42nd Street Cinema

Zombie Holocaust (1980)

Marino Girolami's genre melting zombie-cannibal-crossover caper, Zombie Holocaust/Zombi Holocaust/Dr. Butcher M.D.
Yet, while the initial concept of blending two of the most popular Italian exploitation sub-genres may sound like a grizzly thrill ride, sadly the final product is a poorly executed affair, with the only real redeeming quality being the gore effects.

As an obvious attempt to cash-in on the spate of gory zombie and cannibal films, writer & producer Fabrizio De Angelis, who also served as the producer on Fulci's Zombi 2 (1979) decided to take, what is essentially the whole plot of Zombi 2 and re-write it with cannibals thrown into the mix, while clearly opting for a title close enough to Deodato's Cannibal Holocaust (1980) as possible. Managing to lack both the style and production of the aforementioned films, Zombie Holocaust feels closer to a D'Amato production, not far off the titillating Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals/Emanuelle e gli ultimi cannibali (1977).

Starring: Ian McCulloch, Alexandra Delli Colli, Sherry Buchanan, Peter O'Neal, Donald O'Brien, Dakar and Walter Patriarca.

Marino Girolami, father to Enzo G. Castellari's father and an ex-European boxing champion, creates an absurd non-linear scenario within Zombie Holocaust. Rather than a group of 'survivors' holding off against a constant onslaught of the living dead within a fortified area, à la George A. Romero, he opts for a nonsensical narrative set on an idyllic tropical island, inhabited by a psychotic doctor who transforms people into zombies in a bizarre attempt to prolong human life and a primitive cannibal tribe. Most of the European cast are devoured by cannibals and remaining few are later attacked by random roaming zombies, only then to be captured and be on the receiving end of the crazed doctor's scalpel.

The characters involved in this ridiculous plot are no more imaginative than 2 wheels on a bicycle. McCulloch's role as a policeman/doctor (he's introduced as a policeman but his character is often referred to as Dr.), Dr. Peter Chandler. McCulloch's role is essentially a reprisal of Peter West, the investigative reporter from Zombi 2. He's approached by Lori Ridgeway, in an attempt to uncover who's behind the recent string of bodily mutilations at the morgue. Lori is portrayed by the ever-buxom Alexandra Delli Colli, who would later make an appearance in Fulci's The New York Ripper/Lo squartatore di New York (1982).

Through the understanding of a tribal insignia the two take off to the jungles of Southeast Asia in a quest to learn more. It is at this point we're introduced to Dr. Obrero who is hammed to perfection by poor man's Kurt Russell - Donald O'Brien. Dakar also shows his face as the insignificant Molotto. The rest of the characters are merely there to be gruesomely eviscerated.

Zombie Holocaust is a true example of scraping of the barrel for cinematic ideas and gathering nothing more than a set of shocking images aimed to please gorehounds and repulse the squeamish. Trickling alongside that are the mandatory subtexts of racist ideologies, degradation of women and sociopolitical issues.

2 Stars


Anonymous said...

I love zombie Holocaust! This is a guilty movie pleasure of mine, along with stuff like:
Night of the Demon (1980)
Basket Case
Zombie Creeping flesh
Nightmare City
Humanoids from the Deep

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