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Zombie 3 (1988)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/29/2018
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/15/2018
I've said many times before that I'm a film lover and not a film historian, so I don't know all of the facts from the annals of movies. So, I'm not sure when it happened, but I have to assume that in the early days of film, it didn't take very long for someone to look at a successful movie and think, "I'm going to make something similar." Copycats, homages, and straight-up rip-offs became a mainstay of cinema, to the point that we barely give them a second-thought. These movies often follow odd trends, with Italian zombie movies being a good example. When Lucio Fulci'sZombi 2 became a hit in Italy in 1979, the doppelgangers came out of the woodwork. Suddenly, we had a slew of movies which featured zombies in tropical locales. So, it wasn't surprising when Fulci returned (sort of) with Zombie 3.
Zombie 3 opens in a laboratory where Professor Holder (Robert Marius) is experimenting with a drug called “Death One”. We aren’t told what the drug is supposed to do, but it makes the human subject pretty much melt. Following this, a sample of the drug is stolen. Soldiers catch the culprit, who dies. Against Holder’s wishes, General Morton (Mike Monty), the military man in charge of the study, orders the body cremated. The smoke from the crematorium spreads across the landscape and soon the living dead begin to appear, munching on anyone that they can catch. Three soldiers on-leave (I guess) -- Kenny (Deran Sarafian), Roger (Richard Raymond), and Bo (Alex McBride) -- encounter a group of vacationers in an RV. Their light-flirting is suddenly interrupted when birds attack the RV. The group then goes to an abandoned resort looking for help. They are soon joined by Patricia (Beatrice Ring), and these survivors try to find a way to escape from the area.
Zombie 3 is one of those films where the behind-the-scenes story is far more interesting than the movie itself. Following the success of Zombi 2, producers wanted Director Lucio Fulci to return for a sequel and nearly a decade later, he finally agreed. So, a crew headed to the Philippines to shoot the film. However, there were many complications. Fulci was very ill and it was difficult for him to work. Also, he was reportedly upset that he wasn't given the budget which he needed to properly shoot the script, so he shot nearly an hour of the characters canoeing down a river. When Fulci's footage was cobbled together, there wasn't enough material to make a feature-length film. So, Screenwriter Claudio Fragasso andHell of the Living Dead Director Bruno Mattei were brought in to try to save the movie...despite the fact that most of the cast had left. Therefore, some of the footage with the soldiers on leave and the men in the white suits searching for the thief was shot later and edited into Fulci's work. This explains why a lot of the movie doesn't gel -- it's two movies which have been stitched together.
Again, that story holds more drama than the movie itself. What we get with Zombie 3 is pretty standard post-Zombi 2 Italian zombie movie fare. It's another entry which takes place mostly in jungle settings and, for some reason, most of the zombies look as if they are wearing pajamas. The lack of a truly cohesive or intriguing story means that the movie is simply one scene after another of the characters either running from zombies or discussing how they are going to next run from zombies. The action also occasionally cuts back to Professor Holder and General Morton arguing about how to handle the epidemic. Not only does the interrupt the attempted flow of the film, these scenes are awkwardly paced, as Morton speaks very slowly. We also get the odd attempts to Americanize things, such as the soldiers and the radio announcer (the enigmatic Blueheart) listing rescue shelters which sound suspiciously like locales in California.
Having said that, this is still an Italian horror film, so there are some things which must be seen to be believed, most of which reside squarely in the gore department. As with many of the movies in this sub-genre, Zombie 3 offers some violent moments which border on non-sensical, where people bleed too much or too easily, and if this is your cup of tea, the movie won't disappoint in this department. In the end, Zombie 3 is a patchwork movie which contains a plot somewhat stolen from Return of the Living Dead and it certainly doesn't representative the controversial Fulci at its best. General audiences may wonder what in the world is going on here, but Italian zombie competists will find something to like.
Zombie 3 also contains a bird attack which is a sight to behold on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Severin Films. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. Someone at Severin clearly put a lot of work into cleaning up the film, as this is an impressive transfer. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only mild grain and minimal defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, most notably the greens and the image is never overly dark or bright. The detail is noteworthy (we can see sweat droplets on the actors' faces) and the image avoids having the flat look which can plague films from this era. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio mono track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.6 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Aside from the inescapable dubbing effects, the track is serviceable, as the music doesn't trample on the dialogue. There is no hissing or popping on the track either.
The Zombie 3 Blu-ray Disc contains several extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from actors Deran Sarafian and Beatrice Ring. "The Last Zombie" (19 minutes) is an interview with Screenwriters Claudio Fragasso and Rossella Drudi. This is a very open and honest interview, complete with intrusive tabby cat, in which the duo share the behind-the-scenes stories mentioned above involving the fact that Zombie 3 is essentially two movies which have been stitched together. "Tough Guys" (5 minutes) offers an interview with actors/stuntmen Massimo Vanni and Ottaviano Dell'Acqua who talk about their experiences on the film and reveal that the movie utilized sets which were built for Apocalypse Now. "The Problem Solver" (9 minutes) gives Bruno Mattei a chance to talk about how he got involved with the movie and was part of salvaging Fulci's footage. Actress Marina Loi talks about getting the part of the conditions on the set in "Swimming with Zombies" (5 minutes). "In the Zombie Factory" (6 minutes) brings us an interview with FX Artist Franco Di Girolamo who talks about specific scenes from the film. The final extra is a TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long