.., Zombie Fights Shark in ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters’ (1979)? aka Zombie, aka Zombie 2
Back in the late 1970s Lucio Fulci, tired of all that same-old-same-old man vs shark or man vs zombie nonsense, decided that it was time to give the people what they really wanted for their hard earned dollar, a zombie vs a shark. For decades cinema goers had grown tired of westerns, adventures, romance, action, sci-fi, and drama. In a time when cinema was going through a lacklustre period with likes of Jaws, Star Wars, The Godfather, The Exorcist, Halloween, Rocky, and Taxi Driver boring audiences everywhere, Fulci had the balls to stand up to the bureaucrats in California and inject some much needed Italian moxie. The result of this Italian American cinematic marriage of creativity was one of the richest, emotional, kinetic, and beautiful scenes ever committed to film.
Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979) or Zombie or Zombie 2 (bizarrely) depending on which country you live in, was a kind of zombie jungle adventure film shot using some English and some Italian speaking actors, released in Italy a year earlier as simply Zombie. The film cleverly bookended some re-shot scenes set in New York (the end scene on The Brooklyn Bridge being fairly impressive and memorable) to both appeal to US audiences and to cash in on the success of Dawn of the Dead (1978). But glorious gore, grotesque make-up, and gorilla filmmaking aside, lets concentrate on what really matters here.., the seminal moment.., the main event.
Zombies are forever popping up out of the ground; from graves, car crashes, patios, and basements. But what of those people who have died at sea? Don’t they deserve a fair crack at the living too? The thirst for brains and flesh isn’t a lust solely for landlubbers. Fulci’s masterful grasp of the medium realises this lifelong quandary and pitches a sea dwelling corpse against its only natural predator; the shark. Look on in awe as a slow, docile, probably heavily drugged shark who may or may not have had all his teeth removed and clearly can’t be arsed, fights a shark trainer in zombie makeup who minces about the place bighting and harassing this poor destitute creature. No camera trickery or CGI here, just an actual man bighting an actual shark, underwater on the sea bed. A truly magnificent umm.., achievement (?) in terms of hilarity, stupidity, dexterity, and more than likely cruelty.