Director: Marino Girolami | 90 minuten | horror | Acteurs: Ian McCulloch, Alexandra Delli Colli, Sherry Buchanan, Peter O’Neal, Donald O’Brien, Dakkar, Walter Patriarca, Linda Furnis, Roberto Resra, Franco Ukmar, Giovanni Ukmar, Angelo Ragusa
Thanks to the wonders of the DVD, movies are popping up on the store’s shelves that were previously only found on the dusty shelves of cult video stores. This is also the case with ‘Zombie Holocaust’, which, thanks to the Dutch Shock label, makes the Dutch living room unsafe again.
If you find yourself in a scene a few seconds after the start of the movie where someone is removing the hand from a corpse with a blunt saw, you know you’re dealing with an obscure movie. ‘Zombie Holocaust’ leaves little to the imagination and Girolami seizes every opportunity to present some unsalted bloodshed to the viewer. The film was made to cope with the zombie hype that was set in motion by ‘Dawn of the Dead’ in the late 1970s and the film does this shamelessly. Eyeballs are expressed, heads scalped, and guts eaten. Storyline and characters are forgotten for the sake of convenience.
The film is a textbook example of Italian pragmatism, filled with helpless women and tough men. Problems are solved with guns and when a zombie grunts gloomily at you, you hit his brain. The cultural relativism of a film like ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ also falls on deaf ears with Girolami. The nefarious natives that are encountered on the island of Kito are preventively shot, without the question being asked whether the behavior of Western people is not at least as reprehensible. The film makes another attempt to address this theme in a forced dialogue at the beginning of the film, but seems to soon exchange this socially relevant question for 90 minutes of unabashed ragging in the jungle.
While watching the movie, you constantly wonder if you’re watching ‘Zombi 2’ with cannibals or ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ with zombies. Either way, you don’t look at anything original for the first hour. It’s not until the last half hour, when the gruesome experiments of Dr. Obrero come to light, the film begins to show a somewhat individual character. Even though it still all looks suspiciously like ‘Zombi 2’. In any case, the eclectic script provides enough fun for the viewer with a strong stomach.
‘Zombie Holocaust’ is a film that lends itself perfectly to a DVD release. Thanks to the wonderful extras that we are used to from Shock DVD, we are presented with a unique view of the film. The addition of trailers and authentic promotional material exposes the bizarre marketing campaign behind the film. In ‘Zombie Holocaust’ they try to incorporate no fewer than three marketing perspectives into the script. The film simultaneously tries to capitalize on the success of Lucio Fulci’s ‘Zombi 2’, Ruggero Deodato’s ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ and the well-known mad scientist motif. The trailers on the DVD provide an interesting look at the producers’ marketing strategy. With clever editing and title replacement, the film could be sold as the mad scientist epic ‘Dr. Butcher MD
Smart marketing or not, ‘Zombie Holocaust’ more than lives up to its sensational promise. The film offers no big surprises or memorable scenes, but enough gore and guts to keep you entertained for an hour and a half. It is precisely the lack of pretension that makes this film a feast for the eyes. A smooth editing ensures that you as a viewer jump from one massacre to the next, but that it does not take too long. The flat script is therefore not suitable for a long and nuanced elaboration, but all the more for a quick punch in the stomach. An obligatory purchase for any fan of Italian exploitation cinema.