Friday, 11 January 2008

Zombi 3 (1988)

You expect me to do some sort of "head" pun here, don't you?
Well, screw you. I'm not your dancing monkey.

Despite it's tenuous connection to Zombi, I wouldn't call Zombi 2 a blatant cash-in. Zombi 2 has enough low budget charm and genuinely original moments to stand on it's own two feet. Zombi 3, however, was a naked grab for cash. Lucio Fulci returned as director, but providing the script was legendary hack Claudio Fragasso. Lucio Fulci was reportedly greatly dissatisfied with the script, and when Fulci criticises your narrative cohesion you've really got problems. Eventually Fulci left the project due to frequent arguments with Fragasso, combined with ill health due to the shooting location in the budget-friendly Phillipines. The material that Fulci turned in was well under feature film length, so second unit director Bruno Mattei was asked to help Fragasso complete the film.

Did the mention of that unholy writer/director combo send a mysterious cold chill running up your spine? Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso were a force to be reckoned with during the 70s and 80s, dumping a huge number of low-budget cinematic turd-bombs into the laps of undiscriminating filmgoers. Their films are legendary for their awfulness. It is still unclear which parts of Zombi 3 are attributable to which director, but the finished product is definitely more Mattei than Fulci. This is not a good thing.

Whereas the cause of the zombie outbreak is left to speculation in Zombi and Zombi 2, a cheesy opening sequence in Zombi 3 reveals it as the result of a secret government experiment to revive the dead, unimaginatively named Death 1. For some unexplained reason, a bunch of terrorists steal the cannister during transport and the lone survivor manages to split it open and spill some of the gunk on his hand during his escape. Rather than leave the country or at least get to a hospital, he checks into a hotel before turning into a zombie and chowing down on hotel staff.

Meanwhile the scientists and military types are butting heads, the military gunning for total extermination while the scientists demand more time to find an antidote. The military wins out and the hotel residents are exterminated and the bodies burnt which makes the zombie virus airbourne (Fragasso must have seen Return of the Living Dead).

Elsewhere a group of soldiers are flirting with some chicks in a van when they are attacked by a bunch of zombie birds. One of the girls is pecked to death and the survivors head over to the now abandoned (and covered in vines, for some reason) hotel. They find a box of machine guns in the basement (I guess hotel security take their job very seriously) and they are pretty chuffed even though they haven't seen anything more than some homicidal birds.

One of the fun things about zombie films, or any monster films really, is discovering the rules. How they move, how they act, how they can be killed. The problem with this film is that there is no consistency. Sometimes they'll be creeping along, hands outstretched Romero style, other times they'll be using weapons and busting out martial arts moves. In one scene a self-propelled zombie head busts out of the fridge and flies across the room, while it's body lies in wait in a kitchen cupboard to ambush hungry passersby. In fact, ambushing people seems to be pretty popular with these zombies. Leaping out from on top of buildings, in cupboards, even busting through some random pregnant woman's stomach from under a table... they sure know how to make an entrance. This unforgivable sloppiness makes it a terribly frustrating film to watch.

This film is an explosion of incompetence. Everything about the film is cheap, tacky and sloppy. Even the gore and makeup effects are half-assed. If, like me, you enjoy watching this kind of irredeemable trash you'll probably get a kick out of it, but your idea of the worst film ever made is, say, Catwoman, you're best advised to stay away and avoid finding out just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

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