Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Zombie 3 (1987)

...aka: Zombi 3
...aka: Zombie Flesh Eaters 2

Directed by:
Claudio Fragasso
Lucio Fulci
Bruno Mattei

A man steals the "Death One" compound from a top secret military lab, is shot while trying to escape and becomes infected. He makes his way to a hotel, chops off his hand, turns into a zombie, kills a maid and infects a room service waiter before the military barge in to contain the infection. They're successful, but unfortunately not smart enough about disposing of the bodies and decide to just toss them all into an incinerator, sending toxic ash into the skies. The local bird population then become carriers of the disease and start attacking and pecking people, who then become infected, puss-oozing killers. Three American soldiers (future director Deran Sarafian, "Richard Raymond"/ Ottaviano Dell'Acqua and "Alex Mc Bride"/ Massimo Vanni), a bus full of tourists and a young woman (Beatrice Ring) traveling with her brother hole up in an abandoned resort trying to avoid not only the zombies but also the soldiers since they've been instructed by General Morton (Mike Monty) to kill everyone located inside the contaminated area, whether they're infected or not.
Some call this awful and some call it enjoyably over-the-top trash, but either way it's not "good" in the traditional sense. And with no less than three directors working on the project, it's no wonder. Fulci, who would later disown it and call it the worst thing he ever worked on, shot about 70 minutes of footage before leaving the film due to bad health. Most of his footage did end up in the finished product (some sources claim around 60%) and the rest was filled in by Mattei and screen writer Fragasso. As a result, there's noticable shift between the tone, the presentation of the zombies and the overall ambience. The fog machine seems to be working in overdrive one moment as zombies slowly shuffle along in the streets, but by the next scene we have speeded-up action of living dead who are anything but dead. Hell, they're downright acrobatic; running, leaping from high places or through walls, showing individual strength by wrestling and throwing people to the ground and hanging upside down from rafters to grab at people!
It's fast-paced and loaded with blood, variable gore effects, stuntwork and brainless action scenes (including several big explosions), with the lead male characters doing karate kicks and constantly showing off with hilarious unneeded flips while fighting zombies. In fact, much of the time it seems more inspired by RAMBO and other popular action movies of the time than it does the films its title sequelizes. Toward the end there's even a hilarious copy of the famous Willem Dafoe shot in PLATOON as a helicopter flies away! Combine with some of the worst dubbing and dialogue known to made and you've got something that will tickle certain people's funny bones... but just tick everyone else off.
The "Zombi" series, just like the later-half of the "Demons" series, is strictly in-name-only with nothing to really connect each film other than the zombie theme. Romero's masterpiece DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) was released as ZOMBI in Europe, became a huge hit and led to the Fulci-directed cash-in ZOMBI 2 (1979), which in turn led to more and more "sequels," including this one, ZOMBIE 4: AFTER DEATH (1988), ZOMBIE 5: THE KILLING BIRDS (1987; yep it was filmed before 4), ZOMBIE 6: MONSTER HUNTER (1981; yep, it was filmed before 3, 4 and 5), etc. ZOMBI(E) 3 actually isn't even the only film to use the same sequel title. It was also used in different markets (often as a reissue title) for BEYOND THE LIVING DEAD (1972), LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE (1979), ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST (1980), BURIAL GROUND (1981) and others.


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