Zombi Holocaust!

I could easily kill you now, but I’m determined to have your brain!

ZOMBI HOLOCAUST (1980)

Ian McCulloch (“Zombi II,” “Contamination”) stars as a NYC detective named Peter Chandler. Peter teams up with the beautiful and brilliant Dr. Lori Ridgeway (Alexandra Delli Colli – “The New York Ripper”) to investigate a bizarre series of cadaver mutilations occurring at a hospital. Corpses begin unexpectedly turning up with freshly removed limbs and internal organs. The deviant butcher is revealed to be a hospital orderly; a native of the primitive island of Kito named Turin. Crazed with an infernal blood lust, Turin refuses to be captured by police and instead jumps out of a window to his death (watch out for the mannequin arm that snaps off and flies away!).

Coincidentally enough, Lori is an expert in anthropology who also grew up in Kito as a child. Lori assures Peter that “all primitive people practiced cannibalism – without exception,” and yet Peter is convinced that the answers to the mysterious mutilations will be found in Kito. Peter convinces her to return to the remote island on the Archipelago along with himself, detective George Harper (Peter O’ Neil) and George’s annoying reporter girlfriend Susan (Sherry Buchanan). Peter contacts a world famous surgeon named Dr. Obrero (the legendary Donald O’ Brien, who starred in countless Italian epics) who heals the natives in the small islands surrounding Kito. Dr. Obrero warns the group that the natives of Kito are the most savage that he has ever encountered, and that they reject any attempts of being civilized. He then kindly offers the group a boat to Kito, along with his dimwitted assistant Molotto (Dakar, who played a similar role in “Zombi II”) as a captain/guide.

Shortly after arriving at Kito, the gang is welcomed to the jungle by the fierce cannibal tribe. The cannibals quickly make a hot lunch out of the trio of hapless young natives that were working as the group’s guides. The following day the cannibals easily manage to capture both George and Susan. George has his eyes gouged out shortly before losing his limbs, and Susan is apparently scalped, as one of the nasty savages is later found wearing her bloody hair as a wig. Peter and Lori are about to meet the same gruesome fate, and are then saved from their imminent devourment by the inexplicable appearance of the walking dead! The rotting zombies quickly scare off the cannibals, which gives Peter, Lori, and Molotto enough time to escape and run away.

They eventually meet up with Dr. Obrero at a nearby chapel and the good Doctor again offers them a helping hand, this time in the form of a small motor boat that he claims is located just up the beach. After a wild battle on the beach where he reduces a zombie’s face to pulp with an outboard motor, Peter begins to smell a rat and starts to suspect that Dr. Obrero might be hiding a secret even more sinister than the cannibals or the zombies. His suspicions quickly lead himself and Lori back into danger, and it isn’t long before Peter gets an up close and personal look at Dr. Obrero’s medical deviancy. Doctor Butcher M.D. has been anxious to experiment with a male Caucasian brain. Lori escapes but is captured by the cannibal tribe, stripped nude, and then treated as a golden goddess by an Ace Frehley lookalike in a bizarre mating ritual. Tonight, the dead shall rise…again!

Marino Girolami’s ZOMBI HOLOCAUST is one of my favorite Italian horror flicks. It’s also an undisputed grindhouse clas-sick. This one was marketed to sleazy perfection in the States by the notorious Aquarius Releasing under the title “Dr. Butcher M.D.” Aquarius bought the rights to the film in 1982 and added the groovy new title, an annoying synthesizer score, and a pointless opening title sequence featuring a zombie rising from a grave, which was taken from an unfinished anthology film titled “Tales To Rip Your Heart Out.” Their immortal tag line “He is a depraved sadistic rapist, a bloodthirsty homicidal killer – and he makes house calls!” is one of the greatest of all time. That description of the film is completely inaccurate of course, but they don’t call them exploitation flicks for nothing! The misleading marketing of the film and the opening scenes that take place in NYC set this up as more of a simple slasher flick and that works at keeping the unsuspecting first time viewer off guard before the real mayhem ensues. 

“Zombi Holocaust” can best be described as a brutal combination of the always popular cannibal and zombie sub genres. Once the four idiots make their way into the jungle the flick plays out in similar fashion to cannibal clas-sicks like “Cannibal Ferox” and “Emmanuelle And The Last Cannibals.” Then the zombies finally show up and the shit really hits the fan as the film wraps itself up and begins shamelessly ripping off Fulci’s “Zombi II.” The ending of the film, which takes place in a burning primitive hospital is a direct lift from Fulci’s film. On the plus side, the splatter in this flick is simply outrageous. There’s a very juicy neck slitting that I particularly enjoy.The scenes of Dr. Butcher in action, as he hacks away at Sherry Buchanan’s brain and vocal chords (prompting the immortal line “The patient’s screaming disturbing me, performed removal of vocal chords.”) are also especially pukeworthy.The unbeatable combination of cannibals, zombies, and primitive brain surgery ensures that no flesh will be spared and guarantees a good time for gorehounds.

The undead hordes at Shriek Show released an excellent dvd of ZOMBI HOLOCAUST that includes an uncut anamorphic wide screen transfer, and more bonus features than you can shake a rotting limb at. The goodies include a very cool deleted scene featuring Ian McCulloch battling a cannibal to the death, bonus scenes from Roy Frumke’s unfinished film “Tales That’ll Rip Your Heart Out” that were originally added to the US theatrical version, still and poster gallery, trailers, talent bios, and an interview with the legendary special effects maestro Maurizio Trani (Zombi, The Beyond). There’s also some fantastic liner notes from writer Chris Poggiali and some truly nifty reversible cover art. Good gory fun!

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

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