Zombie [Limited Edition] – Blu-ray Review
Film Title: Zombie (a.k.a “Zombi 2“)
Release Date: 1979
Rating: NOT RATED
Runtime: 92 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Studio: Blue Underground
Audio Format: DTS-HD MA 7.1 & Mono
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Formats Available: Blu-ray
Version Reviewed: 2018 Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Release Date: 11/27/18
Director: Lucio Fulci
Cast: Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver, Auretta Gay, Olga Karlatos, Stefania D’Amario, Ottaviano Dell’Acqua, Captain Haggerty
“Zombie” as it was titled (here in the United States) on its release in 1979, was originally titled “Zombi 2” in its home country of Italy. The reason for that was because of “Zombi” being the Italian release title for George A. Romero’s film “Dawn of the Dead” which had just been released the year before this, in 1978. In fact, the producers actually decided to use this title to cash-in on the success of Romero’s film, and even went as far as to market it as an unofficial sequel. Neither the director nor the screenwriter(s) in any way intended this to be a sequel to that film, as it was to stand on its own as their own work.
This film was directed by acclaimed Italian horror director Lucio Fulci. Fulci was very known for his contributions to the horror genre, directing such genre films as “City of the Living Dead” (1980), “The House by the Cemetery” (1981), “The New York Ripper” (1982), “Manhattan Baby” (1982), and “A Cat in the Brain” (1990).
The screenplay to this film was written by Elisa Briganti along with Dardano Sacchetti (uncredited). The story involves at first us seeing a man in profile with a gun aimed at a body wrapped in sheets, that we assume to be a zombie. The man waits for the zombie to reanimate and rise, and when it does he fires a shot, then proclaims:
“The boat can leave now. Tell the crew.”
Oddly enough, after the opening credits, the first thing we see is a boat floating around abandoned in New York close to landmarks (for the time) such as the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty. It even gets passed by the Staten Island Ferry. Eventually a group of NYPD harbor patrol officers come across the boat after numerous reports. The two officers board the boat to find that it is indeed abandoned, well at least it seems to be. It’s full of nasty garbage, a severed chewed hand from a human being, and oh yeah… a stowaway of sorts. Let’s just say this boat seems to have been carrying something and this will be all the more relevant by the end of the film.
Meanwhile, the NYC authorities try to locate the man who the boat belonged to, yet only manage to find his daughter “Anne Bowes” (Tisa Farrow). Anne tells the detectives she has no clue where her father is. She is however determined to find he father, and she’ll do whatever it takes to find more clues as to where he may be. Along the way she ends up crossing paths with a reporter “Peter West” (Ian McCulloch), given the assignment of researching the mysterious abandoned boat. Anne and Peter decide to work together in trying to find her missing father. Peter gets word that leads them to a Caribbean island called Matul. They meet a couple that own a boat, “Brian” (Al Cliver) and “Susan” (Auretta Gay), who eventually come to an agreement to help them on their journey to the island.
Meanwhile, on the Matul island, one “Dr. David Menard” (Richard Johnson) is running a small hospital trying to help the strangely sick people of the area. His wife “Mrs. Paola Menard” (Olga Karlatos) is fed up with his works on this small Caribbean island, and wants to leave as she makes apparent from first introduction. While Dr. Menard is trying to help the people of his island afflicted with a strange sickness (as mentioned) there have started to be rumors from those in the area that the dead are beginning to rise. The way the dead are said to be rising can be compared to the voodoo legend of zombies.
Let’s just say the rumors are true, and this island is overwhelmed with sickness and is starting to be overwhelmed with the walking dead (zombies). The daughter, the reporter, and the couple with a boat are having a bit of an odd time themselves on their way to the island. They do eventually make their way to the island, but just in time to see it start to really become overrun by zombies. This is some great zombie horror that is right up there with the legendary films from director George A. Romero, who made the zombie genre popularized in the United States and abroad. Director Lucio Fulci was a great filmmaker, and this is one of his true classics. Be sure to look for Fulci’s cameo in the film as the head of the newspaper that sends the reporter on his assignment.
Movie Rating: 5 (out of 5)
According to the technical specifications listed on IMDb this was shot on 35MM film using the Arriflex 35 lic camera. It was originally theatrically presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio but just as with the previous (2011) Blu-ray release it comes here once again in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. No complaints at all about that choice.
As mentioned, this film was previously released on Blu-ray back in 2011 (also from Blue Underground), but now this 1979 horror classic has received an all-new 4K restoration. This restoration comes from the original camera negative (uncut and uncensored). The new 2018 4K restoration was done by Augustus Color (based in Italy), and the credits as to those involved are listed below:
Now to show off how much of an improvement this new 4K restoration truly offers, I’m going to offer up some screenshot comparisons between this new 2018 and the original 2011 Blu-ray releases.
Blu-ray Screenshot Comparisons:
(Blu-ray sources: left = 2018 / right = 2011)
So, as you can tell there has been a drastic change not just in terms of quality and the amount of detail, but also the color timing and even some adjustments made to the brightness on some scenes. There’s also a considerable bit more of the field of view finally present here, and it is properly filling up the 2.40:1 aspect ratio this time. The title sequence has been redone and I personally like it better this way. Some purists may be upset by this choice, namely the changing of the logo, but in fairness it is more visually pleasing this way. The logo for the film seems a tad bit off though, is my only complaint about the title sequence change. I don’t get why they couldn’t just recreate the logo for that.
This presentation, from the 4K restoration, is extremely impressive, especially in comparison to the original 2011 Blu-ray release. There’s still a very nice amount of film grain preserved, but it doesn’t feel quite as gritty as it did before, and it comes with a certainly impressive and creepy amount of newfound detail – thanks to being from a new 4K scan, used for the restoration. The color timing has been corrected slightly here, as you can tell in comparisons between the two versions. As a result of color palette changes, you also get a more accurate representation of flesh tones. The black level seems to be solid here, as about 15 minutes in during a nighttime scene you’ll really notice during the near pitch dark.
The underwater scene involving the woman scuba diving, while dark as it is, still presents us with a lot more detail at the sea creatures and such. Plus, the shark looks more detailed than ever before. You’ll really appreciate this restoration effort when the famous part of this scene comes along, not too much later. The detail found in daytime scenes, even not those during peak sunlight, is pretty remarkable in comparison to what we saw before. Hell, even that underwater scene holds a large amount of detail and it’s pretty dark.
The detail that really got my attention was that of the famous scene involving a splinter of wood (as pictured on some artwork for the film). That scene has never seemed more intense and filled with enough clarity to really creep me out that much before.
There’s just a slight subdued nature to color palette here, but some colors such as reds really stand out to be pretty bright: be it for clothing or blood. The jungle latter in the film doesn’t appear as bright of a green as you’d expect, but it does have a somewhat pleasing color to the foliage. It’s just the film’s visual style, and it’s being represented correctly here via this restoration. There are some colors that come across bright, and it’s important that blood red be one. Thankfully it is and it makes things all the more convincing.
Fans will appreciate all of this new video presentation and the 4K restoration efforts. This 2018 “Limited Edition” is definitely worth picking up, as it’s a very impressive improvement over the original Blu-ray release. If you previously owned that release you really should consider upgrading, as that came out seven years ago. Blue Underground has absolutely done Lucio Fulci’s 1979 horror classic justice here visually on this new Blu-ray release of the film. It’s very nice to see, considering this film is now celebrating its 40th anniversary.
Video Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
Audio here is presented in both DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio and the original DTS-HD 1.0 Master Audio Mono – in both English and Italian languages. Not only do you get English & Italian 7.1 and Mono mixes here, but you also get a French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono mix as well. This was not even an option on the original 2011 Blu-ray release, so that’s definitely worth noting.
The lossless mixes here sound like they may have received a bit of reworking, seeming to come across a tad bit more impressive this time around, namely the 7.1 mix. The rear channels get some decent use for the ambient noises, such as the waves or things passing by and so forth early on in the film for scenes on the boat. Sound effects come across pretty realistic for a 1979 film here. The original musical Score is well represented in the 7.1 mix.
25 minutes in, when on the island, you’ll hear the background drumming comes through the rear channels slightly as well as through the front left and right channel speakers. Then, 27 minutes, the drumming starts to intensify as we see a closeup of an actress that is upset, setting the vibe perfectly. The drumming continues to get nice use throughout the mix in the background or at times intensifying to set the mood. Dialogue on the English and Italian surround mixes is very nicely driven from center channel speaker. 40 minutes in and the sound of wind gets used for the rear channels, as do the sounds of creatures in the jungle on the island later.
Startling sound effects can be used in the rear channels and even throughout (at times) in this surround mix. There are some really intense moments for the first hour of the film, but all lacking much bass. The subwoofer really doesn’t get a lot of action here until there are some slightly louder climactic scenes in the latter third of the film. It’s an improvement over the previous lossless surround mixes, and it’s nice that we now get lossless Mono mixes for both English and Italian languages. It’s not the most intense surround mix you will ever hear, by no means whatsoever, but it’s enough to do this film justice, as well as the lossless original Mono mix. Purists will be happy to see that finally getting a lossless mix.
I personally like the Mono mix here, as it proves to be the more impressive, but even the surround mix delivers a somewhat impressive audio presentation for a 1979 Italian horror film from a Mono sound source. Overall this audio presentation is likely to please just about all types of fans, with both languages and both 7.1 and Mono lossless mixes, and even a French Mono track included.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
Bonus materials on this release are mostly presented in HD video with Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono sound – unless otherwise noted below. The physical bonus contents on this release include:
- A Collectible Booklet (22 pages) includes an essay titled “We Are Going to Eat You! Zombie vs. The Critics” written by Stephen Thrower. You also get some photos like the cover of Fangoria featuring the film and movie posters. This essay proves to absolutely be worth the read for any fan of this film.
- A CD (Compact Disc) of the film’s original Soundtrack is included, which was composed by Fabio Frizzi. This includes a total of 9 tracks, with bonus track: “There’s No Matter” (4:39).
Blu-ray Disc 1 (aside from the film) includes the following bonus materials:
- Intro by Guillermo del Toro (0:24 – HD)
- NEW Audio Commentary #1 with Troy Howard (Author of “Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films“)
- NEW Audio Commentary #2 with Star Ian McCulloch and Diablok Magazine Editor Jason J. Slater
- NEW Featurette “When The Earth Spits Out The Dead” (33:05 – HD) is an interview with Stephen Thrower (Author of “Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci“) discussing the film as well as the other works by the film’s director. Thrower’s interview here proves to be very informative and entertaining. This accompanies the author’s essay included (as a collectible booklet) very nicely. This interview features Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
- Trailers feature Dolby Digital 1.0 sound and include:
- International Trailer (3:43 – HD)
- U.S. Trailer (1:30 – HD)
- TV Spots feature Dolby Digital 1.0 sound and include:
- TV Spot #1 (0:32 – SD)
- TV Spot #2 (0:32 – SD)
- Radio Spots (2:05 – HD) include four total.
- Poster & Still Gallery (9:51 – HD) plays as a slideshow and features Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
Blu-ray Disc 2 includes the following bonus materials:
- “Zombie Wasteland” (22:19 – HD) is comprised of interviews with primary cast members Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson & Al Cliver, and Actor/Stuntman Ottaviano Dell’Acqua. You’ll know that last guy as the most famous zombie from the entire film. This features Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
- “Flesh Eaters on Film” (9:38 – HD) is comprised of an interview with Co-Producer Fabrizio De Angelis. This features Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
- “Deadtime Stories” (14:30 – HD) is comprised of interviews with Co-Writer Elisa Briganti and (Uncredited) Co-Writer Dardano Sacchetti. This features Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
- “World of the Dead” (16:29 – HD) is comprised of interviews with Cinematographer Sergio Salvati and Production & Costume Designer Walter Patriarca. This features Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
- “Zombi Italiano” (16:34 – HD) is comprised of interviews with Special Make-Up Effects Artists Gianetto De Rossi & Maurizio Trani and Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi. This features Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
- “Notes on a Headstone” (7:25 – HD) is an interview with Composer Fabio Frizzi, responsible for the film’s original Score. This features Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
- “All in the Family” (6:08 – HD) is an interview with Antonella Fulci. It’s worth noting that Lucia’s daughter (speaking Italian) is subtitled here. This features Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
- “Zombie Lover” (9:36 – HD) is an interview that features the Academy Award-winning Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro discussing his love for this film, which he considers to be one of his favorites. This features Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
Overall the bonus materials you get here on this release are just truly excellent. You get two new audio commentary tracks, a new interview, the collectible booklet, a CD of the film’s original Soundtrack, and all of the extras found on the previous (2011) Blu-ray Disc release – via the second disc. The bonus contents here in physical form and in extras are enough to leave the fans equally informed and entertained, as well as pleased with the amount of new stuff added this time around.
Bonus Materials Rating: 5 (out of 5)
Lucio Fulci’s “Zombie” still, forty years later after its original release, proves to be one of the most memorable and influential horror films in the zombie sub genre. Lucio Fulci left us with one very excellent film here. It’s just one of the most widely loved films out there featuring the living dead obsessed on eating flesh. This film does have a bit more similarity to true original voodoo oriented film featuring the zombie legend. It’s not the same type of plot that you’ll find in a Romero zombie film.
Blue Underground really has absolutely done Lucio Fulci’s 1979 horror classic complete and utter justice here visually with this new Blu-ray release of the film’s 2018 4K restoration. It’s very nice to see this happen on this year too, considering that the film is celebrating its 40th anniversary. This is by far the best that “Zombie” has ever looked and is sure to leave those who previously owned the 2011 Blu-ray release impressed by the drastic improvement found here visually.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
5 (out of 5) for video quality
4.5 (out of 5) for audio quality
5 (out of 5) for bonus materials