Friday, 3 June 2016

Zombie Holocaust

Some news landed in my Inbox yesterday announcing Severin's all-singing, all-dancing special edition BR of Zombie Holocaust due at the end of July, and to stave off the temptation to pre-order a copy (the first 5000 copies come with a free vomit bag!) I revisited the film last night courtesy of the 2002 Shriek Show DVD. I knew Fabrizio De Angelis' screenplay owed a debt to Zombie Flesh Eaters (when in doubt, follow the money!) but I'd forgotten to what extent - Zombie Holocaust raids footage, actors and character names from Fulci's film, so much so it occasionally feels like Zombie Flesh Eaters' Peter West has taken one of those alternative yellow brick roads to end up in another version of Zombie Flesh Eaters playing out in the cinematic multiverse. But considering De Angelis produced Fulci's film, one might argue that this was more a case of marshaling resources than plain daylight robbery. Aside from malfunctioning dummies and blinking corpses, the film has two startling moments - the jolting first appearance of the zombies (just as one settles into a cannibal film), and the gruesome surgical procedure on the sassy young reporter, which is genuinely unpleasant, and feels like it's strayed from a Nazi camp exploiter, another Italian subgenre the multi-tasking Zombie Holocaust can add to its repertoire...



Exploring the supplements last night on Shriek Show's DVD of Zombie Holocaust, I enjoyed revisiting Tales That Will Tear Your Heart Out, Roy Frumkes' segment of the abandoned anthology film, and despite the rough embryonic state, it's a fine example of what can be accomplished with some rudimentary effects and a visually arresting location (in this case the grounds of a psychiatric hospital). What a strange quirk of fate that this surviving fragment of Tales That Will Tear Your Heart Out is forever tied to Zombie Holocaust's alternative cut Doctor Butcher, M.D (some footage that Frumkes' shot for Tales was shoehorned into Zombie Holocaust for its re-tooled stateside release). Fortunately, Tales That Will Tear Your Heart Out will also feature on the Severin edition, as will the 6min conversation with Zombie Holocaust's special effects artist, who seems most reluctant to discuss the film to the frustration of the ill-prepared interviewer. I would have elbowed this bit of grim business but in the special editions wars, it seems all extras count...

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