The dead are living and fighting sharks in Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBI 2, an Italian zombie movie with a screenplay by Dardano Sacchetti. The film was designed as a sequel to DAWN OF THE DEAD, but there’s little-to-no connective tissue apart from what passes as food in the zombie kingdom. Fulci’s flick is of the shoestring variety, which gives it a blue-collar quality. The special effects are truly special and Fabio Frizzi’s score pulses with illusory musical cues, underlining a sense of comprehensive mania.
ZOMBI 2 opens with the arrival of an abandoned boat in New York. The cops find a zombie on board. The daughter of the boat’s owner is Anne (Tisa Farrow) and she’s brought in for questioning. She’s as confused as anyone else and teams up with reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch) to find out what’s going on. The trail leads to the Caribbean, where a doctor (Richard Johnson) has been studying voodoo while his wife (Olga Karlatos) has been losing her damn mind. And rightly so.
ZOMBI 2 is a barefaced endeavour to capitalize on the contemporaneous zombie trend, but Fulci’s raw visual force transforms it into its own beast. That’s no small feat given the concept, but the filmmaker’s imagination and grit pushes madness down the proverbial gullet. ZOMBI 2 is undaunted in its resolve to paint a picture of unstoppable undead bedlam, with plenty of graphic set pieces flecking the rotten skyline. The final shot pulls it home, with Fulci once again showcasing the notion that evil is inevitable.
While ZOMBI 2 is correctly renowned for its obligation to graphic violence, it’s what happens between the eye-gouging and throat-ripping that helps the bloodshed sink in. Fulci’s absurdity is exemplified as his characters greet the insanity around them and the consequential nonsense makes a sick kind of sense. The world is turned upside down when the zombie gnaws on a shark, but the scene registers because all hell has literally broken loose. Fulci presents such an unhinged realm with the sluggish self-assurance of a zombie dragging a woman’s eyeball toward a splinter. And that slow, dreadful determination is chilling.