Written by: George Pacheco on February 19th, 2015
Theatrical Release Dates: Italy, 2007
Director: Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn)
Writers: Antonio Tentori, Giovanni Paolucci
Cast: Yvette Yzon, Alvin Anson, Paul Holme
DVD Release Date: February 10th, 2015
Approximate Running Time: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: Intervision / Severin Films
Region Encoding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Zombies: The Beginning serves as a direct sequel of sorts of director Bruno Mattei’s prior film Island of the Living Dead-being released the same year in 2007-while also sadly capping Mattei’s career as the final flick in what would be a truly unique career in the world of Italian exploitation.
The film takes place immediately after the events of Island of the Living Dead, detailing the resuscitation attempts of a rescue crew for the sole survivor of an island zombie massacre, Dr. Sharon Dimao, who is haunted by memories of the ghouls who prowled and preyed upon her friends. It’s after Sharon’s recovery that she falls in with the Tyler Corporation and a group of muscle-bound, armed to the teeth marines, who are off to investigate another zombie outbreak, and save any survivors.
If this plot line sounds familiar, it’s because Bruno Mattei, his producer Giovanni Paolucci and screenwriter Antonio Tentori have ripped off wholesale the entire script for James Cameron’s Aliens-almost down to the very letter-with a slight dash of Resident Evil for good measure. Replacing facehuggers and xenomorphs for vampyric zombies is the only real difference between the two films here, although Zombies: The Beginning does provide plenty of fun for the indiscriminating horror fan who doesn’t mind terrible dubbing and amateur performances balancing out against some surprisingly grisly practical effects and effective CGI enhancement.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a Bruno Mattei flick without a great deal of heisted music, as well, and that is indeed the case here with Zombies: The Beginning, with one of the opening scenes utilizing Piero Montanari’s score for Umberto Lenzi’s Ghosthouse. That’s what we the audience have come to expect, however, and Zombies: The Beginning is a great reminder of that; a back-to-basics Italian gorefest without absolutely zero originality, but with plenty of heart, passion and DIY spirit. R.I.P., Bruno.
Severin presents Mattei’s final shot-on-video feature with a sharp and colorful picture indicative of their prior DVD releases from the director’s filmography. The film itself is a little dark in places, but nothing too troublesome for fans. Extras include the film’s original trailer, as well as an interview with screenwriter Antonio Tentori, making this a strong release overall from Severin Films.