An apparently abandoned yacht drifts into New York Harbor, and the Harbor Patrol investigates. On board, a huge rotting man (Captain Haggerty) kills Marty, one of the patrolmen, by tearing out his neck with his teeth. The remaining patrol man Bill manages to knock the hulking man into the sea by blasting him with his revolver several times.
A young woman named Anne Bowels (Tisa Farrow) is questioned by the police when it is discovered that the boat belonged to her father (Ugo Bologna). She does not know anything except that her father left for a tropical island to do research. A reporter named Peter West (Ian McCulloch) is assigned by his news editor (director Lucio Fulci in a cameo) to get the story on the mysterious boat. Anne and Peter meet on the boat and decide to work together after finding a note from Anne's father. The note says that he is on the island of Matool and that he has come down with a strange disease. Anne and Peter enlist the aid of a seafaring couple, Brian Hull (Pier Luigi Conti) and Susan Barrett (Auretta Gay), to help find Matool.
On Matool, Dr. David Menard (Richard Johnson) is hard at work studying the island's secrets. Matool is a cursed place where the dead rise to attack the living, and Menard is determined to find out why. Menard's contemptous, highly-strung wife Paola (Olga Karlatos) wants to leave the island in fear of the zombie attacks. But Menard insists on staying to continue his research. When Anne, Peter, Brian, and Susan reach Matool, the island itself seems to come alive, vomiting forth all the dead buried on the island to kill them.
In the end, all of the island's inhabitants and Susan fall victim to the walking dead; Brian is also infected and dies soon afterwards. Peter and Anne manage to escape by boat, taking the now undead Brian with them as evidence for their story. Shortly after the group leaves the island and reaches the open ocean they receive a radio message that, to their great horror and dismay, the undead have attacked New York City. Marty, the policeman killed by the zombie - and his killer itself - have infected the New York population, explosively multiplying the zombie army beyond any hope of control.
The film became infamous for two scenes in particular, aided by special effects. One features a zombie (Ramon Bravo) fighting a shark underwater. The actor scheduled to fight the shark was unable to perform the day the sequence was to be shot, so the shark's trainer was used instead.
The other infamous scene is where a character has her eye gouged out on a splintered piece of wood very slowly and painfully. This scene in particular was edited from many previous releases, but is intact on all three current DVD versions. The film is also remembered among fans for its creepy, synthesized opening theme.
Production and release
- The make-up effects were done by renowned Italian Giannetto De Rossi. The make-up for the zombies was "caked" on in several stages and Lucio Fulci, the director, constantly referred to the extras as "walking flower pots".
- The newspaper office scene was filmed in a busy office building, and at one point the cast and crew inadvertently interrupted a meeting held by Rupert Murdoch, who angrily kicked them out.
- Several of the actors playing the zombies were actually brothers. They look so similar that some people have speculated that all the zombies were played by one man.
- As shown in trailers before the film was released, airline "barf bags" were handed out to theater moviegoers due to the unusually high amount of violence and gore for a horror film of that time.
- Enzo G. Castellari was asked to direct this film early in its development, but turned it down.
Zombi 2 in EuropeZombi 2's incredible success in Europe re-ignited Fulci's sagging career and reinvented the director as a horror maven. Fulci would go on to direct several more horror films, and Zombi 2 introduced several of his trademarks: zombies, hyper-realistic gore and blood, and the infamous "eyeball gag" (a character is impaled or otherwise stabbed through the eyeball). Although Fulci's detractors labeled the film as a cheap attempt to cash in on the success of Dawn of the Dead, it is interesting to note that the Zombi 2 screenplay was actually completed before Dawn of the Dead premiered (hence the lack of connection between the two films).
Despite the massive popularity of the film, Zombi 2 was banned in several countries, including Great Britain, due to the massive gore content. It was released by Vipco but with a lot of violence edited out. It was finally released uncut in 2005. Lead actor Ian McCulloch, who is British, never actually had the opportunity to watch the film until he recorded a commentary for the Roan Group's laserdisc release of Zombi 2 in 1998, and was shocked at the gore level.
Zombi 2's massive European box office take also paved the way for three more sequels, which, like their predecessor, have no relation to any of the other films in the series — they all have self-contained plots. While the Zombi series proved to be incredibly lucrative, Zombi 2 is by far the most recognizable of the European zombie films.
The film was written before Dawn of the Dead was released in Italy, as an action/adventure thriller with no link to George A. Romero's films. The opening and closing scenes (which take place in New York) were added to the script later when the producers wanted to cash-in on the success of Dawn.
The infamous shark vs. zombie scene was filmed in a large salt water tank and the shark was fed horse meat and sedatives before filming.
Zombi 2 in the United States
Zombi 2 was released merely as Zombie in America and was considered a stand-alone film with no connection to Romero's zombie canon. The theatrical trailers for Zombie provided the memorable tagline of "We Are Going to Eat You!" and showcased some of the make-up effects, but did nothing to indicate the plot of the picture (although the audience was indeed warned about the graphic content of the film: a humorous crawl at the end of the preview promises "barf bags" to whoever requested them upon viewing the film).
VHS/DVD release history
The film developed a massive cult following after its release on home video, although a series of public domain releases featured a muddy full screen transfer of the film that angered hardcore fans. In the late 1990s, the film was released on DVD and laserdisc by Anchor Bay and The Roan Group respectively. Both versions used a widescreen film print, to the delight of fans. But more complaints were made about the transfer, which was still dark and muddy à la the film's original VHS release. The DVD/Laserdisc version also omitted several shots of nudity from the film and other misc bits because of print damage.
Five years later, Blue Underground' and Media Blasters, the latter of which used their Shriek Show horror banner, struck a deal to release the film on DVD yet again, this time with a newly remastered, uncut version of the film from the original negative. Now truly complete and no longer muddy looking, the two DVDs were released with Media Blasters using the film's original name Zombi 2 while Blue Underground released the film under the Americanized Zombie name. The Media Blasters release also contained a second disc filled with bonus material. The Media Blasters and Blue Underground releases differ slightly in their video. The Blue Underground version is encoded for progressive scan while the MB release is not.
Also worth noting are the differences between the 2004 Media Blasters and Blue Underground releases and the 1998 Anchor Bay disc, which often get confused. While Anchor Bay has a history of showing a great deal of respect for the preservation of purity in original director approved and uncut film releases, the 1998 Anchor Bay release of 'Zombi 2' inexplicably has a few seconds of footage omitted which can be found still intact in the 2004 Blue Underground and Media Blasters release. Both feature comparable digitally remastered, anamorphic 16:9 transfers, Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks as well as bonus materials.
The other films in the Zombi series made it to America as video releases -- none were released theatrically in the States, or had any real connection with this entry other than Zombies.
Zombi 2 was released in the UK in the early 1980s as "Zombie Flesh Eaters" It was passed with nearly 2 minutes of cuts for Cinema Exhibition. It was later released in the same "X" version on Video. Some time later the distributor decided to release a "Strong Uncut Version" on video, which caused it to be placed on the D.P.P.'s list of "Video Nasties."
It was later released in its cut form in the early '90s. The video's sleeve notes were misleading and described the film as uncut.
It was re-submitted in 1999, and an "Extreme version" was passed, with only minimal cuts to the eye gouge scene, and the Zombie Feast Scene. Apparently, the BBFC didn't have a problem passing the movie uncut, but as it was still classed as prosecuted for obscenity, they couldn't by law. In 2005 it was finally passed uncut, and released as a box set with a few other of the Video Nasties.
- The Canadian band Fake Shark - Real Zombie! took their name as a reference from a scene in this movie.
- The band Send More Paramedics have a song called Zombie vs. Shark in homage to this movie.
- Hip-hop producer Necro sampled the theme in the song "Carnivores" on the 2005 self-titled album from his group Circle of Tyrants.
- This film was #98 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments for the scene when a zombie pulls a victim towards a splintered wood shard.
- After the four heroes escape from the cottage, the camera cuts to a closeup of the jeep window. Reflected in the window is the arm of a crewmember, and when the camera pulls away you can see the head of a crewmember wearing a hat.
- In the last scene, the radio announcer in New York City states that the governor has declared a state of national emergency. Only the President can declare a national emergency, not a governor of a state.
- In the end scenes in the church, our heroes can be seen throwing bottles of kerosene at the zombies. The first one explodes into flames on the floor, but the following three bottles are all thrown into space where there is no fire. The fire has vanished.
- Paola Menard is in the village cottage alone, when the zombies begin to threaten her safety and attack. She then pulls the large wooden cabinet from the wall and pushes it against the door. However she pushes the dresser up against the door twice between shots.
- When Brian fires a rifle at the shark from the boat, he fires the rifle multiple times very quickly. The rifle he is using is a bolt action rifle, which must have a bolt part moved before each fire. He does not touch the bolt.
- In the last shot of the film, the zombies are walking across the bridge to New York City. Below, there are cars on both sides of the bridge driving to and from the island with absolutely no concern for the chaos that is supposedly taking place. This is not necessarily a goof, as it is revealed on the DVD special features that the crew did not have permission from New York City to make the shot, and did so by illegally flooding the bridge with actors. Because of this, they were unable to completely clear the bridge.
- When the Conquistador zombie which attacks Auretta Gay first rises from its grave, a shot of it rising into frame reveals the zombie make up ends just below the neck, leaving the actor's shirtless -- and very human -- shoulders plainly visible. In the next shot, the zombie is in full costume, including a tattered shirt which covers its shoulders.
- Zombie II in the Internet Movie Database
- Trailer for US release of Zombi II
- Version comparisons: http://www.dvdcompare.net/comparisons/film.php?fid=1