Splatter Cinema comes with the warning that the cult horror movies they screen at the Plaza Theatre are “not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.” ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST (1980) certainly tests your limits when it comes to the latter with a hearty serving of gore. Billed as a 30th anniversary screening, the Italian exploitation film is mash-up of the cannibale and zombie subgenres which were popular grindhouse fare back in the cusp of the 1970s into early 1980s. It owes a heavy debt to Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBI 2 (1979); the Wiki on it even says it reuses footage but other reviewers simply say director Marino Girolami pushed the boundaries of borrowing.
The plot is a standard mad scientist tale. A Manhattan hospital staffer and pagan god Kito-worshipper from a Pacific Island has a taste for dining out at the facility’s morgue. Government scientist Dr. Peter Chandler, played by Scottish actor Ian McCulloch (who also starred in Fulci’s ZOMBIE, as well as lots of British TV), and hot morgue assistant/anthorpologist Lori (Alexandra Delli Colli) investigate only to find the corpse-munching isn’t limited to their hospital. They launch an expedition to the island where they become the hunted by first by cannibals and finally by zombies (yes, the movie makes you wait for the undead but they do finally walk) created by the twisted Doctor Obrero (Irish character actor and perennial Nazi Donald O’Brien). And oh, attention, fanboys, Delli Colli “run[s] around naked a lot”, as one Amazon fan reviewer points out.
Yup, ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST is not exactly original in plot, but then the audience for a movie like this isn’t in it for the art. While online critics lament it’s not Fulci, they do seem to say that it works on the visceral level where over-the-top gore and humor collide. And seeing a 35mm print of something like this, well, is like a time capsule back to Times Square or, in Atlanta perhaps to the old Rialto, and that good unclean fun, right? And another good reason to remember that if it wasn’t for The Plaza, you wouldn’t have that opportunity here in Atlanta.
Be sure to come early to get your free photo taken in an incredibly realistic recreation of a scene from the movie by the crazy guys who make the Splatter Cinema series a one-of-a-kind event, Luke Godfrey and Nick Morgan.
TERRIFYING TRIVIA about ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST…
- It was re-edited and released in the US under the title of DOCTOR BUTCHER, M.D. by Aquarius Releasing in 1982. This version includes a 2.5 minute sequence from an unfinished student film by Roy Frumkes (writer of STREET TRASH ) and a different music score.
- A DVD version is available from Shriek Show (Media Blasters), both individually (yes, even in Bluray as of last year!) and in the triple feature ZOMBIE PACK, also including another Italian movie BURIAL GROUND: THE NIGHTS OF TERROR (1981) and FLESHEATER (1988), directed by and starring the recently deceased S. William Hinzman (the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD ). In a DVD extra, Frumkes talks about his footage, for which he netted $300, plus there are apparently lots of nifty other extras including a booklet with an essay about the 42nd Street grindhouse experience by Temple of Schlock‘s Chris Poggiali. We’re not saying that you can stay home and see it on DVD, just that you may want to check out the DVD later, of course.
- Soundtrack composer Nico Fidenco also scored EMANUELLE AND THE CANNIBALS (1977), BLACK EMANUELLE (1975) and CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND (2002).