Tuesday, September 18
THE DEAD ARE AMONG US!
I’ve been on a huge Fulci kick lately, and have really been enjoying re-watching his films. Last Halloween I hosted the 12 HOURS OF TERROR marathon at the Belcourt theater and Fulci’s ZOMBIE was one of the films shown. It was an actual 35mm print, as were all the movies that day, and let me tell you, Fulci on the big screen is like a religious experience. ZOMBIE, or ZOMBI 2, is a movie that really benefits from both a large screen projection and a packed theater - a packed theater of reverent movie watchers, I must say – there was nary a cell phone opened or chatty teen in the audience. I can’t wait for this year’s marathon.
All that said, Blue Underground released Zombie on Blu-ray last year and it is supposed to be absolutely beautiful. This 1979 loose follow up to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead has finally been given the attention it deserves. An uncut, high-def blu-ray transfer packed with extras, so many that it comes packaged with a second disc comprised entirely of extras. Just look at what all comes on this Blu-ray:
DISC 1 EXTRAS:
Audio Commentary with Star Ian McCulloch and Diabolik Magazine Editor Jason J. Slater
Poster & Still Gallery
Guillermo del Toro Intro
DISC 2 EXTRAS:
"Zombie Wasteland" - Interviews with Stars Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson & Al Cliver, and Actor/Stuntman Ottaviano Dell'Acqua
"Flesh Eaters on Film" - Interview with Co-Producer Fabrizio De Angelis
"Deadtime Stories" - Interviews with Co-Writers Elisa Briganti and (Uncredited) Dardano Sacchetti
"World of the Dead" - Interviews with Cinematographer Sergio Salvati and Production & Costume Designer Walter Patriarca
"Zombi Italiano" - Interviews with Special Make-Up Effects Artists Gianetto De Rossi & Maurizio Trani and Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi
"Notes on a Headstone" - Interview with Composer Fabio Frizzi
"All in the Family" - Interview with Antonella Fulci
"Zombie Lover" - Award-Winning Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro talks about one of his favorite films
Amazing! Now this disc was released in October of 2011, almost a year ago, so why am I just now writing about it? Well, until now I haven’t broken down and bought a copy. But thanks to Brother D over at MAIL ORDER ZOMBIE (thanks for the present, Derek) I finally ordered my copy today and am jazzed about checking out all the crystal clear carnage in high def!
There is just something about Fulci’s work that seems to resonate more with me as I get older. I first saw Zombie sometime in the late 80s when I was in college. I of course loved the gore scenes but my appreciation probably ended there – well, there and with the multiple nude scenes throughout the film. Perhaps my sensibilities have changed as I’ve gotten older, or maybe I’m just a more sophisticated movie watcher. But regardless, suffice it to say there is so much more to appreciate in his work.
Zombie in particular has a sense of dread throughout the entire movie. It reeks of atmosphere. It is unrelenting. This was considered an unofficial sequel to DAWN OF THE DEAD (called ZOMBI in Italy), thus the confusing title ZOMBI 2. But unlike DAWN, there are never any humorous moments, never a respite from the onslaught of terror. In that sense it is closer to the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD than DAWN. The undead in ZOMBIE, however, are scarier than anything Romero presented onscreen, particularly in his latest couple of films where they’ve become mere punch lines to a lame joke. Fulci’s zombies are the things of nightmares. Maggots, worms, rot, decay – rancid creatures that that were buried and forgotten and have come back to destroy mankind. Romero’s zombies are us. There is no humanity in Fulci’s zombies. And unlike Romero’s films there is no social commentary in ZOMBIE. Which is fitting as that would have made it more… human. The action is presented straightforward without interpretation, which serves to intensify the onscreen violence and terror.
Fulci’s movies are more about the emotional and visceral impact than the storylines. They have a dream-like quality about them. In fact, the word I used earlier, nightmare, is apt in the description of his work. Fulci wasn’t concerned so much with linear storytelling as he was with delivering nightmarish scenes. He never blinks or diverts his gaze - instead he focuses his lens firmly on scenes of unbelievably gruesome violence and forces the viewer to stare at it as if their eyes were propped open. I can’t wait to stare at these scenes again through the clarified vision of Blu-ray. It is as if a celluloid cataract has been removed and I’ll be seeing his work for the first time in crystal clarity.