Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 6th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, August 25th, 1979
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writer: Elisa Briganti, Dardano Sacchetti
Cast: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver
DVD released: August 3rd, 2004
Approximate running time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo Surround English, Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital 5.1 Italian, Dolby Digital Stereo Surround Italian, Dolby Digital Mono Italian
DVD Release: Shriek Show
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
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.
Many versions through the years have been released on Zombie / Zombi 2 on DVD and Blue Underground recently just released their own bare bones DVD for Zombie / Zombi 2. So the question everyone is wondering after nearly a year of delaying the DVD, how does the Shriek Show Zombie look? Zombie is in its aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is presented in anamorphic video and for the first time ever on DVD for this transfer the original negative was used. The colors come alive as they are bright and sharp with a tremendous amount of detail in every frame. The flesh tones look natural and even the darker scenes display more detail then ever before. The black levels are solid as grain is kept to a minimum.
This DVD offers six audio options English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital stereo surround, English Dolby Digital Mono, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital stereo surround and Italian Dolby Digital Mono. There are enough audio options here to please everyone and the new Dolby Digital 5.1 remixes maintain the ambience of the original Mono soundtrack. All the tracks are crisp and crystal clear as the soundtrack; dialog and effects are fuller and have never sounded better on home video. Included these Italian audio tracks so that we can finally hear some of the performers speaking in their own dialect was well worth there inclusion. I have seen many titles from Shriek Show and have owned several versions of Zombie through the years they have put a lot of tender loving care into this release of Zombie.
Disc one extras include an audio commentary with actor Ian McCulloch that has been ported over from Anchor Bays Zombie DVD. Outside of few moments of dead silence, this is actually a pretty good audio commentary that provides a lot interesting information about this film. Other extras include ‘Food for the Worms’, a featurette that runs about ten minutes that features the opening scene zombie Captain Haggerty. There is also a still gallery that includes over 100 different stills, posters, and video art. This gallery plays like a featurette instead like a traditional navigable still gallery and one last extra on disc one is the original English-language trailer for Zombie.
Disc two where the bulk of the extras are includes the 98 minute documentary ‘Building a Better Zombie’ and the documentary can be played as a whole or as individual segments. This extensive feature includes interviews from just about every major participant in the film’s production. Also discussed in this documentary are the similarities between Zombie and Dawn of the Dead. Shriek Show for this documentary ‘Building a Better Zombie’, has given this cult the red carpet treatment. Other extras include ‘Raising the Dead’, which is a six minute interview with the film’s costume designer. ‘An Evening with Dakar’, the actor who played Lucas in the film is the final featurette included on this massive special edition. Rounding out the extras is a Zombie Trailer Gallery that includes nine trailers from Shriek Show’s catalog.
Besides lavishing this DVD with a lot of extras Shriek Show doesn’t stop with the content on the DVD. The cover art retains the famous worm-eye zombie image we’re so familiar with and the keep case comes in a sturdy cardboard slipcover. Inside the keep case they have included a chapter insert, a booklet with imagery from Flesh for the Beast and last but not least they have included a fold-out reproduction of the original Zombie poster art signed by Lucio Fulci. It was a long wait for a Special edition DVD for Zombie and in the end Shriek Show’s Zombie DVD is a breathtaking release from a company that has had problems in the past. And while there may have been two versions of Zombie that have been released recently, it is Shriek Show’s Zombie release that is hands down the winner.