Taking the heavily niche market of both vinyl and Italian horror to their logical conclusion, this gorgeous limited edition splatter vinyl (red, blood on clear ) doesn’t have the name of the film anywhere on the sleeve (save buried in the body text of co-composer Fabio Frizzi’s incredibly informative introduction on the reverse).
Instead we’re treated to a sun hanging fat and low over a rickerty island church, a familiar, rotted head, its eye socket writhing with maggots, and a shark duelling with a cadaver, all beautifully recreated by prolific horror movie artist Graham Humphreys (there’s also an A2 poster inside, and a double-sided print, showing the assault on New York and the climax of the film), whose best known designs are perhaps the UK posters for Evil Dead 2 and A Nightmare On Elm Street. On the spine it reads simply “The boat can leave now. Tell the crew.”
If you instantly know what this is, you’ll buy it. If you don’t, you wouldn’t want it anyway.
A truly cult film, Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2 was put together in 1979 as an unauthorised sequel to George Romero’s landmark Dawn Of The Dead, simply titled Zombi for its Italian release. It’s awash with mesmerising set-pieces – the aforementioned zombie versus shark, the siege of the church, the punji stick trap, the horde of living dead marching on New York City, and the obligatory Fulci eyeball piercing.
Similarly mesmerising is its score.
Fabio Frizzi and Giorgo Cascio make much of pounding, heart-beat drums and woodwind, linking the narrative to its Caribbean location like the backing tape in a dreadful theme bar where waiters serve drinks in hollowed out coconuts and pineapples, the steady rhythm sticking around long enough to be thick and oppressive, like a jungle march, the air thick with mosquitoes and the sickly tang of decaying plantlife.
Whenever the keyboard or drums appear to beat out a tacky calypso, the room starts to spin with oncoming delirium, undercut by a pining whalesong of pleading or melancholy, perhaps while Fulci pans over still corpses or our heroes huddled together for the night while shapes gather in the darkness under the canopy.
Eighties horror is generally parodied for its over-indulgence of menacing synths, and there’s no shortage of tension building mellotron in Frizzi and Cascio’s score, but there’s an off-ripe sickliness to it, and that trademarked keening howl of dead voices. While Romero’s world was one of sterile urbanity and silence, prowled by desiccated husks, Fulci’s Zombi 2 has an off-ripe, diseased look, a constant buzz of flies and splash of water against the dock, a warmer, faded colour palate that echoes its fever dream setting.
A fantastically off-kilter listen, testament to the composers, and of course Lucio Fulci himself, to have created something equal parts derivative and unique, and implacable and fitting. And of course to the grandly titled Death Waltz Recording Company for a treatment that oozes syrupy pus of love and respect, that even the most enthusiastic zombie fan will discover a whole new appreciation for one of the subgenre’s most beloved, and idiosyncratic, video nasties.