After Dario Argento and George Romero’s Zombi (the Italian version of Dawn of the Dead) proved to be an international hit, Lucio Fulci looked to capitalize on that film’s success with Zombi 2 (aka; Zombie). One of my favorite Fulci flicks (City of the Living Dead still claims the top spot for me), Zombie is the film that introduced us to what is now affectionately known as "The Fulci Zombie. Instead of the mottled blue-yet-decidedly human looking protagonists of Romero’s early films, Fulci’s undead were a rotting abomination; oozing with all manner of goo, caked with layers maggots and oatmeal-like mush, and looking every bit as repulsive as their eating habits. While Romero and Argento’s film was steeped in social commentary, Fulci’s take on the genre was pure, unadulterated gross-out; an unapologetically gory, oftentimes absurb, and gloriously entertaining film that earned the director legions of fans and cemented his status as a true horror icon.
When a derelict sailboat floats into New York harbor, the "Coast Guard" (two off-duty NYPD officers who showed up to the set in their actual uniforms!) boards the vessel and are attacked by a bloated zombie. When the investigation reveals that the owner of the boat had gone missing, owner's daughter Ann (Farrow) and reporter Peter West (McCulloch) charter a boat of their own to investigate the last known residence of Ann's father; an island called Matul. When they arrive, they discover that Matul has been ravaged by a plague that not only kills its victims; it brings their corpses back to stalk the Earth in search of the flesh of the living!
Zombie is Fulci's answer to Argento and Romero's Zombi and was marketed as Zombi 2 in its native Italy. While not as socially relevant as its predecessor, Zombie does pack quite a punch with top notch make-up and gore effects that outshine any "living dead" film to come before, and a pretty cohesive story that, voodoo elements notwithstanding, can be viewed as a sort of micro-chapter in the Dead universe. Of course, I don't recall any zombies fighting sharks in Romero's films, but, then again, Fulci only borrowed concepts; how he fleshed them out was another thing entirely.
Filled with enough eyeball-popping, head-crushing, and intestine-gnawing grue to satisfy the most bloodthirsty of horror hounds, Blue Underground have given this film the deluxe treatment on Blu-ray in a set that what will surely be considered the definitive edition of this classic for the foreseeable future.
Blue Underground presents Zombie in a gorgeous 2.35:1 2k HD transfer culled from its original camera negative, and restored under the watchful eye of Cinematographer Sergio Salvati. The quality of the image is nothing short of astounding, with bold, vibrant colors, amazing depth and clarity, and sumptuous detail. This is, by far, the best transfer offered by Blue Underground yet, and, considering who we’re talking about, that’s saying something. Fans of the film who’ve owned previous DVD releases (including Blue Underground’s exemplary 2004 special edition) will immediately notice a drastic improvement in print quality, as the image has been painstakingly restored to near pristine condition, but done with great care as to avoid any signs of obvious digital tinkering, and still retaining a nice filmic grain.
The 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio track sounds superb, with rich, satisfying lows, crisp dialogue, and an impressive surround mix. Also included is the film’s original mono track. Both are available in English and Italian, with myriad subtitle options ranging from English to Thai!
Presented on two Blu-ray discs, Blue Underground have amassed an enormous collection of extras, with the feature disc including an audio Commentary with Star Ian McCulloch and Diabolik Magazine Editor Jason J. Slater, an introduction by Guillermo Del Toro (HD), radio spots, television commercials, theatrical trailers (HD), and a posters and stills gallery (HD).
Disc Two is where the bulk of the goodies are on offer, all new, and all in HD, including;
Zombie Wasteland - Interviews with Stars Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson & Al Cliver, and Actor/Stuntman Ottaviano Dell'Acqua
Flesh Eaters on Film - Interview with Co-Producer Fabrizio De Angelis
Deadtime Stories - Interviews with Co-Writers Elisa Briganti and (Uncredited) Dardano Sacchetti
World of the Dead - Interviews with Cinematographer Sergio Salvati and Production & Costume Designer Walter Patriarca
Zombi Italiano - Interviews with Special Make-Up Effects Artists Gianetto De Rossi & Maurizio Trani and Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi
Notes on a Headstone - Interview with Composer Fabio Frizzi
All in the Family - Interview with Antonella Fulci
Zombie Lover - An interview with Guillermo Del Toro in which he discusses the film
Lucio Fulci’s Zombie is a classic that belongs in every horror aficionado’s collection. It's one of those inherently watchable films that I constantly find myself turning to when I'm in the mood for a nice old school undead gross out, and this new Blu-ray release from Blue Underground represents the film at its very best, not only in terms of sight and sound, but in the sheer volume of bonus features that will entertain fans for hours. Zombie is easily amongst the best Blu-ray releases of 2011, and earns my highest possible recommendation!