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The 3 in the title refers to the three movies stitched together to make this petrified toad of a movie, none of them seemingly good on their own, either. And if we want to be up front, there's nothing I can say about how bad this movie is that won't make it sound better and better to those inclined to read any further. Fulci's 1987 follow-up to his seminal 1979 splatter-fest Zombie (to you stateside fools, but Zombi 2 to Europe) is no Zombie, it's hardly even Fulci's movie. It's three movies, all of them terrible, but when stitched together by some random Italian accountant, are like a red velvet cake with tarantulas crawling all over it.
Copping dutifully from Return of the Living Dead, Zombie 3 hinges on the ashes from burning zombie corpses infecting others as they waft through the air or sink into the groundwater. (And maybe if the ROTLD crew had been in the Philippines, snorting cocaine, shooting heroin, and getting their 8 glasses of whisky a day (or more), they might have come up with this lamentable effort.) Some dipshit scientist and his girlfriend/assistant (or whatever) kind-of team up with some military party-boys and their new-found girlfriends to fight off a bunch of ninja-zombies who fly out of the cupboards or sprint after you with a chain-saw, unless they're slowly staggering like a real Fulci zombie. Somehow it all works out, except for that shock ending.
I'm sorry, did I spoil it for you? Don't despair, there's no benefit to be derived from going into this movie blind! And for the three of you still reading, you just want to know if the movie delivers on any cinematic score at all, or which 'so bad' category it belongs in. I'm struggling with that myself. I see a note where I describe the movie as 'lugubrious and workmanlike'. I notice later I'm speculating as to whether at the halfway-point they deliberately switched the genre from 'action-horror' to 'horror-comedy'. Of the whole effort, I opine that they can't even get simple aspects like lighting to conform to a cohesive feeling. So yeah, we're having FUN!
As with any Italian/Filipino action-horror-comedy, the entire movie sucks on every level, from production to script to acting, to overdubbing, cinematography, editing, whatever you want. Each weakness highlights the next, so when you notice little things like a shot down a hallway a little off-level for no reason, then, when a zombie gently presses the maids face into the mirror, and starts rubbing it around, you wonder why she's screaming and blood is spraying everywhere. But then a ninja zombie drops from the ceiling, grabbing your neck in a leg-lock, and the scientist represses a stutter while very slowly yelling at the army man, and you never want to see another Bruno Mattei movie again, even though they're so much fun. (As much as Claudio Fragasso and Lucio Fulci want you to think they had something to do with this, like one scene looks like Fulci, while most of it screams Mattei.)
Skip It, which means Highly Recommended for you Euro-trash masochists.
Zombie 3 leaps out at us on Severin's Blu-ray in a 1.78:1 ratio, AVC encoded 1080p transfer of an uncut 2k scan. It's a scan that highlights the ethos of the production: get it in the can, so we get to enjoy instances of heavy grain, both film grain, and sometimes digital grain, and details that also run the gamut. There's a little bit of damage here and there, though nothing too distracting, and there are a few instances overt compression issues as well. Colors are garish, but rich, and not entirely natural, though much of that appears to be entirely intentional, with a watery, gauzy, greenish palette making for a zombie-riffic atmosphere.
Your Master Audio 2.0 mono audio track does a fine job recreating the overdubbed dialog, with no real issues of damage from the source track, while the score is reproduced in robust fashion. Dialog syncing with lip movements is a joke, of course, but that's half the fun.
Severin includes a bunch of interviews as the primary extras for this release, but in addition you get an awesome Soundtrack CD which should delight certain exploitation fans. There is a fine Commentary Track from stars Deran Sarafian and Beatrice Ring, both of whom have some fun insights into the insanity. Interviews include about 20-minutes of co-director Claudio Fragasso and screenwriter/wife Rosella Drudi, as well as a 9-minute interview with 'replacement director' Bruno Mattei, who left his mark all over the movie. Marina Loi gets 5 minutes to explain her part, while another interview gives FX artist Franco Girolamo 5 minutes to show his stuff. Lastly, stunt/actors Massimo Vanni and Ottaviano Dell'Acqua wax poetic for 5 minutes on their contributions.
Severin Films continues doing yeoman's work delivering unloved exploitation shockers such as Zombie 3 on an unwilling public. This action-zombie epic revels in illogic, poor dubbing, general goofiness and lots of zombies getting shot as they leap from palm trees. Only purists and masochists need to check this out, although with a decent picture, and some cool extras, Severin makes the mess hard to ignore. Right-minded folks should Skip It, while wackos may want to put this release on their shelves despite all evidence to the contrary.
- Kurt Dahlke