Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Missed Touchstones Week: Zombie

Okay, so not everyone has seen Lucio Fulci's Zombie (or, as it is sometimes confusingly known, Zombi 2). But I've reached the point in my movie-going career that it's frankly embarrassing that I haven't seen any Lucio Fulci. And it's time that changed.

First of all, the title. It was released in Italy in 1979 as Zombi 2 so it could pretend to be a sequel to Romero's Dawn of the Dead, which was called Zombi. In Italy. So when this movie came to the USA, they just bumped the number off the title and called it "Zombie". In 1988, Fulci made Zombi 3, but it's not as iconic as this movie and I don't want to deal with it right now.

It's kind of weird at this point in America's zombie-fascination to watch a 100% sincere zombie movie. There's no winking at the audience here. There's not even any assumption that everyone knows how zombies work. This is one of the movies that defined the genre. And I would like to point out that they don't eat brains here. They're only interested in the flesh of the living. And hopefully causing big gouts of bright red blood. The point is that it takes a long time for them to really make their presence known in this movie. This isn't one of your post-Zombie deals like Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland (or even World War Z) where you can jump right into the zombie hordes. One zombie is a terrifying and mysterious creature in this movie.

Also, this movie's zombies appear to actually be voodoo-related in some way, which is practically unique in zombie movies. The Romero zombies are really just ghouls, if you ask me. Even if he started calling them zombies in Dawn of the Dead (you remember, "Zombi"?).

One fun thing about this movie is that half of the cast is speaking Italian, and half are speaking English. Everyone's dubbed over anyway, but it's still a little weird to have only some of the characters' mouths match the sounds. Well, to be fair, none of the characters are exactly in sync, so it's actually distracting when someone does match up for a scene. You have to learn not to look at their lips.

Incidentally, I don't know why all the clips I've seen of this movie have been grainy and terrible. The DVD I was watching looked fantastic, even in the legendary Zombie-vs.-Shark scene. And of course it's full of iconic shots, although I personally prefer the eye-gouging scene from The Wizard of Gore. Um, the original, not the weird remake from a couple years ago.


Chris Rywalt said...

Did you actually see the weird remake of the The Wizard of Gore? I'm sure it was terrible, but between the Suicide Girls and Crispin Glover, how could it not be awesome?

Not too long ago I decided to fill in the gap in my horror movie experience and see a Fulci film. I picked L'aldila, also known as The Beyond because it's regarded as the pinnacle of Fulci's career. Also, Roger Ebert wrote a hilarious half-star review which I'd read several times (years ago I went through Ebert's site reading all of his zero- through two-star reviews). Glenn Erickson also reviewed it interestingly.

I put L'aldila on and managed to make it maybe a half-hour into it before I had to turn it off. The movie quite simply makes no sense. It's one non sequitur after another, most of them designed around extended shots of poorly-constructed wax models of people's faces dissolving under the assault of what I assume is hot water. It was aggressively stupid, and when I finally reached the repeated shot of the blind woman and her dog running out the door -- repeated shot being the main non sequitur here -- I gave up. I didn't want to follow along any more. The plumber's daughter is foamy red goop! Which gives her colored contact lenses! Just like the other woman! Who shows up in the hotel! Then runs away!

It was just too terrible.

Monty Ashley said...

I did see the Wizard of Gore remake. It was under the impression that mildly interesting visuals could cover up a complete lack of coherent story. Crispin Glover was ideal for the part. It wasn't anywhere near as entertaining as the Herschell Gordon Lewis one.

Chris Rywalt said...

H.G.'s was pretty fucking bad. I saw it on VHS back in high school. I played it on a double bill with Dr. Jekyll's Dungeon of Death. Between the two movies I was plunged into a pit of despair I'm not sure I ever recovered from.

As far as the new WoG, I remember reading about it while it was still under production, and then reading how disappointed the director was when it ended up going direct to DVD. I myself thought the naked Suicide Girls might make up for, well, a lot of shortcomings, but somehow didn't see it anyway.