Lucio Fulci's undead masterpiece Zombie rises from the Blu-ray grave for a second time courtesy of Blue Underground. This pseudo-prequel/sequel to Romero's seminal Dawn of the Dead is just as ooey gooey gory as it ever was with plenty of flesh-ripping, eye-gouging viscera to please zombie fans. This pancake-makeup zombie flick is a hell of a lot of fun if you love your horror excessively gory and very Italian. Blue Underground delivers one hell of a Round 2 Blu-ray release for Zombie with a transfer sourced from a fresh new 4K restoration that adds even more fleshy details to the show with dramatically improved black levels and depth. The cooler color temp may be a bit of a sticking point for some, but overall this is the best the film has ever looked. Add in a new DTS-HD MA mono mix alongside the aggressive 7.1 track with a complete array of new and archival bonus features and the film's original score, this 3-disc 40th Anniversary release of Zombie is Highly Recommended!
Click Here for a great review of the previous 2-Disc Ultimate Edition release of Zombie from Blue Underground!
"What is all this about the dead coming back to life again and... having to be killed a second time? I mean, what the hell's going on here?"
I know people who love Fulci's Zombie, and I know people who drag out get down - hate it. They don't like that it works as a sort of pseudo-prequel/sequel of Dawn of the Dead (depending on your country of origin). They hate the overly Italian feel with badly looped dialogue and outlandish sound effects. That eye-gouge sequence makes their stomach flip. The zombies are spawned from voodoo and look like they're covered in pancake batter. Take all those reasons to hate the movie and you have a list of many reasons for why I love this movie. That isn't to say that I put Zombie in the same league as Dawn of the Dead or Night of the Living Dead, I just enjoy it for what it brings to the show.
I've got a big soft spot for zombie movies and Zombie is just damn good entertainment value for my dollar. While Fulci never wanted it to tie to Dawn of the Dead and that marketing decision was made without his consent, the film lives on that way and in my opinion is better as a Bizarre-o World sequel or prequel. It adds a little extra layer of goofy fun that I find charming. You've got voodoo zombies, an underwater zombie battle with a half-naked scuba diver and a shark, the infamous eye-gouge sequence, the iconic worm-eye zombie, and then the final shot of an army of lumbering bloody zombies marching across the Brooklyn Bridge (with traffic still going underneath). In my book, it's a complete package.
More than the iconic zombie bits, I actually appreciate the plot - this zombie movie actually has one beyond the tried and true survivors hiding in a building trope! Tisa Farrow's Anne Bowles being aided by Ian McCulloch's reporter Peter West to help her find her missing father is a great setup for a zombie movie. The explanation of voodoo as the cause of zombies may be a bit daffy but I kinda dig the sort of Island of Dr. Moreau storyline of a mad doctor experimenting on the local people of an obscure Caribbean island and the plague of undead gets out of hand. Because of the opening Zombie attack on the boat in New York, the movie provides an explanation for the opening events of Dawn of the Dead. It's a fun alternate living dead universe that connects to Romero's movie without completely discounting NOLD or Day of the Dead.
Some folks feel this one is too silly for its own good, and while there are some good laughs to be had intentional or otherwise, Fulci's Zombie is still a good creepy time. The film moves at a brisk pace building dread as it goes along until our cast of characters are boxed in and forced to fight for their lives in an explosion of fire, bullets, and grotesque gore and viscera. It's pure guilty pleasure zombie gore fun that I throw on at least a couple times a year. Sometimes you just want to watch some Italian zombies!
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Zombie 40th Anniversary 3-Disc Limited Edition devours Blu-ray for the second time thanks to the HD voodoo of Blue Underground. Housed in a clear three-disc case, with reversible artwork and offered with three different lenticular slipcovers, the film is pressed on a Region-Free BD50 disc. Disc One is the feature film. Disc Two is the archival bonus features. Disc Three is the soundtrack CD. The disc loads directly to an animated main menu with traditional navigation options. Also included is a booklet containing stills from the film as well as an excellent essay by author Stephen Thrower.
Blue Underground digs up a brand new 2.40:1 transfer culled from a fresh 4K restoration for the 40th Anniversary of Zombie. While the results generally offer notable improvements over BU's previous disc from 2011 - no doubt this transfer will spark a measure of fan debate. Before we get to that, let us start with the indisputable positives. The image maintains a wonderfully natural film-like quality to it with stable and present film grain throughout without becoming thick or too intrusive. Detail levels also are a huge step up over the previous 2011 disc allowing fans to soak in all the pancake batter zombie makeup and the incredible gore effects.
That wood splinter never looked so foreboding! Even small facial hairs and beads of sweat stand out now where the previous release could look smeary and undefined. Black levels are also much stronger and inkier allowing for some wonderful depth to the image without crossing into crush territory. This is most notable towards the end of the film when the zombies mass and attack Dr. Menard's hospital. These dark scenes are creepy and ominous while allowing for natural whites to come through and improved details. You'll also notice that the image has been slightly reframed with a little more image information on the top and bottom. Nothing too dramatic, but the difference is there.
Now where some folks will take umbrage with this new transfer over the previous release that was supervised by Cinematographer Sergio Salvati is the color timing. The previous release pushed yellows hard and the image had an overall lighter, golden-brown color to it. Immediately, you'll see that this new 4K restoration has pulled back the yellows and pushed for stronger blues. Thankfully this image does not suffer from a teal orange punch but instead favors a cooler quality. While yellows may not be as prominent as before, the cooler approach gives whites a much more natural, crisper quality. Flesh tones are also more natural and healthy looking. Reds and blues still offer plenty of primary pop.
It more or less comes down to preference at this point. On one hand, the original 2011 release was approved by Salvati, on the other, it came packaged with unfortunate negative issues that this new restoration mitigates and makes vast improvements in clarity and detail. I've owned this movie now on LaserDisc, a couple DVDs, and Blu-ray releases and they each have a different look and feel to them so it's a bit of a toss-up which one is "correct" and true to Fulci's intentions. I for one am very happy with this new 4K restoration as the positives outweigh any negatives - even if I'd gotten used to those pushed yellow/brown tones.
It would seem that Zombie resurrected the same English DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio mix from the 2011 Ultimate Edition release. After doing a bunch of disc swapping between releases during a variety of scenes, I honestly couldn't discern any difference. I was always okay with this mix even if it sounded a bit overworked and the element placement and spacing felt a tad forced with some hollow tinny effects.
However, Blue Underground delivers a new DTS-HD MA 1.0 mono track that is much more in keeping with the film's original presentation. Dialogue, sound effects, the iconic Frizzi score all have a more natural presence to them that sounds more organic to a 70s Italian horror picture. While the mix loses a bit of the imaging qualities of the 7.1 track, key elements like dialogue and the sound effects are front and center and sounds like gunshots get that wonderful howitzer cannon quality. For this sort of film, I'm glad BU decided to offer a traditional mono mix - it's how I'll be watching the film going forward.
Blue Underground has always done a gangbuster job with their bonus features and this 40th Anniversary 3-Disc Limited Edition is no exception. All of the previous bonus features are included here along with a new Audio Commentary by author Troy Howarth that's a great listen and companion track to the previous Audio Commentary. There's also a new interview with author Stephen Thrower that gives some valuable insight into the show. On top of that, BU included a CD with the film's score as well as a booklet containing stills and a terrific essay by Thrower. Combined, there are a few hours of quality bonus features for fans to pick through.
Click Here for a breakdown of the previous bonus features.
New Bonus Features:
NEW Audio Commentary featuring author Troy Howarth
NEW When The Earth Spits Out The Dead (HD 33:05) Interview with author Stephen Thrower
Archival Bonus Features:
Guillermo del Toro Introduction
Audio Commentary featuring star Ian McCulloch and Jason J Slater.
Zombie Wasteland (HD 22:19)
Flesh Eaters on Film (HD 9:38)
Deadtime Stories (HD 14:30)
World of the Dead (HD 16:29)
Zombi Italiano (HD 16:34)
Notes on a Headstone (HD 7:25)
All in the Family (HD 6:08)
Zombi Lover (HD 9:36)
Poster and Still Gallery
For its 40th Anniversary, Lucio Fulci's Zombie is given a fitting 3-Disc Limited Edition Blu-ray release from Blue Underground. The film is a gory delight complete with plenty of blood, guts, eyeballs, and missing limbs to go around. Whether or not you loop it into a series with Dawn of the Dead, the flick is a riot from start to finish as a true gory audience pleaser. Blue Underground brings the film to Blu-ray once again with a brand new transfer sourced from a fresh 4K restoration. The image has more detail than ever before with an improved sense of depth and stronger black levels. Some out there may take issue with the cooler color temperature, but the positives outweigh any negatives. Toss in a new more traditional DTS-HD MA 1.0 mono mix as well as the massive collection of new and archival bonus features with the film's soundtrack, this new Limited Edition release of Zombie is an easy one to call Highly Recommended.