A look back at Lucio Fulci's deranged horror film 'Zombie' with one of the great all-time genre images
Welcome to The Motion/Captured Must-See Project.
When I started this last year, I didn't have a set publication schedule. It was only this year that I decided that it should run every Thursday. I don't have a set agenda for what's going to get covered when, and it's not organized by any chronlogy or theme. That makes it hard to figure out what to publish, and so for the first 26 entries on the list, I decided to go from A-Z, picking one film for each letter. When I started, I wasn't even sure what the 26 titles would be, with one exception.
I always knew that I'd be writing about Lucio Fulci when I got to that last letter.
It would have been easy to pick the Costa-Gravas film "Z" for this entry, and at some point, we'll loop back around to talk about it, but one of the points of my list is that the true essentials, the films that have shaped me, are made up of equal parts high and low art. Film snobs creep me out just as much as fanboys in their extremism. I think one of the things that is glorious about cinema is how it encompasses everything.
Lucio Fulci, like many Italian genre filmmakers, tried his hand at a number of filmic styles over the course of his career, including spaghetti westerns, giallo thrillers, and gangster films. Today, though, he’s probably best known for his gore films like "House By The Cemetary," "Gates Of Hell," "The Beyond," and, of course, 1979's "Zombi 2," which was released in America as "Zombie." It's the film that made his reputation. Personally, I think his best film is "The Psychic," which is also worth discussion at some point, but for now, let's look at the version of "Zombie" that Blue Underground released on DVD a few years back.
Many people label this film a knock-off of George Romero’s "of the Dead" series, but that’s really not fair. This has more in common with the traditional voodoo origin of zombies than with Romero’s world. There are some great ideas here, and even if the film is marred by a number of lousy performances in pretty much every major role (including wooden work by Tisa Farrow, Mia’s look-alike sister), horror fans will appreciate...
... aw, hell, I’m working really hard to sound serious about this, when all I really want to say is ZOMBIE VERSUS SHARK! ZOMBIE VERSUS SHARK! ZOMBIE VERSUS SHARK! ZOMBIE VERSUS SHARK!
If you've seen the film, you know what I mean, and if you haven't, check out that image at the head of the article. Lucio Fulci took some dude in zombie make-up, stuck him underwater, and then had him wrestle an actual shark. It's one of the most insane images I've ever seen in a film, and it's just a practical gag. In this age of CGI, when you can find a way to create anything you want on film, it's worth remembering that for many filmmakers, it was never an option to cheat. If they wanted to put an image on film, they had to somehow make that thing happen in front of a camera, and the results can sometimes work so well that it almost doesn't matter what else happens in a film.
Case in point, this movie has some other smart and nasty set pieces. There are some great scenes in New York onboard a boat that make the most of a brief location shoot, and there’s some gnarly gore on the island that serves as the setting for most of the movie, and there’s even a bit of nudity that feels like a calculated game of one-upsmanship in response to Jaqueline Bisset’s iconic appearance in THE DEEP. But above and beyond any of that... ZOMBIE VERSUS SHARK! ZOMBIE VERSUS SHARK! ZOMBIE VERSUS SHARK! ZOMBIE VERSUS SHARK!
That's the textbook definition of a must-see where I come from.
Next week, we're going to finally drop the alphabetical thing which means I can go anywhere I want with the column. I'm not sure where we're going to start, and I have no idea how long this column will continue, but what I want to state plainly is that each and every Thursday (unless we're postponed by on-site festival coverage or Comic-Con), I'm going to bring you a piece about one of the many films that I consider vital steps in my own film education, a process that continues each and every day.
Thanks for hanging with it so far, and here's hoping we've got a lot more to talk about in the future.
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2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
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