By Raymond Knowby


Italian goremeister Lucio Fulci’s cash-in on the DAWN OF THE DEAD craze is rather underwhelming in most respects, yet devotedly hailed as a classic cult film in some purist circles. This is definitely one that seems to cater to a specific taste in style over substance.

An unmanned sailboat drifts into a New York harbor, and when police investigators hop onboard for a look there’s a pretty visceral encounter with a walking corpse. It turns out that the ship belongs to the father of a young woman (Tisa Farrow), and together with a reporter (Ian McCulloch) they soon head for the tropical island of “Motul” to find him doing cadaverous research with voodoo.

It isn’t the scenics, which are quite good (and quite nicely photographed). It isn’t the make-up, either, which is also top notch. It’s the damn meandering storyline that does things in. I like voodoo as much as the next guy, and I love zombies, so why do I feel so cheated out of both affairs here? It takes forever for something to develop, and when it finally does, it turns out to be poorly executed and anticlimactic. The driving score, which some truly love but I find to be completely trying too hard to be Goblin, endlessly repeats, as do the many shots of burning zombies wandering around during the lackluster giant battle.

I guess I’m in the other camp on this divide. Romero’s flicks made you care–they could actually make you feel the threat and claustrophobia of global collapse. Fulci’s zombies even look better detail-wise, but who needs a few more maggots and rotten teeth if all you’re going to do with the thing is show it crawl out of the ground for four minutes straight? Does it matter who gets mauled and eaten alive with a band of heroes you don’t really care about?

If you are a gore fan for just the sake of the red stuff alone, you might really dig this, but otherwise, save the ninety mintues for something with a little more narrative meat.

ZOMBIE has plenty of guts, but not much brain to go with it.