I wouldn’t mind having a cake in the shape of the worm-eyed zombie’s head at some point. It might weird someone people out, but I don’t care because this movie is quite the experience. It is gory, entertaining, shocking, hopeless, aquatic, lush, eerie, low-budget, mysterious, surprising, menacing, atmospheric, memorable, violent, intense, unrestrained, trashy, and apocalyptic. It is Fulci doing what he does best, and if you can’t get behind that, I don’t know what to tell you other than that you should probably have your eye gouged out by a zombie. Maybe it would somehow enhance the viewing experience, but it’s hard to say.
The fact that there is no conclusive answer as to what causes the zombies to rise is worth noting because it provokes thought in the viewer. Is it voodoo as Dr. Menard suspects or something else? It’s a simple question, yet the possibilities are endless, which is indicative of Fulci’s thought process. He could’ve provided an answer within the first few minutes, but if he had done so, the zombies themselves wouldn’t have had as much of a presence. It isn’t difficult to imagine him and his writers thinking about the origins or lack thereof of his creatures in conjunction with their nature. Indeed, they eat flesh, but they are also adept at swimming and pursuing their prey, and so you have creatures who, although they are slow, never come up short when it comes to outsmarting their victims. It’s quite a thrill.
Though the characters aren’t particularly smart, their survival efforts aren’t wasted. In fact, such moments are engaging as guns are shot and a building is set ablaze in an attempt to ward off the undead. It’s man versus monster with no bells and whistles, which is why it works so well. It all comes together during the shootout in the church — a scene which is complemented by the score. You have a soundtrack of bullets as well as the touch of Fabio Frizzi which puts you in the midst of the scene. It is a winning combination, and it’s evident that Fulci enjoyed working with Frizzi.
Aside from the zombies, there is a moment wherein Anne expresses concern about making it off the island. Although it is brief, it isn’t any less significant because it what motivates the survival efforts, and so getting out alive is treated with attentiveness. It’s interesting how something so simple is difficult to ensure, especially since the characters haven’t encountered zombies before. They’re just ordinary people, and since they are, the desperate measures which they take to escape by the skin of their teeth express that not only do they miss New York, but also that they are out of their element. In both regards, Fulci gets a lot out of mileage out of his characters, which makes them all the more engaging.
I don’t have much else to say , but if you haven’t seen this, you’re missing out. Give it a whirl before the zombies get you.