I'm kinda partial to zombie flicks so my views on them should be taken with that in mind. For some, a film like Nightmare City would be considered absolute crap, while I had great fun with it, and the same can be said for everything from Burial Ground: Nights of Terror, Hell of the Living Dead, and Claudio Fragasso's silly (unintentional) laugh a minute gore-fest After Death.
A group of boaters and a trio of explorers are trapped on an island where, years before, it's entire population fell victim to some sort of voodoo curse that turned people into bloodthirsty savages. Jenny (Daly) had lived here as a child, witnessing the carnage firsthand. Armed with a small protective idol, given to her by her mother before the zombies killed her, Jenny is the group's only chance for survival as the survivors fight to stay alive until Jenny can close the door to hell.
Released as Zombie 4 by Shriek Show, After Death has little to do with Argento/Romero's Zombi, or even Fulci's Zombi 2, but actually has a lot more in common with Argento's Lamberto Bava collaboration Demons, in which, for some reason or another, regular folk begin running around and chomping up the neighborhood and drooling goo. After Death has the same sort of antagonists right down to the green phlegm and crazy facial features, as well as the ability to speak, run, and fight like Bruce Lee. I love how the horror genre gives critters like vampires and demons inate martial arts skills, as though Karate were something taught in the ninth circle of hell, and Fragasso's "zombies" are absolute badasses when it comes to fisticuffs. These guys drop from trees with the stealth of ninjas, fight with swords, sticks, and machine guns with deadly proficiency, and even find time to pose for a quick drool shot just to let their potential victims know that things are gonna get messy. While looking for any semblence of logic in an Italian zombie flick is as futile as telling a cat not to piss in your laundry basket, I still had to wonder why these high octane uber-zombies would occasionally revert to clumsily shambling about like Romero-type dead guys when they got close enough to inflict serious damage on our alleged heroes, but I guess even the dead need to rest. I also have to point out the inconsistancy of the zombies' look. Some have that Fulci ultra-decomposed thing going on, while others look like vampires, and others still look like extras from a Warrant video. This would make some sort of sense if the FX guys had the newly dead look, well, newly dead, but most of them pop up again looking like a plum left out in the sun while long dead zombies burst from the ground with a radiant glow and perfect hair. Once again, I have to stress that logic is not this genres strong suit.
The FX work on After Death is actually quite good, with some very graphic and gorey scenes that are amongst the best I've seen from this genre. Fragasso, who wrote Zombi 3, proves to be a pretty stylish director, with a flair for the fog machine and colored lights that pretty much define late 80's Euro-Shock flicks. While porn star Stryker and pretty nice gal Daly are strictly community theater level actors, the real reason we tune in to these flicks is to see how gruesomely bad actors can die, and Fragasso doesn't dissappoint.
The DVD from Shriek Show is presented in a flawless widescreen transfer that is very colorful and vibrant. The disc features some interview material with Fragasso, Stryker and Daly, as well as trailers and a gallery of images from the film's production and marketing.
It's tough to recommend After Death as anything more than a guilty pleasure, but Zombie flick fanatics will find much to enjoy here, and for them this film rates an easy 4 skulls, however fans of "intelligent" horror, tread cautiously because there's not a whole lot here to sink your teeth into.