Year of Release: 1988
Also Known As: Zombie 3, Zombie Flesh Eaters 2
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 96 minutes (1:36)
Director: Lucio Fulci, Claudio Fragasso, Bruno Mattei
Deran Sarafian ... Kenny Waters
Beatrice Ring ... Patricia
Ottaviano Dell'Acqua ... Roger Smith
Massimo Vanni ... Bo
Ulli Reinthaler ... Nancy
Marina Loi ... Carole
Deborah Bergamini ... Lia
Claudio Fragasso ... Soldier at Crematorium (uncredited)
Bruno Mattei ... Soldier at Crematorium (uncredited)
A group of terrorists release a cloud of putrefying toxic waste, causing the local population to mutate into a mass of ferocious, flesh-chomping zombies!
A group of young people led by Kenny and Patricia are barricaded in a hotel and seek refuge at an abandoned military base. Together, they must rely on their most savage instincts to survive the apocalyptic onslaught of blood-crazed ghouls.
Zombi 3, remindin' us that in the zombie apocalypse, the gender reveal parties are always killer.
And speakin' of things that emerge from the darkness to usher in doom, I'm not tryna incite any further violence against our local weather oracle or anything, but when Murray predicted another six weeks of winter back on February 2nd it woulda been nice if he'd specified that that was a minimum.
Seriously - we're comin' up on week 10 here and it's gettin' so bad that yesterday I coulda sworn I saw a coupla Norwegians in a helicopter tryna gun down a sled dog. Turns out it was just some ecosexuals from the west side tryna tranquilize a rogue wolf for transport, but if you've been outside lately you can see how easy it'd be to make that mistake.
Don't get me wrong, I got nothin' against snow. I'm not one of these guys who forks over $12,000 on a plow to win a dick measurin' contest against Old Man Winter, but after spendin' mosta the night drivin' around in a blizzard lookin' for gooey calves I can see why some folks're gettin' a little resentful.
I guess it's kinda my own fault bein's I was the one who accidentally put Skunky on the shelf by challengin' the notion that 37 degrees is an acceptable temperature for a meat freezer. Normally he does his own calvin', but given he's been camped out in the bathroom the past couple days Tetnis, Billy Hilliard, and I've been pickin' up the slack while he gets his shit sorted. 'Course, after what happened last night I think I got 'im beat in terms of unscheduled bowel movements.
Really didn't seem like such a bad gig at first - I ran the Grime Time's projector to help pass the time while we patrolled, and typically about the worst thing that happens is gettin' slathered in twat snot or kicked in the ribs while you're movin' the newborns to the barn. Typically.
Musta been about 4:30 in the AM when it happened. I'd just started The Phantom Planet and taken Skunky's old Honda ATC250 around the backside of Casa de Hernandez to check on a heifer I'd been watchin' mosta the night on account of 'er bein' fatter'n the funnel cake line at the Iowa State Fair and sure enough, when Apollo and I went back to check on 'er - SLAP. Ya never forget that sound - kinda like droppin' a wet towel into an empty hamper. After that you're usually treated to this nasty gurglin' sound like a constipated kitchen sink after a clog movement, 'cept in this case I only got about two seconds worth before I heard this loud scrapin' sound as the little moos became muffled and increasingly distant and by the time I'd shut the engine off on the 3-wheeler all I could find was a little melted patch in the snow leadin' into a big-ass hole in the ground.
Next thing I know mama cow's freakin' out like a substitute teacher who's just had the insurance declined on their Xanax prescription and Apollo's got his head stuffed in the hole barkin' to beat hell, but fortunately, I knew exactly how to handle the situation.
"Hey! Getcher face outta there! I raised you better'n that. You wanna get Cujoed?!" I hollered.
Apollo pulled his head outta the hole and looked at me like one of those dirty-faced kids from the Save the Children's Fund ads.
"Oh, come on! Don't gimmie that look. We'll never get it outta there and we'll catch our deaths tryin'," I complained.
Apollo laid down beside the hole and made a noise like his danglers were trapped between the flaps of a poolside lounge chair.
"Alright! We'll TRY. But I swear to God, when you're gone I'm gettin' a cat," I griped, reachin' for my walkie.
I could hear the calf gettin' more'n more distressed while I waited on Tetnis and Billy, but a bend in the tunnel prevented my flashlight from sheddin' any light on what was happenin' down there. Damn fortunate for the calf too, 'cause had I known I'da gotten outta Dodge that instant and left the poor critter to freeze.
"So, basically, you lost a cow down a hole," Tetnis summarized, peering into the tunnel.
"I didn't lose anything. I know exactly where it is," I corrected.
"Whaddya wan' uf uh do?" Billy queried, crouchin' down beside the passage and cuppin' his hand around his ear.
"I dunno - rope it, dig it out, somethin'. Apollo's gettin' Post Traumatic Steer Disorder," I explained, tryna calm the poor guy down.
"Prowwy kiow ih dwaggin' ih ow," Billy estimated.
"Agreed. Diggin's no good either; ground's froze up like a Siberian bidet," Tetnis added.
"Fine. Whatever. So I guess somebody's gonna hafta crawl in after it. One, two, three, not it!" I barked.
Billy let out a groan and turned to console Ma Cow while Tetnis rubbed the bridge of his nose in exasperation.
"Don'tcha think it's a little early in the morning for a remark that stupid?" Tetnis asked.
"You're right. Wait here, I'll go get Skunky. He can excavate his own cheeseburger," I asserted before givin' up and acceptin' the inevitable.
It really was a good-sized hole, but both Billy and Tetnis hafta duck just to clear the doorway to Mack's Stacks of Many Snacks and I knew it.
"Alright, I'll go. But you remember this when you're makin' out your fee for my medical treatment," I snapped.
"And I'm gonna need your Maglite, Billy," I demanded.
"Why? You've aweady gah a fwafwigh'," he asked.
"That's right, and I'm gonna use it. The Maglite is to bash the skull of whatever prehistoric horror's lurkin' down there waitin' for a stupid asshole to come rollin' into its mess hall," I expounded.
At least Apollo had my back. He followed me down the burrow until it opened up into an underground cave, or so it seemed at the time.
What happened next notwithstanding, the story behind the cave is actually pretty interesting. Apparently, Skunky's folks went all in on that Red Scare business and contracted somebody to build 'em an underground bomb shelter in preparation for the day the Rooskies inevitably nuked us into Mad Max Land but told no one, fearing a mob might try to force its way in and claim it for their own a la Twilight Zone.
The calf, meanwhile, was a little chilly but no worse for wear, and after I was able to get it outta there, pushin' it in front of me as I went, I decided to crawl back down to take another look at the world's most expensive time capsule while Apollo and Bossy licked all the goo offa the little miracle.
At one time the place musta been stocked with hundreds of mason jars fulla canned vegetables, meat, and God knows what else, but upon closer examination, I found mosta the jars were empty, and, in most cases, shattered on the concrete floor.
'Course what really made me realize I'd stepped in it was when I spotted some bones stickin' out from under one of the cots. Bovine by the looks of 'em. Skunky hadn't mentioned losin' any cattle recently, but then, he's not known for his attention to detail, and the remains explained both the size of the tunnel and its purpose.
I shone my flashlight around one last time just in case I'd missed any important details that a judge might ask about down the road and caught sight of somethin' I'd managed to miss up to that point - eyes, coupla hundred of 'em I'd estimate.
I dunno how long packrats live exactly, but that gnarly sombitch that hitched a ride to town inside the chest cavity of Cleave Furguson's buck back in '16 and then amassed an army with which to lay siege to the Grime Time the following year had obviously survived that battle, discovered the shelter/food stores, and rebuilt his forces.
I didn't stick around to find out if he was still with 'em 'cause the moment my flashlight hit 'em all huddled together inside a tattered sleepin' bag they rushed the tunnel and durn near ate clean through my socks while I scrambled outta there.
Billy and Tetnis grabbed ahold of my coveralls and yanked me outta there before the little disease vectors could dig into my tender vittles and thankfully they wouldn't leave the hole 'cause of all the snow, but this inclement weather can't possibly last much longer, and when it finally breaks the aftermath's gonna make a New York City subway ride look like An American Tail.
By the time they'd gotten everything I'd seen outta me nobody was in the mood to blink much less sleep, so we took one last look over the pasture and gunned it back to the house to get a grip on ourselves and discuss what to do about the latest Willard reboot set to kick off production at the drive-in.
In all the excitement I'd plum forgotten it was Easter mornin', but thankfully the J-man didn't forget about US or we'da spent it stuck between the teeth of a buncha rabid rodents. 'Course as soon as I'd realized my oversight I immediately moved to make amends by screenin' an appropriate cinematic selection that'd honor the big cheese on the Day of Resurrection. I guess in hindsight it probably wasn't the best way to show our appreciation when measured from a qualitative perspective, but when you think about it watchin' Zombi 3 is almost as painful as bein' nailed to a cross, so what the heck.
I guess the important thing isn't necessarily how you celebrate so long as you do, but I always prefer to celebrate with the Italians 'cause they were cool enough to build a 30 billion dollar pad for Jesus to crash in until he feels like comin' back for another round of abuse. Anyway, to show my appreciation to everybody who's helped raise the dead over the years, I've collected a few observations that I'd like to share now as evidence of my own willingness to suffer for the betterment of humanity. First, only Nixon could go to China, and only Rocky could chase the chicken. Second, once the zombie plague has taken root, the hotel service bites. And third, the only thing scarier than tryna pull off a heist at a germ warfare laboratory is the fence you'll hafta deal with if it succeeds.
The movie begins at a research facility where a coupla doctors're injectin' some germophobic Buddhist in a hyperbaric chamber with a serum that forces his insides to rethink their livin' arrangement until the internal pressure causes 'im to burst outta the container lookin' like a bowl of rigatoni that got left in the microwave for 20 minutes. The scientician in charge of the Chernobyl C.H.U.D. initiative is so disgusted that he decides to tender his resignation and go volunteer at the Vatican leper shelter until he's square with God, only when he tries turnin' his research over to a doctor with a stronger gag reflex these eco-terrorists in a Ford Econoline steal the specimens and shoot it out with the security detail, allowin' the sole survivor to scoop up the bio-containment tackle box and flee into the jungle. The hanta-junta runnin' the joint sends out a crosseyed helicopter sniper to hunt the guy down like a javelina hog, and after devastatin' the local ground squirrel population with friendly fire a shot finally wings the plague pirate and busts open his griefcase - shatterin' its contents and splashin' the secret sepsis sauce into his gunshot wound. Within minutes he looks like Andy Kaufman passed out in a bowl of guacamole, so he hasta check into a hotel and lop his hand off to try to stop the spread of his deep vein zombosis only to learn that ship has sailed, and when the maid drops by to apply a protective layer of Raid to his bedsheets he grabs 'er and makes 'imself a pitcher of fresh-squeezed gorange juice. Then the Manila guerrillas S.W.A.T. the resort so they can bring all the bodies back to their base and have a bubonic barbecue and it's lookin' like mission accomplished till the epidemic engineer gets all P.O.'d and starts rantin' about airborne contagion spreadin' from the ashes but it's too late 'cause the crematorium's already elected a new pope.
So now there's a papal plume of gangrenous gas waftin' through town and pretty quick this couple (Patricia and Glen) drivin' a '64 Sting Ray comes across a buncha dead birds in the road and decide to stop and handle as many of 'em as possible until one of 'em perks up and pecks Glen's face fulla Avian flu. Elsewhere, three soldiers in a Jeep (Kenny, Roger, Bo) are followin' some chicks in a motorhome (Nancy, Carole, and Lia) tryna get a look under their hoods, when all the sudden the trailer gets attacked by flock 'em sock 'em fowl that give Lia the Tippi Hedren treatment and force the two groups to take refuge in the remains of a recently shuttered resort. Nobody really wants to sit around and watch the gal's mold sores break open, so Bo and Carole go for help until the radiator starts smokin' like the crowd at a Snoop Dog concert and when Carole goes lookin' for roadside assistance this wiseass zombie pushes 'er out a second story window into the lily pond of a tourist trap. By the time Bo fishes 'er out she's been stricken by an incurable case of the munchies and no longer meets the height requirement for any of the good rides at Euro Disneyland, but he can't really stop to ponder his situation long 'cause next thing ya know the place is overrun with necrotic ninjas and he hasta make a run for it 'cause everybody was kung fu biting. He makes it to the highway where he hitches a ride with Patricia, only about that time Glen turns zombie on 'em and they hafta pull over 'cause he refuses to wear his seatbelt and when it seems like they're finally gettin' a handle on 'im his friends show up for the Boffet luncheon while Patricia dives off the train trestle into the river 'cause it's preferable to sittin' in the urpies Glen left on the Sting Ray's driver seat.
Patricia survives the molar plunge but leads the zombies to the resort where they chow down on a few members of the supporting cast until the survivors decide to seek out better accommodations. They trudge on through the night until Roger goes ahead to scout around and gets jumped by a coupla necrotic acrobats who try infectin' 'im with their pestolence, but he just monkey flips one into the region's water supply and smooshes another's face with a plank. This buys the group enough time to rip off a coupla canoes and head upstream where they end up makin' landfall in an area under the control of Ferdinand's commandos, and one of our guys gets blown away while he's tryna choke a chicken. The group retreats back downriver and holes up in an abandoned hospital but it's no good 'cause the federales find 'em and leave Kenny and Roger no choice but to take out the entire squadron before they can force a vaccine on 'em. Meanwhile, Patricia and Nancy're down the hall tryna help this woman who's approximately 19 months pregnant deliver 'er payload, 'cept things go sideways when a malignant midwife grabs Nancy and mashes 'er face up against the prego's paunch where she ends up gettin' 'er face torn off by an overdue zombaby. I'm gonna cut this one short right here 'cause some of the stuff that happens durin' the climax kinda strains credulity a little bit and I don't wanna dissuade anyone from checkin' out the movie until they have all the facts.
Ooooooookay, that's about enough of that. By this point you mighta noticed that the film industry in Italy had taken a bit of a nosedive in the decade following Fulci's superb Zombi 2, with overseas investment becoming harder and harder to secure even for the directors who'd previously proven their mettle. Zombi 3 may be the ultimate "under the circumstances" film given everything that went wrong during its production, and while it's still moderately remarkable that they were able to get it finished, it's tough to be positive when a sequel to a much-loved classic falls this short of expectations. The first signs of an approaching storm came when the budget was cut sharply right before filming was about to begin, but then it's hardly the first movie to have its budget slashed at the last minute, and had that been the only issue I'm confident that the crew could have weathered the conditions and still produced something palatable. Reportedly, Fulci didn't care much for the script, and after modifying it with writers Claudio Fragasso and Rossella Drudi (they of Troll 2 infamy) to filter out some of the bigger arterial clogs, his finished film clocked in at just over 70 minutes. While all this is goin' on, Fulci's workin' in the sweltering jungles of the Philippines with a cancer diagnosis where para-military skirmishes are ongoing, at which point he suffers a stroke and nopes his way outta there and back to Rome.
As you mighta guessed, this went over like a Baby Ruth in the pool. So the producer (Franco Gaudenzi) calls up Bruno Mattei -- who's shootin' Strike Commando 2 in another part of the country -- and asks him to come finish the movie along with Fragasso. Mattei, God bless him, is really more of an Action guy than a Horror guy, though he did work in Horror now and then and generally knew his way around a hacksaw. Now, just in case the odds aren't sufficiently stacked against the freshly field-promoted directors, Mattei can't get everyone from the cast back to the Philipines to complete the new material, resulting in the cast growing between the opening sequences and the zombie battles that follow because the earliest shots were added as padding after the fact. Undeterred, Mattei and Fragasso shoot an additional 40 minutes of film, at which time Fulci's footage is scaled down from around 70 minutes to 50, and you've now got a picture that's close to equal parts Mattei/Fragasso and Fulci. We're talkin' oil and water both in terms of directorial talent and directorial vision, and if you're even a little bit familiar with each man you can go through the flick identifying which guy shot any given scene, which is not exactly somethin' that improves your narrative flow. To further illustrate this point, Mattei estimates he and Fragasso shot roughly 40% of the total runtime, and yet, almost everything you're likely to remember about the movie comes from that 40% due to the absurdity of it. Consequently, Zombi 3 really should be classified as a Bruno Mattei/Claudio Fragasso production despite having contributed a little less than half its runtime because there's no question that it is in fact their mark that prevails and ultimately establishes the flick's identity.
Truth be told I'd originally intended this to be the title with which I gave tribute to Lucio Fulci for my series of the 10 most consequential directors, but havin' not watched it for 20 years I'd forgotten both how bad it is and the fact that it bears only a passing resemblance to his true body of work, and as such, I'm gonna come back to him in a few weeks with a title that better represents his significance in Horror history.
Now it looks like instead of toasting Fulci we're gonna roast Mattei and Fragasso even though that ain't really fair either given they hadda try makin' a movie out of a half-finished production neither man had primary control over up to that point. So Claudio, if you're readin' - don't take this too personally. And for what it's worth, I thought you guys did a decent job on The Other Hell.
The plot is pure, unmitigated anarchy. If you take anything away from Zombi 3, and given its absurdity, it's impossible not to, it's that rules, consistency, and narrative structure are concepts you must slay in order to produce your opus. Some of the zombies run, some shuffle. Some can talk, others have been issued a formal gag order. Explosives and weapons caches turn up as needed in the most mundane of places. Sometimes legs go missing when submerged in water, sometimes you can cannonball off a train trestle without a care in the world. The airborne poison zombie bio-agent affects some people and not others. Extermination squads abandon their automatic rifles to engage in hand-to-hand combat with their targets - though you could probably forgive this particular infraction given how many hundreds of rounds of ammunition are typically exhausted before they're able to register a kill. Zombies plancha drop from the rafters, hold grudges, and will occasionally straight up kung fu your ass as the story dictates. There's also some silly stuff like a severed head in a fridge that launches itself onto a guy's neck while its disembodied corpse strangles his companion, so you might wanna limber up your suspension of disbelief before climbin' this mountain.
The acting is, as always, difficult to judge. The dubbing is often tonally inconsistent with the situations in the flick, trying to keep track of characters' identities beyond the three highest billed is a fool's errand even before considering a few new ones just crop up out of nowhere due to the aforementioned reshoots, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a single fuck to give as relates to the cast's wellbeing. Actually, allow me to expand on that thought - I'm not simply suggesting there's no motivation to get behind or root for any of these characters, I'm sayin' they're so poorly defined and milquetoast that they fail to generate even a desire to see them consumed by the Gymkata ghouls. Apathy doesn't begin to cover it - somebody needs to coin a bigger and better adjective to describe just how astonishingly "meh" these people are. That probably sounds a bit harsh, so let me clarify by stating that the problem here lies not with the actors but with the script because there's very little chance to distinguish yourself when you have zero backstory, zero character development, and dialogue like "General, when you asked us to work on DeathOne you should have told us about the risks involved!" and "I feel better Patricia, but I'm thirsty. Thirsty for your blood!" Absolutely brutal.
Here's who matters and why: Deran Sarafian (Plankton, Interzone, 10 to Midnight), Beatrice Ring (Interzone), Ottaviano Dell'Acqua (Snuff Killer - La Morte in diretta, Navigators of the Space, Zombi 2 & 4, Cut and Run, Rats: Night of Terror, Escape from the Bronx, 2019: After the Fall of New York, Ironmaster, Escape from Galaxy 3, Nightmare City), Massimo Vanni (Zombi 4, Warriors of the Wasteland, The Wax Mask, Shocking Dark, Sinbad of the Seven Seas, Rats: Night of Terror, Escape from the Bronx, The House by the Edge of the Lake, The Last Shark), Ulli Reinthaler (Aenigma), Marina Loi (The Antithesis, Crucified, Demons 2), Luciano Pigozzi (Blood and Black Lace, Alien from the Deep, Yor the Hunter from the Future, Exterminators of the Year 3000, Private House of the SS, The Bloodsucker Leads the Dance, Evil Eye, Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks, Seven Dead in the Cat's Eye, Baron Blood, Blood Brides, Terror-Creatures from the Grave, Castle of the Living Dead, Blood and Black Lace, Werewolf in a Girl's Dormitory), Lara Lamberti (Aenigma, Red Sonya, A Blade in the Dark), Roberto Dell'Acqua (Alien from the Deep, Zombi 3, The Beyond, Nightmare City, Star Odyssey), Claudio Fragasso (Zombie Infection, Night Killer, Zombi 4, Robowar, Hell of the Living Dead), Robert Marius (Alien from the Deep, Warriors of the Apocalypse, Mad Warrior), Bruno Mattei (Night Killer, Hell of the Living Dead), Mike Monty (Mondo Cannibal, Desert Warrior 1988, Raiders of Atlantis, Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks, Escape from the Bronx, 1990: The Bronx Warriors, The Clairvoyant, The New York Ripper).
The special effects are mixed, though to their credit, both the film's directors and makeup artists threw caution to the wind to create as many gory demises and zombies as budgetarily possible, and it should be pointed out that, although the effects don't always look realistic, they're always disgusting. The first appliance in the movie is the most elaborate and least effective and features a lotta pulsating latex that looks like an ill-fated fetishist suffocatin' under a mask. Additionally, we get a severed hand (not good), an undead bird puppet (really bad), several pulsating face wounds (good), severed legs (both bad and confusing), a severed undead head (decent until you see what they do with it), gnarly zombie foot appliances (nice), deconstructive facial surgery (the latex usually tears convincingly), and zombie facial appliances that look satisfactorily gooey more often than not (though one of the "nots" shows up during the final shot, and is particularly pitiful). The short version is that it's disappointing when measured by quality, but more than adequate in terms of quantity, with blood that occasionally flows in such excess as to become comedic.
The shooting locations would be fine if the script either offered no clues regarding the setting, or managed to be consistent when it did, but strictly speaking, you don't technically know what the locations are supposed to look like because the film contradicts itself as to its whereabouts. In the early going the radio DJ can be heard reading off the locations of hospitals and shelters a la Night of the Living Dead - all of which are cities located within the United States, but later the flick offers an exchange between a scientist and military commander containing this passage: "They won't be top secret anymore when another epidemic breaks out... who knows where... in Europe, or the United States." For those of you keepin' score, the screenplay's deficiencies have now torpedoed the plot, dialogue, setting, and even one of the special effects given that a woman's legs get eaten off with no evidence as to why that happened, so it might be time to show a little mercy and just pretend that the film is definitively set in the country it was filmed. I mean, I'd like to do that, and I don't dispute that some of the exteriors are beautifully photographed, but the cinematography is so shaky, tight, and generally amateurish that it doesn't do most of the exteriors justice. Most of the interiors are repurposed rooms that prove unpersuasive as research facilities or military installations, although the resort and abandoned hospital aren't bad. It's also pretty clear that the ruined resort where the characters hunker down looks nothing like the first one, but it isn't explicitly stated that it's supposed to be the same one so I'm not gonna split hairs. Essentially, they shoulda gotten some easy points here, but the script inconsistencies and the lousy cinematography pretty well took care of that.
The soundtrack is, without question, the high point of the movie and features an incredibly catchy synth track composed by Stefano Mainetti, which I have ranked at #9 on my list of the Top 100 Horror Scores of the '80s. That said, that track is one of only two distinct pieces that play throughout the entire movie, and the other is decidedly cheesy and somewhat inconsistent with the scenes over which it plays. The general consensus about the score seems to be that, one great track, no matter how good, can't carry an entire film on its own and I'm inclined to agree. Mainetti kinda tries the time-tested Phantasm technique where you just remix your banger track into a dozen unique iterations of the same tune, but most don't deviate far enough from the original piece and often resort to reusing the primary theme after a short build-up. Regardless, it's a great track, and one that manages to elevate most of the scenes where Mattei and Fragasso haven't directed their zombies to perform absurd stunts as a backdrop.
Overall, Zombi 3 may be the most disappointing sequel in the history of Italian horror, and I only use the term "may" because determining exactly what constitutes a sequel when discussing Italian horror franchises is a subject upon which the world will probably never reach a consensus. I understand the deck was stacked against them, and I applaud the efforts of all involved to get the film in the can under such difficult circumstances, but any way you slice it it's a disjointed, nonsensical, inconsistent catastrophe that either Fulci or Mattei, working alone, would have been able to best. I realize the lure of a sequel to Zombi 2 is going to be stronger than any admonition I can give, but I'd strongly recommend at least puttin' it on the back burner until you've perused the classics of the '70s/'80s Italian zombie cycle.