Directors: Lucio Fulci. Claudio Fragasso, Bruno Mattei
Stars: Deran Sarafian, Beatrice Ring, Ottaviano Dell’Acqua
When a terrorist’s body, infected with a stolen chemical, is recovered by the US military, the corpse is cremated, unintentionally releasing the virus/bacteria into the atmosphere over a small island. Soon the infected populace mutate into flesh-hungry zombies, and a trio of soldiers on leave must team up with a group of tourists and board themselves up in an abandoned hotel as they try to fend off the agile and aggressive living dead.
Right, first things first, I need you to look above and revel in what could be the greatest directorial trio ever to grace the glorious world of Schlock cinema in one film. Fulci is pretty much the master of 80’s Italian gore films, and with the makers of “Rats: Night of Terror” along side to back him up on this zombie project, what could possibly go wrong? Everything, and that’s the point, that’s the reason we love them. I’m expecting to see gory effects that vary in quality, absolutely horendously dubbed dialogue, and continuity errors galore, and I’m going to have a great time doing so. Even Fulci was pretty miffed with the final result, but sorry Lucio, how the hell did you think it would turn out? As an added bonus, this film also stars Deran Sarafian who went on to direct such classics as “Death Warrant” (1990) and “Terminal Velocity” (1994).
Concentrate now. “Zombi 3” is the sequel to Fulci’s “Zombi 2” (1979), which is an unofficial Italian sequel to George A. Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” (1978), which was titled “Zombi” in Italy. “Zombi 2” was retitled “Zombie Flesh Eaters” in the UK as there was no such film as Zombi, and so this film,” Zombi 3″, became known as “Zombie Flesh Eaters 2” over here as both it and “Zombi Flesh Eaters” (Zombi 2) are the only two films in the whole zombie franchise that are actually meant to be in anyway related. Now if you found any of that confusing, then you should be thankful that that’s where I’m going to end this explaination on the Zombi franchise, as it only gets more dumbfounding. So on with the show.
We’re shoved stright into a lab where there’s a dead body that looks like Yul Brynner in some kind of tank thing, and there’s a doctor, Dr. Holder, and a nurse standing over him. Holder injects a drug called “Death One” into Yul and then starts complaining because nothings happening. About two seconds later something happens, Yul starts spitting blood everywhere before smashing through the tank. We see Dr. Holder and the nurse screaming, and just as I’m expecting to see the first couple of kills of the film, we cut to Holder who’s outside the room talking on the phone. There’s no time to wonder about what might have happened to Yul as the complex storyline keeps unfolding. Dr. Holder is talking to the military and it looks like “Death One” is ready for them to come and collect.
The military soon arive by helicopter, and Holder brings out Death One in a box for them to take away, and probably destroy a small town with it or something, but somehow a group of terrorists show up in a van and there’s a shoot out, before one of them runs over to Holder, rifle whips him in the face, and runs off into the woods with the box. The army guys chase him on foot and in the helicopter, and the chopper is soon on his case shooting at him. Eventually the terrorist drops the box, and as he tries to pick it back up, he gets a load of Death One all over his hand, so he just leaves it and legs it. The helicopter gives up their pursuit at this point, I’m not sure why.
After a short scene where the main army boss guy, General Morton, and Dr. Holder discuss how the contaminated man must be found, we see him in a hotel room where he’s not looking too healthy, as he has green crap all over his face and hands, so he cuts off one of them with a massive knife. It might be a bit late for that, mate. One of the waiters in the hotel, who’s carrying a tray of glasses, is being generally clumsy and manages to collide with a maid as she’s coming out of one of the rooms. He drops the tray and the glasses smash, and as he trys to pick up the debris, he cuts his hand. Blaming the maid, he tells her to go and clean the new arrival’s room because it basically stinks. She does this and gets killed because he’s turned into a zombie.
The army soon turn up at the hotel in hazmat suits, evacuating it room by room. We see that the waiter who cut his hand has somehow become contaminated even though he never had any contact with the zombie since his little accident, I’m just going to add this to the “I don’t know why” list. Eventually they find the zombie’s body and they bring it back to the headquarters for it to be cremated. This is one of my favourite scenes in the film because the two soldiers that slide the body into the furnace are played by none other than Mattei and Fragasso themselves, this probably shouldn’t make me feel as happy as it does. Holder and the nurse immediately run in saying that cremating the body could contaminate the whole area, which it obviously does, but Morton’s having none of it.
We now meet up with one of the film’s more entertaining characters, a DJ called Blue Heart, who seems to be obsessed with pollution, and he talks about it as much as he can between the generic Italian synth pop records he plays. As he puts on his next ditty, we hear it coming from the speakers of a portable stereo held by Roger (Dell’Acqua), a soldier on leave who’s riding in a jeep with his fellow soldiers Ken (Sarafian) and Bo. These are our heroes and with such dialogue as “Cindy? Lindy? I don’t remember her name, but I sure remember her tits!”, we know we’re in good hands. Also, Bo is played by Alex McBride, the pseudonym of Italian actor Massimo Vanni who played Taurus in “Rats: Night of Terror”. I never thought I’d feel so much nerd based excitement for 80’s Italian horror films. The soldiers start following a coach loaded with five women and three men, because a couple of the ladies are hanging out of the windows teasing them.
Over to Patricia (Ring) who’s driving a sports car whilst her man companion, Glen, is complaining that Blue Heart is talking a bit too much about the environment. They soon come across a load of dead birds in the middle of the road so they get out to investigate. As they’re wondering what could have caused this, one of the birds flies up and beack butts Glen in the face, so Patricia gets him back in the car and she drives off to get help. Why oh why has nearly every film I’ve reviewed these past few days had to have some kind of mental bird related theme? Oh look, there’s more. The coach gets attacked by “Beaks: The Movie” so the soldiers get out to help them. One of the girls, Leah, gets quite badly injured so they decide to take her to a hospital.
Patricia pulls up to a petrol/gas station and it seems Glen’s face has gone all gammy and puss is seeping from the wound, so Patricia goes inside to get some water. It turns out that the place is abandoned, so in true horror style, she walks around slowly, shouting if there’s anybody here and occassionally bumping into stuff until eventually she’s attacked by a zombie. This is hilarious because as it tries to hit her with a machete, the film is sped up to about twice normal speed. The zombie soon hits a gas pump, causing a leak, which allows Patricia to burn it to death using a lighter before speeding away in the car. Meanwhile over at the army headquarters, it’s all kicking off as Holder and Morton are having another Death One based argument. There’s reports coming in that there’s a contamination cloud over the city, and more worrying reports about people going crazy and attacking others. Morton basically wants to wipe everybody out, but Holder says he’s working on an antidote.
The coach and the jeep pull up to the now abandoned hotel where the contaminated guy from ealier was staying, and the gang carry Leah, who’s starting to show the same symptoms as Glen, inside and lie her down on the floor. Ken hears a noise from upstairs so he investigates, and when he thinks there may be something strange lurking behind one of the doors, Roger distracts him by telling him he’s found a crate full of guns. I reckon they may come in handy. As the rest grab Leah and relocate to a room upstairs, Taurus, I mean Bo and one of the girls go for help in the jeep. As they reach a small town, the girl, who’s name I haven’t caught yet, asks why there’s no one around, and Bo replies that they’re all probably on a night out. It’s the middle of the day. It’s unsurprising that the very next thing that happens is the jeep breaks down.
The girl goes to look for water for the radiator around the town, and as she climbs a staircase there’s soon a zombie in not so hot pursuit, and when she comes to a window, instead of biting her face off, the zombie decides to push her out of it and she lands in a lake. Bo hears her cries for help and rushes to her rescue. He dives into the lake and fishes her out, but when he gets her back on dry land, it turns out her legs are missing and she’s instantly zombified, so he kicks her back in. What follows is two minutes of amazingness as zombies appear from all around him and he has to use all his army training to get out of town, at one point even diving back into the lake where the girl got her legs bit off, or cut off, or whatever happened. Eventually he makes it out and we hear Blue Heart warning his listeners about the zombie happenings as we see a load of hazmats taking out zombies. I can’t help but feel that Blue Heart’s all like, “I told you so” at this stage.
Bo makes it to the road just as Patricia’s driving by, so she picks him up and they head to the hospital with poor old Glen. Back at the hotel, one of the coach men and one of the coach women go into the kitchen to look for food. The man opens a fridge to find a disembodied head which literally flies out and bites him on the neck. This is the kind of scene that makes me feel kind of sorry for Lucio Fulci and understand where he’s coming from when he tried to pretend he had nothing to do with this film, because that was just bad in every way. It’s Citizen Kane to Fragasso however. Oh yeah, the girl got mauled too.
Patricia, Bo and Glen are still heading towards this hospital when Bo notices that they’re near the hotel, so he asks her to stop by there. Right, wanna hear some more terrible dialogue? Glen pipes up and says “I’m feeling better now, Patricia, but I’m thirsty… FOR YOUR BLOOD!” and proceeds to attack her. She stops the car on a bridge and jumps out really slow and lady like onto the road, but still manages to do her leg in. Bo and Glen have a fight, and Glen’s pretty handy for a zombie, but eventually Bo dispatches him. However, more zombies come and he has to fight them too. It’s all a bit much for Bo and he gets eaten to death, what a shame, he was by far my favourite character, I believe he’s the only one who’s actually done anything so far. Anyway, zombies appear from opposite sides of the bridge, so Patricia jumps off into the water below.
Ken and Roger are standing outside the hotel waiting for Bo’s return. They obviously haven’t noticed that two of their party have been eaten in the kitchen then? Ken says Bo’s probably screwing the girl he went off with, see, he doesn’t even know her name. They start to hear weird noises that we viewers know are zombies groaning, but nothing really comes of it. Meanwhile upstairs, Leah’s turned full zombie and she’s standing over one of the other girls, Nancy, who’s asleep. As she goes to eat her brain, Nancy wakes up just in time and rolls off the bed. They have a little scuffle before Leah jumps at Nancy, who moves out of the way, leaving her to fall out of the window and land right in front of Ken and Roger. As they run to her, the lights on the coach are turned on, and this immediately becomes more important than the fact a zombie’s just jumped out of the window. Patricia appears from the coach and warns them that there’s a horde of zombies on their way.
The gang immediately knock up a barricade in the doorway, but it’s absolute arse and when the zombies come it totally collapses with one push. Suddenly there’s zombies appearing from all angles and another one of the no names gets eaten. The rest make their way through the hotel as Roger burns the undead with the flamethrower he found, until they escape through a back exit and end up in the woods. So who’s left? Well there’s Ken, Roger, Patricia, Nancy and one of the coach guys is still somehow hanging in there, I’m sure at least one of the girls from the coach is unaccounted for, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t lose track of what was going on a long time ago. Roger hears a noise so he goes on ahead alone and ends up in a fist fight with a couple of zombies. He wins and finds some canoes near a river, so he and the others get in them and float off.
After another little spat between Holder and Morten about whether it would be better to find an antidote for the virus or kill every living thing in the whole city, we hear Blue Heart saying to his listeners that the worst is over and that he’s been told to tell everyone that if they see the heroic men in white hazmat suits, they should run towards them for safety. We hear all that over a montage of the hazmats going around shooting everything in sight. Our group are having a rest after the whole canoeing thing when the man who hasn’t been killed yet see’s a chicken and decides he’s going to try and catch it so they can eat it. He chases it for a while until he gets surrounded by the hazmats and they shoot him dead. Ken and Roger take out a few hazmats before escaping, so one of them sends a helicopter to hunt them down.
The foursome end up at some small village hospital, whether it’s the one Patricia was trying to reach before or not, I don’t know (care). They decide to split up into pairs and search the place, at this point you’d surely be thinking which girl goes with Ken and which with Roger, but absolutely astonishingly, the two trained soldiers go off in one direction, carrying their massive machine guns, while Nancy, armed only with a short spade and basically carrying the injured Patricia, go off in the other. They enter a room to find a pregnant woman on one of the beds crying, like she may just be going into labour. Nancy gives Patricia the spade and tells her to get the others while she stays and looks after her. Shall I just cut to the chase and tell you how Nancy dies then? Well a zombie grabs her head from behind, pushing it towards the pregnant woman’s belly and a full size zombie hand bursts out Alien style and rips her face off. Wonderful.
A bunch of hazmats burst into the hospital and corner Ken and Roger, so they drop their guns. When they’re told to come outside, they decline and instead, start punching the hazmat guys in the face, the hazmat guys holding the guns but not shooting at any point that is. Eventually they pick their guns up again and kill them all. Meanwhile, Patricia gets zombie grabbed and dragged into a room. Surely this film has baffled me enough by now, but no, because the zombie in question turns out to be Glen, who’s somehow tracked her to the hospital. Glen put up a pretty good fight against Bo earlier, but here he’s just useless and Patricia cuts his head off with the spade in no time. It’s enough to make you wonder what the point was of reintroducing Glen at all.
After Ken and Roger find Patricia and discover Nancy’s fate, they all make their way outside, but of course, they become surrounded by zombies. Soon enough however, they spot a helicoper, so they make a break for it. Ken and Patricia get in and he starts the engine as Roger covers them, but he runs out of ammo and starts swinging his gun at zombie faces. As Ken starts flying off, Roger runs and grabs on to the landing skids, Lee Majors style, but would you credit it? there’s some hay just under the helicopter and there were zombies hiding under it all this time. I give up. The zombies grab Roger and pull him down, but as a load of hazmats approach, he manages to fight all the zombies off and run towards them. Guess what happens next. Yeah, they shoot him to deathin a scene reminiscent of a crap Platoon. As Roger flies off, Patricia says she hopes everything will be alright and turns the radio on. Cut to the Blue Heart studio where he’s basically saying everything’s just dandy now, but then he turns around and we see he’s a zombie. Schlock!!!
Blue Heart plays a cheesy 80’s record, which accompanies the end credits and with that, this film is no more. So, well, that was something else, the whole thing is just so entertaining for so many reasons, mostly the wrong ones, but there always seems to be something happening. If I was responsible for this film, I’d embrace it and be proud. I don’t really know what Fulci wanted this to be when he was in the pre-production stage, but at the end of the day, he’s hardly David Lean now is he? It wasn’t exactly going to win any awards, it’s a film about a chemical that turns people into zombies as written by Claudio Fragasso and his missus, the team responsible for Troll 2. This is one of those honest attempts to make a serious film, which probably had some kind of message behind it somewhere, but it somehow gets frigged up royally in almost every aspect of the process, and that kids, is why I love Zombi 3 (Zombie Flesh Eaters 2). Cheers.