Written by: Giuseppe Rijitano on May 9th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, March 28th 1980
Director: Marino Girolami
Writers: Fabrizio De Angelis (writer), Marino Girolami (story), Romano Scandariato (screenplay)
Cast: Ian McCulloch, Alexandra Delli Colli, Sherry Buchanan, Peter O’Neal, Donald O’Brien, Dakar.
DVD released: May 21st, 2002
Approximate running time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Shriek Show
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
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.
Anamorphic transfer is cleaner and brighter than I’ve ever seen the film look before but there are still instances of heavy grain throughout. Audio is clean and, despite a little distortion/hiss here and there, it is for the most part clear.
Very nice selection of extras provided on this Shriek Show release –
A brilliantly snarky interview with special fx man Maurizio Trani in which he belittles his interviewer at every opportunity.
A deleted scene in which Lori falls into a ridiculously shallow trench and Peter goes one on one with a few natives – looks like it was shot in a back garden!
Footage from Roy Frumkes Tales That’ll Tear Your Heart Out; an unfinished 1977 horror anthology film that Frumkes sold 3 minutes of to the makers of Zombie Holocaust (for $300) so they could pad out the run-time and rename it Dr Butcher MD for the American market.
A 15 minute, frank and informative interview with Frumkes on the above subject.
Roy Frumkes’ personal photo gallery.
A US theatrical trailer (for the Dr Butcher MD cut which lies through it’s teeth about the film’s content) A German trailer (Zombies Unter Kannibalen, which ups the red contrast nicely) An image gallery featuring lots of poster art, VHS covers, etc And finally a clutch of Shriek Show trailers for Jungle Holocaust, Eaten Alive, Beyond The Darkness and Burial Ground.
Oh and lets not forget the rather good extensive liner notes (in which Chris Poggiali recounts his trip to see Dr Butcher at the Lyric on 42nd Street in the early 80’s) and the Shriek Show snazzy reversible cover art!