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If you are a certified gore hound, then Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE ($30) is a DVD you will probably want to add to your collection. ZOMBIE is obviously inspired by the success that George Romero had with his flesh eating dead movies. However, Lucio Fulci brings stylish direction and Italian sensibilities to this film. Romero's films almost seem tame as compared to "the more gore the better" approach that has dominated much of modern Italian horror cinema. ZOMBIE is not for the squeamish; especially those who have a hard time watching cannibalistic zombies making a meal out of live human victims.

The story takes place on a remote island where a mysterious disease first kills then resurrects its victims. Of course, the newly risen dead are hungry and everyone who is still breathing is on the menu. All one has to do is watch a few minutes ZOMBIE to know this isn't an American horror movie. The pacing is different, the level of gore is higher and the voices on the soundtrack don't match the lip movements of the actors up on the screen. For ZOMBIE, Lucio Fulci focused less on story and plot than he did on creating individual moments of unrelenting horror. The underwater sequence in which a Zombie faces off against a live shark is something that required a great deal of nerve to even attempt, and I have to credit Fulci for bringing it off so well. A truly gut wrenching moment comes when a splinter of wood is forced through a woman's eye in full close up. The special effects for this sequence are quite realistic, making this stomach churning scene key to why ZOMBIE has acquired a legendary status in annals of Italian horror.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has brought ZOMBIE to DVD in its proper aspect ratio, however the presentation is not a showcase for the capabilities of the format. This transfer is head and shoulders above anything I've seen on ZOMBIE in the past, plus the viewer gets to see the film presented in full 2.35:1 wide screen. Note: some digital technology has been deployed to fix some of the imperfections in the film elements. The computer assisted video restoration could have used a bit more human intervention to smooth over the problems. Computers can only do so much on their own, while a human technician can decide which is the best way to fix the deficiencies in the film elements without drawing attention to those corrections. Of course, computers cost less than a human video technician who is paid on an hourly basis. Overall, the film to tape transfer is pretty good. Detail is about average and the color reproduction is natural. Digital compression artifacts were noticeable, but somewhat odd in appearance. At times, they make it seem as if one was looking at the image through a screen.

ZOMBIE has been given a new Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack for this release. The track is great, considering that it has taken nearly twenty years to get the film from its Italian origins, through English dubbing and onto DVD. There are some strong directional effects and the track has quite a bit of ambience. The dubbed dialogue is clear and intelligible. Also included on the DVD is a running audio commentary featuring Ian McCulloch, one of the leading players in the film, and Jason J. Slater editor of DIABOLIK magazine. Die-hard fans will get more from the commentary, than will the casual viewer.

The interactive menus feature the usual scene selection feature allow access to a theatrical trailer, plus radio spots. Note: time coding was absent from this DVD.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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