Zombie Holocaust (Marino Girolami / Italy, 1980):

"You must have a pretty sick sense of humor," it is said at the outset. Marino Girolami has it, along with a cool and dapper sense of understatement: The morgue orderly munching on a freshly carved-out heart is dubbed "a psychopathic deviant," the natives feasting on an unlucky clod (needing some squishy aperitifs, one fellow reaches for the eye sockets) are rather "resistant to culture." Act one takes in the cannibals of New York City; Ruggero Deodato might be just around the corner filming his own angle of the Empire State Building, though the most horrifying element here has to be the collision of pale floral wallpaper and dark green carpeting in the heroine’s apartment. Act two parachutes anthropologists (Ian McCulloch, Alexandra Delli Colli) and reporters (Sherry Buchanan, Peter O’Neal) into a South Seas island, with merry disembowelments for all. Chekhov’s Rule is applied to "a ceremonial dagger for human sacrifices," Under Capricorn’s severed noggin on the bedspread receives extra syrup and maggots. The nutty doctor’s (Donald O’Brien) blunt declaration ("I improve Nature!") clinches the thing as a joke on missionaries, the zombies are really Dr. Moreauesque works-in-progress, shuffling along to the greasy synthesizer score. (The streamlined American version, Doctor Butcher: Medical Deviate, provides its own jocular critique.) With Alejandro Dakar and Walter Patriarca.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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