Friday, 28 June 2013

Review - Zombie Holocaust (1980 - Dir. Marino Girolami)

It is relatively easy to imagine the thought processes of Mr Girolami as he pondered his next film project: 'Mmm, what shall I knock up next. Erm... ooh, Zombie Flesh Eaters has just come out and has been really successful. Why don't I re-use the general idea of that. And the locations. And the lead actor. And a supporting actor (sadly not Al Cliver, it's Dakar). Hey, let's be crafty though. I don't want to be accused of being a dirty little homager. Er... I know. Cannibals. Let's throw some of them in too. Cannibals + Zombies = Can't fail. And to be on the safe side let's get the leading lady to display her prize winning begonias at every opportunity. Perfect.'

And that's exactly what you get with Zombie Holocaust. It's the Nisa version of Zombie Flesh Eaters. That's not to say that it's without its merits. There are some half decent gore moments, the highlight is a zombie being given a nice, close shave with an outboard motor. And due to the cannibal contingent, there has to be a bamboo type trap spike incident followed by disembowelment and a spot of light lunch. Although, I was very grateful that there was no animal cruelty, unlike other cannibal films of the time.

Ian McCulloch isn't given much to do, but is still a joy to watch. But the top performance has to be by Donald O'Brien as the mad doctor. He delivers some absolute pearlers, all with a straight face. A straight face that is hamming it up like no-one's business, but a straight face nonetheless. Watch the trailer for some of his words of wisdom. As for Alexandra Delli Colli, she gets subjects to some severe Barbie-ism of the privities. (As did Linnea Quiggley in The Return of the Living Dead.)

In fact the American trailer, where the film's title was Dr. Butcher M.D., is an absolute cracker. It bears little relation to the film but if I hadn't already seen the film, this trailer would convince me. One of my favourite trailers ever.

The zombies are of a similar ilk to the early Fulci zombies, crusty and no doubt stinky too. They manage to reach iconic status in parts. At one point the appearance of the zombies scare away all of the cannibals. And you'd be forgiven for thinking that these zombies were going to be pretty nasty if cannibals leg it from them. Sadly, they are used more as low quality henchmen rather than proper zombies, their flesh eating powers reduced to a spine-tingling ability to link arms with our hero and restrain him. It's as if they've been on a manual handling course. Great.

Nowhere near as good as Zombie Flesh Eaters then, and nowhere near as well made. But it's enjoyable enough. It just falls a bit short of the initial promise of cannibals vs zombies. Mid-table zombie fodder. But great trailer.

If you like this you could also try:
Zombie Flesh Eaters, Nightmare City.


  1. Oh man... this is a bad one. PAINFUL at times.

    The trailer is pretty rad though.

    1. I quite enjoyed it's badness. The bloke jumping out of the window near the start is complete rubbish, but really funny. As is much of the dialogue. The medical opinions in particular are great.

      You quite like Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 for it's badness so I guess they're both worth giving a try.

  2. Nightmare City is probably the best of the 'bad' ones... it's so over the top and fun. I quite like the unofficial sequels in the Zombi series. 3 & 4 are AWESOME.

    1. I loved the start of Nightmare City where the zombie come charging out of the plane and start battering everyone. I've yet to watch Zombie Creeping Flesh and that's surely got be a 'bad' one too. It's strange how the bad zombie films from the late seventies/early eighties are pretty watchable and ,like you say, fun. But I've seen a couple of more recent offerings, that will be reviewed soon, and they're really bad and not fun. One was dull and one was generally unpleasant. So on the basis that older zombie films are fun I should give Zombie 4 a watch too.