CONTAINS SOM SPOILRS
Technically it is Zombi rather than Zombie - whatever the box says, Zombi is the word on the on-screen title card so that's officially what the film's called. This is one of those movies I first saw on the old precert video release from VTC, most of whose tapes came in those lovely big gold boxes. Nightmare City, Spasms, Superstition and Zulawski's thoroughly bonkers Possession all came from VTC and, as one who dates from around the video nasty era, I have a soft spot for the label. The British DVD is on the Dead Of Night label, which is at least uncut and widescreen (albeit non-anamorphic) but it's still little more than a knock-off of Fulci's Zombie Flesh Eaters with the same star on the same sets driving the same Land Rover.
Zombi Holocaust once again has Ian McCulloch, this time as a New York health inspector investigating a spate of cannibalism and grisly corpse desecrations with East Indies religious cult overtones. The trail takes him and his team of comely ladies (an anthropologist and a highly slappable journalist) and doomed idiots to the Moluccas Islands where they can traipse at length through another of the remotest jungles in the world while trying to avoid the natives. What they discover is cannibals, zombies, and a mad scientist performing brain transplant experiments in an abandoned clapboard mission hut - unsurprisingly, it's the same hut as in Zombie Flesh Eaters.
It's not brilliant. It's a very silly plot whose main function is to string the eviscerations and gratuitous nudity together but which doesn't make a lot of sense. Even granted that looking for logic and coherence in a cheap Italian grindhouse gore movie is perhaps a waste of time, there should still be something. Certainly the movie has its bursts of graphic splatter, eyeball removal and entrail ripping which, combined with the presence of the words Zombie and Holocaust in the title, make you wonder why the film never made the video nasties list when many immeasurably blander titles were proscribed (according to the IMDb, it was seized but the prosecution failed). The gore highlight is probably McCulloch merrily shoving a whirring outboard propeller into a zombie's face: a scene which is obviously and poorly faked but still far more visually disgusting than anything in Unhinged, The Burning or The Slayer.
Still, after all these years it's fun to see it again: it's harmless, amiably silly and inoffensive fluff - probably even sillier than I remember it being back in the eighties - and it isn't really very good. And sadly it will always exist in the shadow of Zombie Flesh Eaters, which I don't think is exactly a masterpiece to start with. It's not mean-spirited or actively off-putting in its violence, and the awful dialogue is good for a few cheap chuckles. But that's all. A lost or undiscovered classic it emphatically isn't.
I need your brain!