Zombie Holocaust

Director: Marino Girolami (1980)
Starring: Ian McCulloch, Alexandra Della Colli
Find it online: IMDB, Amazon UK, Amazon US

'Zombie Holocaust’. Really? No exaggeration, not one single person gets killed by zombies in Marino Girolami’s so called Zombie Holocaust. An obvious cash-in on more successful (and good) titles, it recalls such cheese-fest nasties as Burial Ground and Zombie Flesh Eaters. And, in grand Italian tradition, the flick has a bunch of titles; none of them particularly pertinent. Otherwise known as Zombie 3 (no relation, obviously) and Doctor Butcher, MD (my favourite), Zombie Holocaust features hardly any zombies and no holocaust.

Ian McCulloch stars as Dr. Peter Chandler, a doctor of something who leads an ill-advised expedition to South Asia in search of cannibals. For some reason, said cannibals are travelling to New York hospitals and munching on the patients found therein. McCulloch, as fans of shit will already know, is the best thing about the movie. He looks a bit like Roger Moore and has his own Wikipedia page. If Moore-era James Bond had quit spying and become an explorer, he’d be Peter Chandler. But anyway, how or why his cannibals travel to New York is never really explained – but that’s the least of your troubles here.

Zombie Holocaust is an obvious cash-in on the success of such classics as Zombie Flesh Eaters (which also starred Ian McCulloch as a doctor named Peter) and the increasingly popular cannibal movies of the time. Because Zombies + Cannibals = CASH. In retrospect, they should probably have called it Zombies vs Cannibals, or at least something a little bit more descriptive of their actual product. Nibbling Zombies, perhaps. Or The Zombies that Didn’t Eat Anything.

But back to the plot. Alexandra Delli Colli stars as Lori Ridgeway, who has a degree in anthropology and is therefore of utmost importance to the team. She also grew up near the Cannibal Island, although this is never touched on again. She and Peter are joined in turn by a journalist, some cannon-fodder and a shifty tour guide named Molotto.

First to die are the ethnic bag-carriers, who wander off into the jungle and immediately get themselves eaten. It’d probably be scary if it didn’t look so horribly fake. There’s a scene where one character has his eyes poked out. As eye-gougings go, it’s probably the worst I’ve ever seen, since the blood is far too red and the victim’s head looks like a papier mache construct. Lucio Fulci this ain’t.

Just as Peter and Lori are about to die, the zombies appear and scare away the cannibals, who run off hysterically and hide in the undergrowth. Why they’d be so scared is unclear, since the zombies look shit and are incapable of killing anything. The cannibals capture a crew of armed, prepared Westerners… and then flee at the sight of crappy, shambling corpses? I don’t buy it. And neither do our heroes. In lieu of escaping, Peter and Lori decide to investigate further, uncovering the half-cocked scheme of Mad Scientist Dr. Obrero (or Dr. Butcher, if you have the US version) as they go. Aside from looking and sounding like Harvey Keitel, Doc Butcher plans to transplant Peter’s brain into a dead, decomposed body. This would explain the zombies, but it’s also unspeakably stupid. But not as stupid as what comes next:

Lori, adopted as a goddess by the locals, leads a cannibal army against Doc Butcher, and frees Peter in the process. The ending, by the way, is a bunch of recycled footage they used in Zombie Flesh Eaters, because it obviously been too much hassle to shoot some new stuff.

The only reason to watch this movie is for its incredibly high Cheese Factor. And even then, only if you’ve watched everything else. It’s woefully lacking in too many departments. The gore is too fake to convince, the acting is terrible (yes, even you, McCulloch) and the story is utterly slapdash.

As you’d expect with such a classic bit of Cheese, the below Scream Queens are once again screaming ironically:

3/5 screaming Scream Queens!!!

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