Upon reviewing Lucio Fulci’s video nasty classic Zombie Flesh Eaters, I feel like I’ve inadvertently written myself into a corner involving titles. You see, thanks to the crypt-load of alternate titles Italian zombie movies had during the 80’s, what some countries know as Zombi 3 is in others also known confusingly as Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 thanks to the prior film being a very unofficial sequel to Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead (itself titled Zombi in Italy).However, whether you regard this as a Dawn Of The Dead sequel (don’t), a Zombie Flesh Eaters sequel, or just some stand alone horror film that randomly rewrites it’s own rules, what remains the same is that Zombi 3 is an absurd dollop of ropey, camp stupidity that is hugely entertaining for all the wrong reasons.
In a secret research lab located in the Philippines, scientists are experiencing with a compound that seeming has the ability to give the dead a boot in the arse then need to make them spring back into life. Labelled “Death-One” in an attempt to give you a heads up not to expect a shred of subtlety, the substance has the rather alarming side effect of making the reanimated corpse grow all scummy and become exceedingly violent but despite the non-stop whinging of the lead boffins, the massively smug general in charge refuses to admit there’s a problem.However, when random terrorists hijack the place and steal Death-one for no other reason than the script writers can’t be bothered to think of a better reason, it spreads to the residents of a local hotel and the military finally swoop in to take control. Meanwhile, a trio of unfeasibly horny GIs on leave flirt with a camper van full of similarly horny girls and their ineffectual male friends as they travel on their way for some good times while elsewhere a vacationing Patricia has to listen to the anti-enviromental bullcrap enimating from the pie hole of her awful boyfriend (choice dialogue – “I like smoking, I take a toke on a joint every now and then and once in a while I like to piss on a bush, am I going to go to hell for that?”). However, thanks to that dick of a general creating the body of an infected terrorist, his ashes infect a flock of birds who go crazy and try to pack the faces off our various, badly dubbed leads. Somehow all converging at the hotel seen earlier, they inexplicably find it seriously dilapidated even though the movie hasn’t informed us of any kind of time jump whatsoever; and worse yet, they find it packed with remarkably nimble zombies who haven’t let death stop them from learning complicated fight choreography. Can this panicky group of survivors manage to persevere against this brutal, undead threat and their suprisingly poorly sketched abilities?
It probably comes as no suprise to you whatsoever that Zombi 3 is garish, infantile trash of the highest order that makes as much sense as a spoken word album performed by a pickled beetroot, and yet in the pantheon of shitty Italian gut-crunchers it’s actually quite a bit of fun. As disjointed as a zombie’s vertebrae, the movie was set to be the triumphant return of Lucio Fulci to the undead genre he helped cultivate but after an unfortunate stroke waylaid the sultan of spaghetti splatter halfway through filming, schlock-meister Bruno Mattei (Strike Commando, Hell Of The Living Dead) took the helm which goes some way to explaining why the finished film is more unfocused than Mr Magoo’s last eye exam. But although the film is an admitted mess, it also manages to score insanely high in the so-bad-it’s-good stakes – which is a coincidence because insanely high is the preferred state you should probably be watching it in. The randomness of it’s fever-dream plot actually results in an experience that’s by turns bewildering, shocking and unintentionally hilarious but one thing it isn’t is dull.The actors bumble around sets dripping with eerie green lighting and dry ice (even if the mood doesn’t even call for it) with their mouths flapping wildly as the excruciating dubbing makes all their acting efforts null and void as they – and we – anxiously await the gruesomely hideous (not to mention really fucking funny) death that awaits many of them. For example the guy who dubs the head scientist really should cut back on his caffeine intake, but then we wouldn’t get the immortal line reading of “When you asked us to work on Death-One you should have told us about the risks involved!” Um, it’s… it’s called DEATH-ONE, dude… Speaking of the risks, while Zombi 3 may technically owe more to Dan O’ Bannon’s Return Of The Living Dead than to any of Romero’s ghouls, that doesn’t stop the film from going full force with those trademark Italian exploitation death scenes. Take the hapless woman who falls into a suspiciously bubbling lake and is hauled out to reveal she’s suddenly been chewed short of both her legs – or the magnificently illogical moment where a girl randomly stumbles across a heavily pregnant woman (no explanation given) only to have her face torn to shreds by a zombie and her head pushed toward the woman’s violently undulating stomach from which the hand of a fully grown man rips through the skin pulling her into the viscera. Nonsense? Yes. Fucking awesome? Also yes. However, best of all is the truly surreal moment when some dude opens a fridge to look for food but instead of a quiche or something he finds a severed head whose eyes snap open and then flies – that’s right, flies like one of the Spheres from fucking Phantasm – to rip at it’s victim’s throat. I’m not exactly sure what the late, great George Romero had in mind when he refined the cinematic zombie back in 1968 but I’m fairly fairly it wasn’t this. And still the weirdness just keeps on coming until it ends with it’s most off-beat bout of ridiculousness of all – Day Of The Dead may have had Bub try to clumsily flipping through Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and slur words over an unplugged phone, but I’m willing to wager that not even Zak Snyder’s upcoming Army Of The Dead is going to feature a goddamn zombie DJ. That’s right, keep your running zombies from 28 Days Later or your talking zombies from Return Of The Living Dead; this is the only movie you’ll experience that features a member of the undead able to host a morning breakfast show and he actually closes out the movie with song that he dedicates to all the undead around the world in a moment that’s supposed to fill you all with existential dread but instead has more chance of making you snort whatever beverage you’re drinking out through your nose…
Rotten. But dead funny.