fulci and crew do a tremendous job. While not the scariest zombie film I’ve seen (that probably still goes to the original “Night of the Living Dead“), it certainly has enough suspense and gore to satisfy any horror fan, even over 30 years after it’s original release – and that can’t be said of most horror films. Zombie (aka Zombi 2) earns 4 zombies getting firebombed to hell out of 5.
Here’s that world infamous Zombie Vs. Shark moment!