I’ve mentioned this movie a number of times and even done some art based on the characters in it so I finally decided to sit down and write a bit more about it.
There’s no way around it, Worm eye is the quintessential zombie character for a lot of fanboys and is the defining character from this movie because of all the promotion featuring this image. It’s a brilliant piece of horrifying makeup effects that gets nastier the longer you look at it. As posters go it’s fairly uninspiring but it’s been around long enough to have become rather iconic.
The plot revolves around an island where the dead are rising. The island has all the trappings of great classic horror stories. A mad doctor, centuries old graves, spooked natives, legends of a curse and hysterical people who want nothing but to get of the island.
Throughout the movie shocking special effects and scenes of brutality really turn the stomach creating a rising sense of tension that makes you want to turn away even when you can’t. I’ve always felt a heightened sense of realism from 70’s horror films. In large part because of the natural lighting that was often used. The color saturation in a lot of films today sometimes seems unnaturally rich or so far altered that it’s hard to feel the realism.
It’s pretty easy to sum this up because it’s usually the same for Fulci films:
– bad music
– terrible dubbing
– unrealistic dialogue
In this case we got a really special zombie treat, a zombie fighting a shark which I’m sorry, I know it’s an iconic image but it’s just preposterous. Not too preposterous for me to do an illustration of it though!
In this case it’s the ugly business of rights and titles and how film promotion works.
In Italy, Dawn of the Dead was released under the title “Zombi.” So, when Italian director Lucio Fulci released his film Zombie 2 it was apparently a sequel to Dawn of the Dead. Although I like to think Fulci was merely making an artistic statement I think it’s a lot more likely he was riding the coat tails of another successful movie.
Just based on the title alone I can understand how the film could be sold as a sequel. Story wise it just doesn’t make any sense.
In Dawn of the Dead, we see that the world has been overrun by zombies. We know this because every single place we are shown is devoid of organized government, services, police, and military presence. It’s entirely possible that some places on the planet and other places in the US where the story takes place, were not overrun. However Romero’s storytelling is meant to suggest it. He furthers this idea when we see in Day of the Dead, the official Romero sequel, that Florida is gone the military has fallen apart.
If Zombi 2 were actually a sequel, taking place after Dawn of the Dead, then the ending of the movie wouldn’t make any sense. At the end of Zombi 2, we see that a boat has reached New York Harbor and the zombies are infecting people in large numbers with walkers streaming across the bridges into Manhattan. This being Manhattan completely untouched by any sort of disaster or emergency like say the dead rising from their graves and taking over the world. Actually what’s suggested here is that Zombi 2 is really a prequel to Dawn of the Dead which does the job of explaining in more detail how the dead came to rise from their graves. It’s suggested in Night of the Living Dead that radiation from a space probe returning from Venus is the cause for the dead returning but if we consider Fulci’s version, it suggests a totally different origin.
Even though it’s fun to think of these movies as being related honestly they just aren’t. Marketing and titles and the money making that goes with filmmaking sort of overtook the artistry of two great but totally separate zombie masterpieces.