This past weekend I watched the 1980 spaghetti zombie film, Zombie Holocaust. I’d heard that it was supposed to be one of the goriest and bloodiest zombie films ever made. In some ways it was, and in others it wasn’t. (I’ll paste a YouTube clip of one of the more famous gory scenes.) In no particular order, here are my thoughts on the film:
- While not in my Top-10 All Time Favorite Zombie Films, Zombie Holocaust is definitely in my list of Top-10 Zombie Films to Watch Ironically. It’s got bad acting, bad dubbing, and unlikely scenarios that are all great to poke fun at. The “mad scientist” character has some howlingly overdone lines, and many plot contrivances are far-fetched and amusing. Also, the nude scenes are great in a “you can’t do that anymore” sort of way. (When was the last time you saw a contemporary film where the camera just lingered on the female lead as she undressed after work for no reason [or appreciable plot-point]?) A “native ritual” near the end of the film is also ripe for lampooning.
- There is an incredible amount of gore, but it is mostly related to surgery and cannibalism, not zombies. The title of this film is misleading. The zombies show up late in Zombie Holocaust. They are neither classic Voodoo zombies or Romero-style hungry walking corpses. Instead, they are like Frankenstein’s monster: sewn-together bodies, reanimated by a mad scientist and generally pissed-off at the world. And while there are a few satisfying zombie-killing moments (see appended video), too much of the violence (for my taste) involved people being restrained on operating tables and having organs removed by a mad doctor, or being held down and eaten alive by cannibals. (While zombie movie gore is usually comical and fun, the gore in Zombie Holocaust felt mean-spirited. [Restrained people begging for mercy whilst being horribly tortured, etc…] It was more along the lines of the violence in films like Hostel 2.)
- The zombies looked pretty cool. Despite obvious budget limitations, the zombies were well-designed and effectively creepy. Yay!
- The title makes no sense. “Holocaust” is a pretty loaded word, and there is no real suggestion of a holocaust of any kind in Zombie Holocaust. I understand that this was the third film in a series, and that they might have been trying to avoid calling it Zombi 3 or something, but c’mon. You’re never going to see Matrix: Holocaust or Indiana Jones: Holocaust. (I know that likely it was just some marketing guys who came up with a controversial title for sensationalism’s sake, but still…)