ZOMBIE: Screen Comparisons Reveal Superior New Blu Release

Lucio Fulci’s quintessential grindhouse classic Zombie AKA Zombi 2 AKA Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979) hit Blu-ray in a stunning new 4K restoration from the original camera negatives thanks to Blue Underground. The Italian gore-fest that was originally intended simply as a quasi-sequel/prequel to George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was a modest success on its original 42nd Street release. But over the years, thanks to Fulci’s visceral and audacious take on origin of the zombie outbreak, it’s earned a surprisingly loyal following among horror fans, who have had to deal with heavily censored versions or finding a copy at all. This is thanks to the film being classified as a Video Nasty or some countries just outright banning it in its Wizard Video VHS heyday, which has only added to the film’s mystique.

Zombie, for those that have never seen it, begins in the New York harbor, where an abandoned ship drifts toward the shore. It’s boarded by the police only to find the sole occupant a zombie who tears into the jugular of one of the officers. This attack triggers a series of events in keeping with the traditions of the genre, as we discover the boat belonged to a missing scientist. His daughter Anne (Tisa Farrow), after finding a note aboard the craft, travels with journalist Peter West (Ian McCulloch) to the mysterious cursed island of Matul in search of her father, where they meet Dr. David Menard (Richard Johnson). Menard has been researching ancient voodoo rites and the living dead who are slowly taking over the island in an attempt to understand and replicate the phenomenon. Almost as soon as Anne discovers the fate of her father, who was overtaken by the same affliction, the island is quickly overrun, and Anne and Peter must fight their way back to their boat.

Zombie was probably best known for its legendary scene featuring a stuntman zombie fighting a live tiger shark that was added without Fulci’s consent, and it’s still hard to watch the eye gouging scene. But over the last few years the film been sort of reappraised by film scholars. This is thanks not only to Fulci’s overall vision for the film, but Fabio Frizzi’s score, which is also included on CD with this release. Its iconic droning rhythms add an ambiance of doom to the already nihilistic narrative at hand. Zombie is easily one of my favorites of the crowded zombie sub-genre, thanks to everything I mentioned above and the striking zombie creature designs that were definitely something that originated here. The creatures are just caked in dirt and makeup, and it’s a very unique look that oddly enough with the zombie boom was never replicated.

Now I am going to be completely honest here, because I know why you’re probably reading this review. When Bill Lustig announced this 4K restoration, to be released on Blu-ray, I was more than a bit apprehensive wondering why they were choosing to release this film on Blu-ray again. But seeing is believing here folks. It’s definitely very apparent, even comparing the previous 2K Blue Underground disc, that a tremendous amount of work was done here. The first thing that becomes readily apparent is the film has been color corrected and a white balance has been applied to throughout, getting rid of that murky brownish tint that plagued the previous B.U. disc. Outdoor scenes are brighter and colors are more vibrant, and the film has a much more balanced contrast throughout.

Check out some examples below:

Top: Blue Underground 2k Remaster Blu-ray – Bottom: New 4K Remaster

Top: Blue Underground 2k Remaster Blu-ray — Bottom: New 4K Remaster

Top: Blue Underground 2k Remaster Blu-ray — Bottom: New 4K Remaster

Top: Blue Underground 2k Remaster Blu-ray — Bottom: New 4K Remaster

Top: Blue Underground 2k Remaster Blu-ray — Bottom: New 4K Remaster

Top: Blue Underground 2k Remaster Blu-ray — Bottom: New 4K Remaster

The biggest and most pleasing change with this new scan, since it’s been almost a decade since the previous disc, is a staggering new clarity to the image. Don’t mistake this for just someone turning up the sharpness all the way in the previous transfer either; there are plenty of details that were previously lost that are now present, like Tisa Farrow’s freckles, compared to the previous scan where her face just appeared to be a flesh colored mess. In the infamous eye gouging scene with Olga Karlatos, you can see every bead of sweat coming down her face and every jagged splinter of the razor-sharp piece of wood coming her way. That clarity is present throughout the film, which comparing the two releases you can see they really went back and not only scanned the film 4K, but cleaned it up and tweaked it a bit as well.

Given the extras and this new transfer, this may be the last time you need to buy Zombie on physical media. Having seen the film at numerous rep screenings, usually screened with a battered faded print, I can honestly say the film has never looked this good. Given the quality of this transfer, and the source, even if the film was put on UHD I think the difference here would be almost unnoticeable. Blue Underground has crafted a disc that feels less like a double dip with a new slipcover or steelbook and more like a definitive release that fans should feel good about picking up for once. The added soundtrack is a nice touch and only help makes this a comprehensive package, one I feel like a lot of genre fans will be seeing under the tree this holiday season.

Disc 1 (Blu-ray) Feature Film + Extras:

·NEW! Audio Commentary #1 with Troy Howarth, Author of Splintered Visions: Lucio Fulci and His Films

·Audio Commentary #2 with Star Ian McCulloch and Diabolik Magazine Editor Jason J. Slater

·NEW! When The Earth Spits Out The Dead — Interview with Stephen Thrower, Author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci

·Theatrical Trailers

· TV Spots

·Radio Spots

·Poster & Still Gallery

·Guillermo del Toro Intro

Disc 2 (Blu-ray) Extras:

·Zombie Wasteland — Interviews with Stars Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, & Al Cliver, and Actor/Stuntman Ottaviano Dell’Acqua

·Flesh Eaters on Film — Interview with Co-Producer Fabrizio De Angelis

·Deadtime Stories — Interviews with Co-Writers Elisa Briganti and (Uncredited) Dardano Sacchetti

·World of the Dead — Interviews with Cinematographer Sergio Salvati and Production & Costume Designer Walter Patriarca

·Zombi Italiano — Interviews with Special Make-Up Effects Artists Gianetto De Rossi & Maurizio Trani and Special Effects Artist Gino De Rossi

·Notes on a Headstone — Interview with Composer Fabio Frizzi

· All in the Family — Interview with Antonella Fulci

·Zombie Lover — Award-Winning Filmmaker Guillermo del Toro talks about one of his favorite films

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