Written by: Giuseppe Rijitano on August 12th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1980
Director: Marino Girolami
Writers: Fabrizio De Angelis, Romano Scandariato
Cast: Ian McCulloch, Alexandra Delli Colli, Sherry Buchanan, Peter O’Neal, Donald O’Brien
BluRay released: July 26th, 2016
Approximate running times: 82 minutes (Doctor Butcher M.D.), 89 Minutes (Zombie Holocaust)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Doctor Butcher M.D. / Zombie Holocaust)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English (Doctor Butcher M.D. / Zombie Holocaust), LPCM Mono English (Doctor Butcher M.D.), LPCM Mono Italian (Zombie Holocaust)
BluRay Release: Severin Films
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $39.95
There’s something strange going on in a New York City hospital (and I’m not talking about the fact that it’s entirely populated by dubbed Italian actors) someone is stealing body parts from corpses. The docs in charge are trying to keep it all quiet for the reputation of the hospital but when a living patient’s heart is torn out of his chest by the unknown psycho, well no, they still hush it up actually. They do set in motion a cunning sting operation however that results in the capture of the nutter, one of their South-American-looking hospital porters, caught red handed about to take a bite out of a tasty human heart. Unfortunately, before they can ask him any questions he takes a running jump through a closed fifth floor window. His last words;“Keto….commanded me”.
Before you can say ‘paid vacation anyone?’ Anthropologist Lori Ridgway (Alexandra Delli Colli) has recognized Keto as the name of an island in the south pacific – where we really must go to investigate further! So with fellow expert Dr. Peter Chandler (Ian McCulloch), his assistant George (Peter O’Neal) and intrepid reporter Susan (Sherry Buchanan) in tow they all set off to meet the cannibals. Joining up with Dr. Obrero (Donald O’Brien) near Keto they set off into the heart of darkness and it’s really not long at all before entrails are being chewed upon and severed limbs are flying about all over the place. That is until the appearance of strange looking zombies that even the local cannibals seem to be afraid of. Apparently someone is controlling these undead creatures, but who and why?
Zombie Holocaust is basically a mash-up of Fulci’s Zombi 2, Slave of The Cannibal God and some Deodato cannibal action thrown in for good measure. Yup that’s right, this is the inevitable merging of the zombie and cannibal genres that were so popular in Italian horror cinema at that time. Directed by Marino Girolami (father of Enzo G. Castellari) this is spectacularly low budget stuff, a supposed tropical island setting actually filmed just outside Rome near a beach with a couple of limp palm trees.
The effects range from the quite gory (boat propeller meets zombie’s face) to the extremely silly (dummy thrown out a window loses its arm when it hits the pavement). This film’s secret weapon though, saving it from complete disaster and elevating it to marvelous mediocrity, is Ian McCulloch (star of Fulci’s Zombi 2 but better known for his turn as Greg in classic post-apocalyptic 70’s UK TV series Survivors) hamming it up for all he’s worthwhile dressed like he’s on safari in Africa. And Alexandra Delli Colli’s frequent gratuitous stripping helped as well.
Note: The BluRay portion of this review was written by Michael Den Boer
Doctor Butcher M.D. and Zombie Holocaust each come on their own 50 GB dual layer BluRay and both film’s are presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Doctor Butcher M.D. for his release has been given a brand new 2k transfer that was sourced from negative elements from Aquarius Films vault. Though there are some minor instances of print debris they are never intrusive. Zombie Holocaust has also been given a brand new transfer and it was sourced from the film’s original negative. Both transfers have grain that looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression. And when it comes to things like image clarity, black levels and colors. All of these areas show a substantial amount of improvement when compared to previous releases.
It should be noted that for this release the film’s original title card has been restored and a scene that was presented as a deleted scene from the Shriek Show release has been put back into the film.
Doctor Butcher M.D. comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and LPCM mono mix also in English. The differences between these two audio mixes is minimal. Both of these audio mixes sound, clear and balanced.
also comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and LPCM mono mix in Italian (no English subtitles). Both audio mixes are comparable quality wise to the audio mixes included for Doctor Butcher M.D., with the main difference being that the Italian audio mix does not sound as robust as the English audio mixes included with this release.
Extras for this release are spread over two discs.
Extras on disc one include, two video promo’s and a trailer for Doctor Butcher M.D. (2 minutes 44 seconds), a text base essay titled Experiments with a Male Caucasian Brain (… and Other Memories of 42nd Street) written by Gary Hertz, a featurette titled Down on the Deuce (21 minutes 55 seconds), an interview with film disturber Terry Levine titled Butchery & Bollyhoo (31 minutes 36 seconds), an interview with Gore Gazette editor Rick Sullivan titled The Butcher Mobile (12 minutes 33 seconds), an interview with editor Jim Markovic titled Cutting Doctor Butcher (10 minutes 12 seconds) and a segment from an unfinished anthology film titled Tales That Will Rip You Apart (8 minutes 7 seconds).
The extra titled Down on the Deuce is a nostalgic tour of 42nd street with filmmaker Roy Frumkes and Temple of Shlock’s Chris Poggiali.
Topics discussed in the interview with Terry Levine include, how he got into the film distribution, Aquarius Pictures, 42nd Street and various films that he distributed / produced.
Topics discussed in the interview with Rick Sullivan include, Gore Gazette and other zines, Doctor Butcher M.D. and his involvement in promoting the film.
The extra footage from Tales That Will Rip You Apart also comes with Roy Frumkes who directed it and gives some background info about the unfinished project.
Extras on disc two include, English (4 minutes 14 seconds) and German (3 minutes 16 seconds) language trailers for Zombie Holocaust, actor Ian McCulloch singing Down by the River (2 minutes 56 seconds), a featurette titled New York filming locations: Then vs. Now (3 minutes 2 seconds), an interview with Ian McCulloch titled Voodoo Man (8 minutes 10 seconds), an interview with FX Master Rosario Prestopino titled Blood of the Zombies (23 minutes 3 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), a featurette titled Enzo on Mario – Enzo G. Castellari remembers his father / director Marino Girolami (7 minutes 42 seconds), an interview with actress Sherry Buchanan titled Sherry Holocaust (24 minutes 2 seconds), an interview with FX Artist Maurizio Trani titled Neurosurgery Italian Style (4 minutes 33 seconds) and an option to watch Zombie Holocaust in Italian with no English subtitles.
Topics discussed in the interview with Ian McCulloch include, he starts off by saying that he started at the top as an actor and worked his way to the bottom, early success on British television, his first feature film The Ghoul, working with Freddie Francis, the trio of Italian films he starred in – Zombie 2, Zombie Holocaust and Contamination, surprised by these three films cult followings, working with Marino Girolami and his thoughts about the cast from Zombie Holocaust.
Topics discussed in the interview with Rosario Prestopino include, his big break into FX Zombie 2, Zombie Holocaust, Marino Girolami, the cast, locations featured in the film, Italian cinema and cannibalizing whatever is popular at the time, the decline of Italian cinema and all the special effects from Zombie Holocaust are discussed in depth.
Topics discussed in the interview with Sherry Buchanan include, how she was recruited while living in Mississippi to work on the film My Name is Nobody, how she decided to stay in Italy to pursue a career in Italy, her first acting role was the film What Have They Done to Your Daughters, Zombie Holocaust and how it was an enjoyable film expect for the scene where her character gets brain surgery.
Rounding out the extras for this release is a reversible cover art option and a Doctor Butcher M.D. barf Bag! Where many other films have yet to be released on Blu-Ray. This marks the third time that Zombie Holocaust has made its way to Blu-Ray and it is safe to say that the third time’s the charm. Overall Severin Films have gone above and beyond with their definitive release for Zombie Holocaust, highly recommended.
Note: This film is also being released by Severin Films on DVD.