I’m not entirely sure how the zombie epidemic originates in the movie, but it has something to do with the natives on Mantool and is perhaps a direct result of their constant drumming. Regardless, at some point in time a group of people escape Mantool and naturally set sail for New York. They eat the shit out of a lot of canned goods and packaged goodies until one zombie (who may or may not have been fat beforehand) eats them all, hibernates in a closet, and is eventually awoken by an unsuspecting NYPD/French Navy cop searching the boat for survivors. Oh, and the boat does some phenomenal maneuvering for being manned by the undead, so I guess we really have to respect zombie seamanship.
After the initial scene, Peter North and a ginger named Anne decide to search for her missing father (owner of the zombie boat) and immediately embark for Mantool. Since the island is small and evidently uncharted, they meet up with a stoner named Brian and his scantily clad girlfriend, Susan, who happen to be vacationing in the area. The trip doesn’t get off to a great start and takes a turn for the worse after a pissed off great white shark, fresh from a skirmish with an underwater zombie, runs into the boat and severely damages the “drive train.”
Incapable of repairing the boat themselves, the group heads to shore on Mantool and meets up with Doctor Menard, the local white doctor, who relays most of the background information on the island, the zombie outbreak, and the demise of Anne’s father. The background is as follows: natives drum, people get sick, they are taken to the church/hospital/laboratory, they die, Dr Menard and his assistant wrap them in sheets and wait, the bodies reanimate, Dr Menard grimaces for a few seconds before shooting them in the head wild west gunfight style. This scenario has evidently played out numerous times prior to Anne & Co’s arrival, but it seems there are just too many zombies to handle now.
Menard sends the gange to visit his wife, Paola, while he attends to matters in the church. However, upon their arrival at the good doctor’s house, they witness a zombie blood orgy involving Paola’s mutilated body. Disgusted, they decide to head back to the church but get sidetracked after running into a tree. They do, however, have time to make out in an old cemetery, which has immediate and terrible consequences. Previous to this point, we are led to believe that the zombies have been the reanimated corpses of the recently deceased, but here the dead begin rising from the grave. Really old graves. Conquistador old. 1888.
The group, now minus Susan, makes it back to the church to make their final stand against the rapidly growing zombie horde, yet somehow manage to make it out the back door without setting themselves on fire. The doctor dies after being bitten in the face. Brian gets bit by his zombie girlfriend. Menard’s nurse stares at a zombie for a really long time, then dies. Peter and Anne escape to their boat to make their way back to New York. And all appears to be well until they turn the bridge-to-bridge radio to the local New York news station and learn that the city has been overrun by the living dead. The movie ends with zombies walking towards Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge, average mid-day bridge traffic below them.
Did the zombie in the coroner’s office morgue get a boner? Or was that just me?
These were perhaps the slowest moving zombies of all time, at least in any movie I’ve seen. But they did pack a pretty devastating coordinated spin move, which proved capable of knocking down the church’s reinforced door. Oh, and they moved pretty quickly when going in for a bite.
I’m certainly no medical expert, and will certainly defer to the Pig. But if you’ve been dead for a while, you’re probably not going to be doing a lot of bleeding. Or for that matter breathing. Although I did like the peeping-tom camera angles combined with the heavy breathing. It’s reassuring knowing that even the undead can appreciate a good boob scene.
Where were the natives? There were making a lot of noise but we never got to see them? Are they hideous? Hispanic? Were they drumming for or against the zombies? Zombie cadence?
Zombie vs shark: most amazing zombie scene ever? I think so. What was the zombie’s motivation? Jealousy? Hunger? Berserker rage? Boner? If a zombie will try to eat a shark, why would it not try to eat a goat? Or a donkee? I loved that the zombie was just hanging out in the reef waiting, just on the off chance that some babe worth eating would stroll through. I would be very interested to know how that scene was filmed. Question for the divers: if you have boobs, do you not need a BCD?
Peter West: although it’s not obvious until the final scene, you really must admire the man’s comb-over. There just aren’t enough movie headliner comb-overs these days. Bravo, Ian McCulluch.
Never make out in a cemetery. Ever. I’m not entirely sure that the attempted kiss was the direct cause of the dead rising from the grave, but it would make sense. And really, it’s just poor form. Don’t be that guy. Those were some remarkably well preserved zombies though, especially given the island’s climate And I must admit I lost a lot of respect for the conquistadors, those dudes were pretty fucking lazy with their grave digging. I mean, they could have at least dug down two feet. Sloppy.
If your dead girlfriend is staring at you with someone else’s blood dripping from her chin, feel free to bash her skull in.
Head shots. How many ineffectual body shots would you take before you’d get the message that only a head shot kills?
You will not win a staring contest with a zombie. Please do not attempt to do so.
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to own a gun that never needs to be reloaded and/or have unlimited ammunition. These people must have had the cheat code from Contra, because I don’t recall seeing a single reload. Oh, and if you have a bolt-action rifle, switch it to semi-automatic. It’s a lot more effective that way.
If you’ve chosen a wooden structure to make your final stand, consider dropping Molotov cocktails to the bottom of your weapon preferences.
Plot – 3.8
Plots are not typically the strongpoint of the zombie flick, and this one is no different. I think my plot synopsis pretty much covers this section.
Acting – 3.1
I watched it in Italian with English sub-titles, yet at times I felt like the actors were actually speaking English. At other times, they were definitely speaking Italian. So I have no idea what the hell was going on with that. Vai al diavolo. Overall, the non-zombie acting was pretty horrific. I would be interested to know if anyone besides Peter McCulloch ever acted again, and at least he was being held back by his comb-over. On the other hand, I thought the zombie acting was pretty good. They were emotionless and slow, lulling their victims into a false sense of security before striking quickly with their teeth. I could have used some more groaning though. And the scene of the zombies throwing themselves at the church doorway was quite comical. Why were they spinning so much? They looked like a pack of crocodiles. And if there was actually a guy dressed up like a zombie fighting a real shark… well, that’s just fucking awesome.
Gore – 5.0
It was 1980, so the special effects do no hold up completely to today’s standards. But based on the shark scene and Paola’s exenteration alone, this movie deserves a 5. The Paola meat banquet scene was also rather nice, with zombies feasting on her appendages like a Thanksgiving dinner. They seemed to be taking their time, savoring the taste, vice the feeding frenzies seen in most other zombie movies. These zombies were much more civil than Romero’s, at least amongst themselves. Additionally, there were several scenes Fulci had to cut out in order to release the film, yet it still managed to be a pretty gruesome gore flick. Include these scenes, and this is a certifiable 5 Severed Legs.
Kudos for the topless diving scene. That is the first of its kind I’ve viewed and I’m definitely a fan. Two sets of boobs, both smallish but nice. Both scenes were tastefully done, with excellent use of camera angles and well placed mirrors. I guess I would have liked to see Anne’s as well, and it could have easily been accomplished during the boat scene at the dock. I think the cop would have been more likely to let them go if she had shown some boobage. Then he could have gone back to his car and listened to some more rocking saxophone solos. But alas, she probably didn’t have to do it because she’s Mia Farrow’s sister.
Overall – 4.1
Overall a good zombie movie and while at first viewing I wouldn’t put Fulci on the same level as Romero, at least he didn’t make Diary of the Dead. Anyways, the plot was so-so, the acting was sub-par, but the gore was superb, especially given the 1979 film date. I know we haven’t ranked it yet, but I’d put this movie on equal terms with the original Dawn of the Dead. Zombierific.