Although ostensibly a Lucio Fulci film, in reality there aren’t a lot of similarities with its predecessor – aside from the presence of the undead, of course. There’s a new cast of characters, and the tone seems more inspired by Return Of The Living Dead rather than Dawn Of The Dead. Indeed, Fulci dropped out some way into filming, with large segments instead being helmed by his contemporary, Bruno Mattei.
The result is at times fairly by-the-numbers, but otherwise Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 (confusingly referred to as Zombi 3 on the cover sleeve) is entertaining enough. When a security lapse causes a zombie-inducing virus to be unleashed on a local resort, the military works to contain it. Things get complicated when a group of holidaying GIs stumble upon the outbreak, leading to a game of cat-and-mouse as they try to escape.
In truth, however, the thinly sketched plot simply serves as a skeleton framework for all the undead antics that ensue. Most memorable of which are the death scenes, most notably a horribly drawn-out eye-gouging scene, as well as an airborne avian assault that recalls Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.
Indeed, cult film references seem to be the order of the day here, with a recurring DJ soundtrack chronicling the characters’ escapades that seems heavily reminiscent of The Warriors.
Homages aside, however, there’s nothing here that’s memorable enough to allow this to stand out in the zombie movie pantheon. While the first Zombie Flesh Eaters had zombie vs shark, the closest this has is one of the hapless survivors being gunned down by the army – which itself is a homage to Night Of The Living Dead – and a surprise zombie-wielding-a-machete scene that sees the film rewrite its own rules on what the undead can do entirely.
Zombie movie aficionados will find a lot to enjoy here – although equally it will come across as something for a letdown for those drawn in by the video-nasty allure of its predecessor. It’s full of gore and grime, but surprisingly low on shock value, all things considered.