“Zombie” at 40: Still A Fun Italian Vacation From Good Taste

July is the 40th anniversary of the cult Italian gore-fest "Zombie."

An abandoned boat that belongs to a scientist is found with a zombie off the New York City coast. That’s where the bloody, over-the-top fun of Zombie — which turns 40 this week — begins.

The scientist’s daughter travels to a Caribbean island cursed by voodoo that’s turning its residents into flesh-eating zombies. Mayhem ensues. The 1980 film is directed by Lucio Fulci, known as “The Godfather of Gore,” who also directed The New York Ripper, Don’t Torture a Duckling, and the Gates of Hell trilogy.

The film was released in Italy as Zombi 2, intended as an Italian sequel to 1978’s Dawn of the Dead. The studio wanted to capitalize on the success of George A. Romero’s classic and retitled it Zombi 2 without Fulci’s permission. The film’s actual title, simply Zombie, was kept for the American release.

Here’s a few other facts to chew on while viewing:

  • Movie-goers were given “barf bags” when watching the film in theaters. The immense amount of violence and gore was uncommon for a horror film at the time.
  • In the famous zombie vs. shark scene, the zombie’s arm gets bitten off by the shark. But there is an error in which we see the arm detached before the shark rips it off.
  • The crew used a real tiger shark for the shark scene. The shark’s trainer, Ramon Bravo, fed the shark and used sedatives right before filming.

A clip of the zombie vs. shark scene