Zombie Holocaust, not to be confused with…
Anyone that has succumbed to the curse of loving horror movies quickly learns that getting a fix is a problem. In the United States, there are only so many movies to choose from. Of those, many bow to a prescribed box-office formula. Eventually hardcore horror fans must look for international dealers. Italy produces some the best. The truth is, Italy makes very good zombie movies. Arguably, Italian director Lucio Fulci created one of the greatest zombie movies NOT directed by George Romero, Zombie. Zombie Holocaust is another movie and another matter entirely.
This article reviews 1981’s Zombie Holocaust. Incidentally, this film stars Ian McCulloch, who also starred in Zombie. Marino Girolami directs Zombie Holocaust. The producers released this film in the United States as Dr. Butcher MD. Dr. Butcher MD contains edits not in the Italian version. This review specifically covers the original Zombie Holocaust in its unedited form. Marino Girolami steals from way better Italian zombie movies. But, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything to enjoy in this film.
Template for Italian Horror
For those not initiated in Italian horror, there are several attributes that one must understand. First, Italian horror films often feature gratuitous nudity. Second, these films supply plenty of gore. Occasionally, Italian horror films offer a vibrant art-house aesthetic. Other times, they appear as if they were created on $500 dollar budget. Periodically, these movies accompany a wonderful soundtrack. Zombie Holocaust has nudity and gore in spades. No one confuses this film with art and the soundtrack is inconsequential at best.
A Familiar Plot
To begin, a mysterious man sneaks into a morgue to steal the hand off of a corpse. Subsequently, the staff determines that the mysterious man works as an orderly. To their horror, they learn that he consumes the bodies of the dead. Upon being caught, the orderly throws himself from the hospital window, committing suicide. Disturbed, Dr. Lori Ridgeway reports the events to expert Dr. Peter Chandler, played by Ian McCulloch. Accordingly, Peter explains to her that these events have been occurring in other city hospitals.
Lori Ridgeway continues to see a specific tribal marking associated with cannibal tribes from the Asian Pacific. The preponderance of evidence points to a tribal cult on a remote island. As a result, Lori, Dr. Peter Chandler and others travel to the island to unravel the mystery. Upon arrival, the team meets the mysterious Dr. Obrero. Obrero offers the team support, but likewise hides a sinister secret.
It’s a common occurrence in Italian zombie cinema to recycle zombie tropes. Not surprising, the setup Marino Girolami constructs very much resembles the setup of Lucio Fulci’s Zombie. Certainly, there are nuances that make this film unique. Marino Girolami adds and element of cannibalism. That being said, the movie still largely involves a group of unlikely Americans treading on tribal lands that they do not belong.
Zombie Holocaust – Special Effects
The special effects for eviscerated dead bodies looks believable. For this reason, I suspect the use of real animal entrails for these shots. The makeup for the walking dead disappoints at every opportunity. In fact, a 9 year old could make better zombies with a $20 makeup kit. However, Every once in a while Zombie Holocaust stumbles on bright spot. For example, Peter uses an Evinrude at one point motor to defend himself against zombie. That scene plays as cool as it sounds. Moreover, Dr. Obrero’s brain surgery scenes make the viewer cringe as he peels back the scalp.
Zombie Holocaust – A Thinly Veiled Forgery
Zombie Holocaust steals from way better Italian zombie movies. But, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything to like. For example, the film unintentionally produces some laughs. Additionally, some scenes offer stomach turning special effects. As a result, I happen to enjoy this film. But, I have a sickness for Italian zombie movies. Overall, the performances are weak, the script is dull, the cinematography is flat. The gore has its up and downs. If the goal is to seek the pinnacle of Italian zombie cinema, skip this one and go straight to Lucio Fulci’s Zombie. For fans that just ran out of content and need a fix, this may do.
Zombie Holocaust (1980) - A Memorable and Gory Forgery - Malevolent Dark
Director: Marino Girolami
Date Created: 1980-01-01 00:00