This is one of my favorite zombie movies. It’s just fun. Whereas Dawn of the Dead [which this is supposed to be the Italian sequel to] has real characters and motivations and you feel like you’re watching something put together with a greater plan in mind, here you feel like you’re watching something with just the efficient delivery of thrills in mind.
The movie opens with a scene that successfully creeped me out: an abandoned boat drifts into New York Harbor. There’s a zombie aboard who bites of a police officer. The boat belonged to Tisa Farrow’s [Mia’s sister], father. So Tisa has to go down to the Carribean to look for him, and she brings along this reporter she’s hooked up with, and they hire a boat from this bearded blond sensitive 70s hunk and his girlfriend.
There’s lots of mumbo-jumbo about the island being cursed and a strange illness going around the island, but finally they get near [the movie DOES take its time getting going] the island and the showstopping set pieces start. The first is a battle between shark and zombie—less exciting in reality than it sounds, though still cool, and gaining redemptive points just for the IDEA.
I also got a creepy frisson out of the moment when the freaked-out snorkeler [Auetta Gay] comes up from the deep and says “There was a MAN down there!” The idea of underwater zombies is ripped off in the execrable House of the Dead.
There’s another notorious scene a few minutes later, after they’re reached the island, and the good doctor Menard asks them to go in and check on his wife. Unfortunately the wife is already zombie chow, but first they speared her eye on a wooden shard. Obviously this is gory, and has lots of fans, but it kind of bugs me… why would a zombie want to do that? It kind of took me out of the movie. But they make up for it a few minutes later when the body is found, and the zombies are just quietly feasting on her organs as though at a relaxing picnic [with attendant slurpy sounds].
This movie also features the famous convention of standing there utterly stupefied for five minutes while a zombie slowly, slowly, slowly shuffles over to you and takes a bite out of your neck.
It all builds to an exciting climax in a burning hospital, and featured some effectively creepy shots leading up to then. It ends on a note that has become somewhat of a cliché [and probably was one then], but you expect it by that time. All around, a great, gory, lighthearted and fun zombie movie.