** ½ Out of 5
Release Date- July 29th, 1988
Running Time- 95-Minutes
Screenplay- Claudio Fragasso
Director- Lucio Fulci & Bruno Mattei (un-credited)
Starring- Deran Sarafian, Beatrice Ring, Ottaviano Dell’Acqua, Massimo Vanni, Ulli Reinthaler, Marina Loi
Released in 1988 Zombie 3 continued the downward spiral for Lucio Fulci who in my opinion with the exception of Cat in the Brain, didn’t really make a good movie after the New York Ripper in 1982 and some even feel the decline started with Ripper, but I disagree and consider that one of Fulci’s best movies and his best of the 80s. Cat in the Brain again is the only post-Ripper movie that I liked a lot and I can tolerate Murder Rock from 1984 and Zombie 3 is better than anything else he made in this time, but that really isn’t saying much. I would hate for people to see this movie and form an opinion on Lucio Fulci since this in no way showcases what he could do as a filmmaker. When people think of Fulci they think of his splatter flicks of the 80s and while these were enjoyable films, movies such as Don’t Torture a Duckling, Seven Notes in Black and Zombie 2 really show what a wonderful filmmaker he actually was. When most think of Zombie 2 they think of the excellent gore F/X and for good reason, but the movie had a lot more than just gore F/X.
As I’ve stated before in many reviews for late 80s Italian horror flicks by this time the tide was turning on them and not long after this with the exception of Dario Argento, Italian horror was pretty much dead and seeing some of the movies to come out of Italy at the time that really isn’t a shocker. The one thing that surprises me about Zombie 3 is how weak the production values are, which is something that plagued a lot of late 80s Italian horror flicks except films by Argento and Michele Soavi. Zombie 3 is easily one of Fulci’s weaker efforts, but my biggest gripe is how this feels nothing like a Lucio Fulci movie. If not for his name in the credits I never would have guessed he made this movie; legendary hack filmmaker Bruno Mattei also played a part in this film, but more on that later. Apparently at the time of Zombie 3, Fulci was in poor health and according to writer Claudio Fragasso would throw pages away from the script refusing to shoot them.
Writer Claudio Fragasso is really terrible at what he does regardless if he’s writing and or directing I don’t think the guy could make a halfway decent porno flick, but yet for some odd reason I keep watching his work. According to Fragasso, Fulci threw the pages away because he deemed them too complex, but normally Fragasso has an excuse on why his films often come out so poorly, but I think Fulci was throwing away pages because he realized what a turkey the script was. Fragasso for the most part rips off George A. Romero’s The Crazies as well as taking elements from various zombie movies to write a screenplay so poor it’s sort of entertaining. Fragasso also attempts some social commentary, but everything is so laughably bad all this ends up being lost. The characters are total idiots and if anyone can remember any of their names you deserve an award. True a lot of horror films have weak characters, but these characters are total idiots with zero depth. The structure of the script is weak and Fragasso once again shows what a clueless of a filmmaker he is.
Director Lucio Fulci fails at really delivering much suspense and or excitement and seems to simply be going through the motions. The pacing of the film can be quite dreadful at times and despite running at only 95-minutes it does seem longer and the movie really could have used a shorter running time. Like I said earlier in the review I’d hate for people to see this and judge Lucio Fulci as the movie has nothing to show what made Fulci an Iconic horror filmmaker. After the movie was done it was said to be too slow and after editing it was too short and Fulci refused to do any reshoots so enter Bruno Mattei and the really sad thing is this might be the best work of his career. By this time in his career one would think Bruno would have learned a thing or two about filmmaking, but I guess not. In typical fashion Bruno Mattei delivers a hack job, but at least it has a couple of fun moments. Mattei’s scenes are just as sloppy as Fulci’s, but I actually found the pacing a tiny bit better. Regardless, Zombie 3 is a weak film in the career of Lucio Fulci and a decent film in the career of Bruno Mattei.
Make no mistake Zombie 3 is a bad movie, but that is why I sort of enjoy it. As for the zombies they range from slow moving to rather fast with one even wielding a machete! Some zombies have a few lines and others are silent. This is probably due to two different directors. You’d think Bruno Mattei would follow what Fulci was doing, but I guess not; but seeing as Fragasso’s script has no structure either not much of a surprise things constantly change.
The gore is fairly decent; it’s not the gore fest like some of Fulci’s prior work, but Zombie 3 has some decent gore, but could have used a bit more. But gore-hounds should be semi-pleased even if again it could have used more and it also wasn’t all that great. The zombie make-up I honestly didn’t really care for. It looks way too cheap.
My review is negative, but there is some fun to be found here; the idiotic characters can sort of make things fun at times and the machete zombie was quite fun and the zombie head in the fridge that comes flying out at one of the characters was hysterical. While Zombie 3 does have fun moments the movie isn’t as enjoyable as it could have been. At this time in Fulci’s career you can’t have too high expectations and with Fragasso and Mattie involved that also should lower expectations. I have a love/hate relationship with this movie and my enjoyment or lack of really depends on my mood. Once again I can’t stress enough don’t let this movie form your opinion on Lucio Fulci and it’s quite sad to see how low his career sank.