Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 21st, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1979
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Elisa Briganti, Dardano Sacchetti
Cast: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver, Auretta Gay, Stefania D’Amario, Olga Karlatos
BluRay released: October 25th, 2011
Approximate running times: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: 7.1 DTS-HD English, 7.1 DTS-HD Italian, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX English, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX Italian, Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono Italian
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Português, Deutsch, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $39.98
Synopsis: When an abandoned ship is found in the New York harbor the local police show up to investigate and they are shocked to find that the living dead are all that’s left on board. Anne Bowles (Tisa Farrow), hasn’t heard from her father in months and the last she heard of him was that he was on a remote island called Matoul. Reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch), has been assigned by Gotham newspaper to investigate the bizarre homicide that took place on the derelict boat found in the New York harbor. Anne and Peter join forces as they set off to find her father and the truth about the living dead found on the boat in the harbor. They set off for Matoul and they run into a vacationing couple on a boat Brian (Al Cliver), and Susan (Auretta Gay), who come along for the ride. They encounter Dr. Menard (Richard Johnson), once they arrive on the island and it doesn’t take long before all hell breaks loose.
Zombie was written by Dardano Sacchetti as an action/adventure thriller before George Romero’s Dawn of The Dead was released in Italy. Dario Argento would re-cut Dawn of The Dead for Italian audiences and rename it Zombi. The success of Zombi in Italy Dardano Sacchetti’s script would be reworked by Elisa Briganti to more resemble Romero’s movie making Zombie (Zombi 2) a sequel in name only.
Lucio Fulci has always been able to create tension and atmosphere in his films creating nightmarish visions on minuscule budgets. Zombie isn’t filled with great performances, but then most of Lucio Fulci’s work from the late 1970’s on isn’t about the actors as much it is about using the actors as objects to achieve his vision. Zombie is filled with some of Lucio Fulci’s goriest set pieces included the eyeball being forced on a splinter sequence. Sergio Salvati who has worked as cinematographer on ten Lucio Fulci films and on Zombie he serves up a visual feast as he uses every inch of the frame to capture all the carnage. Through the years Lucio Fulci’s Zombie has built up quite the reputation making it a fan favorite and one of the zombie genre’s all time classics.
Zombie comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Colors have never look as vibrant as they do for this transfer, also black and contrast levels look consistently strong throughout. Details generally look crisp and there are no problems with compression. It should be noted that though grain is evident throughout, there are a handful of moments in which its look likes some DNR has been applied to the image.
This release comes with six audio options, a 7.1 DTS-HD mix in English, a 7.1 DTS-HD mix in Italian, a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX mix in English, a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX mix in Italian, a Dolby Digital Mono mix in English and a Dolby Digital Mono mix in Italian. There are a multitude of audio options to choose from and all of the them are in very good shape and for purists the original mono mixes have been included. New to this release are a pair of 7.1 DTS-HD mixes in English and Italian respectively. Channel separation of these two mixes is extremely good and the lower end frequencies are also well represented. This release comes with ten subtitle options, English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Português, Deutsch, Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Thai.
Extras for this release are spread over two discs.
Extras on disc one include a brief intro before with film with filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, a poster & still gallery, four radio spots, two T.V. spots and two trailers, international trailer (3 minutes 45 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and U.S. trailer (1 minutes 33 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and a audio commentary with actor Ian McCulloch and Diabolik magazine editor Jay Slater. Outside of few moments of dead silence, this is actually a pretty good audio commentary that provides a lot interesting information about this film.
Extras on disc two (25 GB Blu-Ray) include eight featurettes, ‘Zombie Wasteland’ – interviews with actors Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson and Al Cliver and actor / stuntman Ottaviano Dell’Acqua (22 minutes 19 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in English & Italian with English subtitles), ‘Flesh Eaters on Film’ - interview with producer Fabrizio De Angelis (9 minutes 39 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles), ‘Deadtime Stories’ – interviews with co-screenwriters Elisa Briganti and Dardano Sacchetti (14 minutes 30 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles), ‘World of the Dead’ – interviews with cinematographer Sergio Salvati and production / costume designer Walter Patriarca (16 minutes 29 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles), ‘Zombie Italiano’ – interviews with special make-up artists Gianetto De Rossi and Maurizio Trani and special make-up artist Gino De Rossi (16 minutes 34 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles), ‘Notes on a Headstone’ – interview with composer Fabio Frizzi (7 minutes 25 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles), ‘All in the Family’ -interview with Lucio Fulci’s daughter Antonella (6 minutes 8 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles) and ‘Zombie Lover’ – Guillermo Del Toro shares his thoughts on Zombie (9 minutes 37 seconds – anamorphic widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles).
Topics discussed in these eight featurettes include, the lasting legacy / popularity of Zombie, make-up and special effects – the shark and the eye ball scenes, what is was like to work in Italian cinema in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, guerilla style filmmaking – like how they were able to steal the shot on the zombies crossing over the bridge, the origins of the screenplay – including a once proposed western / zombie hybrid, how Lucio Fulci became involved with this film, how this film changed Italian horror films, production related topics like – the visual look of the film, the sets and creating a new zombie, audience reaction to the film, the score and all the participants discuss what it was like to collaborator with Lucio Fulci. The interview with Antonella Fulci is well balanced discussion about who Lucio Fulci was in his personal life and professional life, while the interview with Guillermo Del Toro is nothing more than a super fan discussing how he became of a fan of this film.
In all there is a lot of ground covered in these eight featurettes, which were all put together by Red Shirt Pictures, who are without a doubt the best company currently working on special features for Cult movie releases. Overall Blue Underground gives Zombie its strongest home video release to date.
Note: Blue Underground are also releasing Zombie on DVD.