Dir. Marino Girolami
Zombie Holocaust is one awesome zombie-taking-an-outboard-motor-to-the-grill scene bookended by 80 minutes of plot holes, non sequiturs and recycled story lines.
Produced by Fabrizio De Angelis, who gave us Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, as a quickie cash in sequel, this spaghetti shocker(aka Zombie 3 [but not this Zombie 3 (which sucked so hard Fulci quit halfway through, letting Bruno Mattei wear the funk of shame for the final product) [by the way, how long to do you think I can keep this embedded parenthesis thing going?]] and Dr. Butcher M.D.) reverse engineers that Fulcis plot (dragging Ian McCulloch along for another spin as a researcher). It starts in New York and works its way back to a zombie and cannibal infested island somewhere in the Pacific. Make that cannibal infested island where the odd zombie staggers around some 50 minutes into the film.
You see, expat Asians across America have suddenly gone all cannibal on their neighbors, including a hospital janitor who slinks around his workplace giallo style hacking off limbs and ripping out organs of patients to get his fix. The intrepid Dr. Peter Chandler (McCulloch) and part time anthropologist Lori Ridgeway(as well as a pair of fairly obvious zombie baits) trace the Asian offenders back to a cult living on the remote island of Keto, famed for its love of Manwiches made from real men. As luck would have it, Lori spent her childhood near the island though she shows no familiarity with its customs, culture, language and generally staggers around looking useless and baffled once they get there. Even after the tribe’s sacrificial knife, which Lori kept as a keepsake, was stolen from her apartment.
These idiots can’t get to the island to be devoured by cannibals soon enough, and De Angelis is a man smart enough to quickly deliver what his audience craves.
Zombology: When they finally fucking show up, again, nearly an hour into a movie called Zombie fucking Holocaust, these zombies are the byproduct of a mad scientist’s extracurricular experiments on the local island. Skulls get cracked open and brains are transplanted into dead bodies in order to…something. The movie’s not really clear on motivation here. These zombies are not carnivorous, either. That honor is reserved for the local cannibals. In fact, the shambling undead are smart enough to follow simple orders and use some basic tools.
This is the kind of film the Hell of the Living Dead scale was pretty much invented for. Both films just wallow in bigoted cultural fetishism and exploitation. With Hell, it was abused stock footage from Papua New Guinea while Zombie Holocaust forces a bunch of underpaid Asian extras to run around in leather thongs and pretend to eat people while the smug Europeans degrade them as backwards and primitive within earshot, not exactly endearing themselves to the locals. For its crimes against anthropology, train-sized plot holes (seriously, how did the stolen sacrificial knife make it back to the island and why does nobody seem to care when it shows up again?), absolutely incomprehensible climax and dearth of titular zombies actually holocausting anything, it sucks 53 percent as bad as Hell of the Living Dead.