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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Zombie 3

May 18, 2019 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Zombie 3

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #507: Zombie 3

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that truly believes that if we had more movies about zombies with machetes the world would be a better place (maybe only slightly better but better nonetheless), The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and seven, I take a look at the low budget Italian zombie flick Zombie 3, which hit movie screens in 1988.

Zombie 3

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Zombie 3, also known as Zombi 3, is the sequel in name only to 1979’s Zombie, which was known in Italy as Zombi 2 because Dario Argento’s version of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was called Zombie. Directed by the legendary Lucio Fulci and, when Fulci sort of abandoned the movie due to illness, the not-quite-as-legendary-but-legendary-in-his-own-right Bruno Mattei was brought in to finish it, Zombie 3 is a highly entertaining, uneven, insane mess. The movie makes zero sense, but then that’s a big part of its charm, which is how you have to look at most low budget Italian genre movies.

Basically, Zombie 3 is one of those zombie movies where a zombie virus is accidentally released out in the world, turning people into monsters that eat human flesh, and a rag tag group of survivors try to, well, survive the plague, and while all of that is happening the authorities try to figure out what to do. Should the military be brought in to kill everyone and everything within the plague zone, or should the military be brought in to take out the infected and make sure the rest of the world never figures out what really happened? The zombie virus in Zombie 3 is called “Death One,” and it’s accidentally released out into the world when a band of heavily armed terrorists infiltrate a U.S. military lab somewhere in the Philippines, steal a case filled with vials of the virus, engage in a shootout with security, leaving on terrorist to run into the nearby jungle with the case. A foot chase ensues, and the terrorist is accidentally infected by the virus when one of the vials breaks open in the case and the case opens. The infected terrorist then manages to escape the jungle and hole up in a nearby tourist hotel, where the terrorist then experiences the internal and external ravages of the virus. Now, it isn’t clear that the terrorist even knew about the Death One virus; it sure seems like he was there on the military base with his terrorist buddies to steal something. It didn’t matter what it was. The escaped terrorist sure seems surprised by what starts happening to him in his hotel room. To say that it isn’t pleasant would be a serious understatement. His skin gets all gross and nasty, ooze starts coming out of his body, and he ends up cutting his own hand off in the bathroom. Jesus Christ, that’s awful!

Back at the military lab, the lead scientist, Dr. Holder (Robert Marius), tries to explain to the lead military man there, General Morton (Mike Monty), that what needs to happen is the infected need to be rounded up and everyone else who may have come in contact with the infected but isn’t infected needs to be given an antidote. Unfortunately, Dr. Holder doesn’t have a viable antidote/vaccine ready to go and will need time to create one. General Morton doesn’t want to hear any of that. If there’s no antidote ready to go the general’s men will have to kill everyone in the area (and by everyone the general means everyone, infected or not). Dr. Holder is horrified by the general’s plan and immediately starts working on the vaccine. While that happens, the general initiates his plan by sending hazmat suit wearing soldiers to the hotel near the lab and the jungle.

So then some stuff happens, the hazmat soldiers find the now zombified terrorist and take him out (they also find a zombified hotel maid). The now very dead zombie is taken back to the lab where General Morton insists on getting rid of the evidence and burning the body up in an incinerator, something that Dr. Holder strongly advises against. See, Holder doesn’t know if burning an infected zombie will spread the virus around via ashes that will no doubt show up in the atmosphere. General Morton overrules the scientists and presses on with burning the zombie body.

Now, while all of that is going on, there are two groups of potential survivors out and about in the area who have no idea what the hell is going on. The first group, three soldiers on leave (the lead soldier here is Kenny, played by Deran Sarafian), are driving around in a jeep, basically just fucking around. These soldiers drive up on an RV filled with hip and edgy (for the time) college student types out for a good time. The soldiers sort of hone in on the hot babes on the RV, including Nancy (Ulli Reinthaler) and Carole (Marina Loi). As they’re all about to get together, the RV is attacked by a flock of zombie birds (yes, that’s what I said, zombie birds), causing an accident. What the hell happened? Zombie birds?

So then some more stuff happens, the army guys and the young people sort of pair up and split up, the scientists and the army brass continue to argue about what to do (it’s still a battle between creating a vaccine and just killing every single goddamn thing in the area), and more and more zombies appear. It sure as hell looks like the scientists were right and just about everyone in the area has been infected by the ashes in the atmosphere. Why aren’t the soldiers and the kids from the RV infected, too?

Who knows? They could all be somehow immune to the Death One virus, or perhaps they just missed being infected by the zombie ashes, or perhaps we’re just not supposed to think about that shit. The soldiers and the young people are our heroes, they’re the ones we’re supposed to root for, so the reason they’re not infected is because they’re not infected. If you can’t deal with that, well, you’re just going to have to stop watching the movie.

The rest of the movie is essentially a series of good and bad set pieces where various characters are attacked by the zombies and, eventually, hazmat suit wearing soldiers. Outside of the main scientist, the general, and Kenny, you don’t really catch anyone’s name, and if you do odds are you won’t remember it anyway. I tried really, really hard to catch character names but I missed several of them. That happens to me all of the time when I watch any sort of low budget Italian genre movie.

Even if you didn’t know the history of Zombie 3 and how the movie had two directors (well, three if you count co-screenwriter Claudio Fragasso, who apparently did some directing, too, although I’m not sure what he did, scenes wise), you can tell that something was going on behind the scenes with the movie as the tone and feel of the movie is all over the place. From the interview on the DVD from Severin Films, Mattei apparently directed the beginning of the movie and the end of the movie and more or less any sequence involving the soldiers in hazmat suits. Fulci directed everything else. I’m not sure I can say that the Fulci stuff is necessarily better than the Mattei stuff. The Fulci stuff definitely seems moodier and wackier (there’s a goddamn flying zombie head in this movie. A flying zombie head!) while the Mattei stuff is more static and by the book. At the same time, moody or not moody, everything seems rushed and somewhat half-finished. No one involved in the movie had enough time to get done what needed to be done.

Some of the zombies look exceptionally gross, while others look like the make-up artists just melted a bunch of wax and silicone on the zombie actor’s face. As a result, some of the zombies are very scary looking (the very first zombie is terrifying), while others are just performers with make up on. There’s no consistency with any of the make-up, both in terms of the zombie facial make-up and the body make-up. Some of the zombies have deformed hands, legs, and feet, while others only have deformed faces. There’s also no consistency in terms of how the zombies move. Some shamble on like Romero zombies, others move around quickly (there’s a cool scene where a zombie attacks one of the human survivors with a machete and that zombie jumps around like he’s in Return of the Living Dead). Some of the zombies can apparently do both. Some zombies are also able to talk. How is that possible? Damned if I know. It’s also never explained what the zombie rules are. Do you have to shoot them in the head in order to kill them? Can you actually kill them? It seems like all you need to do is shoot a zombie anywhere on its body and it will die. Again, the movie doesn’t stop and take a moment to explain any of that. You’d think that would have happened at some point with Dr. Holder.

The movie does have some great gore, both in terms of just blood and nasty face wounds and shit like that. I also want to applaud the movie for its multiple exploding zombie heads. It’s always a good thing if your zombie movie has one exploding zombie head in it. Having two exploding zombie heads puts your movie on another level. And the bit with the pregnant woman will shock the squeamish, that’s for damn sure. Gross as fuck. I loved it.

The performances are all over the place. Star Sarafian does a good job as Kenny. He doesn’t really do anything special with his role but he’s a serviceable hero. Beatrice Ring also does a good job as Patricia, one of the young women that gets caught up in all of this zombie madness. Robert Marius and Mike Monty are stiff as hell. It’s like they didn’t know their lines, tried their best, and the editor picked the takes that were the least terrible. It is kind of cool, though, to see Monty in a different kind of military role, as he played a Colonel Trautman type character in the Mattei directed Rambo rip-off Strike Commando (I reviewed that flick here). General Morton is not a good guy at all in this.

It’s a damn shame what happens to the hip and “With it” radio DJ named Blueheart, as I’m sure he would have shown up in a sequel. I have no idea who plays him in the movie. Del Russel voiced the character according to imdb. I would like to know how the hell Blueheart managed to get all of the information he puts out on the radio. I believe he says authorities call him up and tell him stuff, but not all of the time. So, again, where the hell did he get all of that information? If and when someone ever reboots this movie, I think we all know who should be the focus.

There is a Zombie 4 out there that came out in 1989, but it’s another one of those “sequels in name only” deals (I believe Zombie 4: After Death became Zombie 4 after the fact. It was originally just called After Death). Why the hell didn’t the producers want to make a sequel to Zombie 3? It sure seems like the producers wanted to make one, as the end of Zombie 3 indicates there’s more of this story to tell. So what the hell happened?

Zombie 3 is a bit of a mixed bag. Some of it is great, some of it is just good, and some of it is just terrible. It is absolutely entertaining throughout. If you’re a fan of low budget Italian genre cinema you should absolutely check out Zombie 3. If you have seen Zombie 3 in a long time, make an effort to see it again soon. You’ll be glad you did. And if you’re one of those adventurous B-movie watchers, if you’re looking for something that’s both different and similar at the same time, Zombie 3 is definitely a movie you should check out.

All in all, you should see Zombie 3. See it, see it, see it.

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So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: If it’s less than 30 I’d be shocked.

Undead bodies: Hundreds? Thousands? Millions? Who knows?

Explosions: Several, including one epic exploding gas station.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: Dead body injecting, green liquid barfing, full on body melt, glass breaking, helicopter hooey, an underground facility, a shootout, a really important box, an infected hand, a hotel, more glass breaking, hotel employee hooey, nasty as fuck bloody/oozy hand removal, seriously soiled bed sheets, a bathroom attack, off screen military massacre, attempted face shaving, knife through the chest, attempted mass grave, dead zombie body burning, multiple hot women in an RV, zombie birds, zombie bird attack, multiple oozing face wounds, multiple falling cans, multiple zombie attacks, zombie with a machete, gasoline to the face, lit lighter throwing, exploding gas station, multiple arguments, guns, a fucked up radiator, multiple zombie murders, diving, bloody leg removal, double kick to the face, multiple zombie jump attacks, zombies in the water, praying, flying zombie head, neck biting, throat ripping, a bridge fight, a snap mare, box to the face, zombie is thrown through a window, wall breaking, flamethrower hooey, student eating, machine gun hooey, multiple exploding zombie heads, giant knife through the throat, more jumping and diving zombies, an impromptu jungle walk, serious hair pulling, head bashing, wound fixing, attempted chicken catching, another shootout, chair throwing, full on bloody face removal, zombie hand up through a pregnant woman’s belly, cardboard tube attack, shovel to the neck, a wall of fire, grenade attack, a helicopter escape, and the promise of a sequel that is obviously never going to happen.

Kim Richards?: Likely. Off screen.

Gratuitous: A movie that just starts, shooting at a guy from a helicopter, hotel room service, a radio DJ giving out an environmental message, U.S. army soldiers on a weekend pass driving around in a jeep and listening to the radio, kiss blowing, talk of a hole in the ozone, a rant against environmentalism, dead birds, zombie with a machete, Mike Monty, Mike Monty saying “Pure science fiction!,” soldiers in white hazmat suits, multiple jumping and diving zombie attacks, flying zombie head, cigarette smoking, zombies that can talk, flamethrower attack, canoes, multiple exploding zombie heads, some of the worst acting in movie history, and the promise of a sequel that is obviously never going to happen.

Best lines: “Nothing’s happening. That’s impossible!,” “We have to stop him or it will be the end of everything!,” “What’s the matter? Don’t you feel well?,” “Dammit! Of course a contaminated man can infect other people!,” “I brought the water, sir!,” “Oh, Jesus, look at this!,” “That is ridiculous! Pure science fiction!,” “Say, that’s the girl that I like!,” “In a place like this it can be tough to find beautiful girls, you know?,” “Well, I think nature is something that should be considered sacred, is all,” “I’ve never seen anything so sad,” “Hello! I need some water!,” “Don’t worry!,” “What happened to the hotel? It’s a mess,” “We gotta get ahold of some penicillin!,” “I found a crate full of guns! Come on!,” “I hope I didn’t ruin your weekend,” “You are to shoot anyone moving in the contaminated area, regardless!,” “Is anybody there?,” “What a lousy situation. Everything was great until this morning,” “Kenny, come on! There are some canoes here, we can paddle upstream!,” “Go ahead, Victor! Kill them all!,” “I don’t want to bring about the end of humanity!,” “With any luck, things will be back to normal now,” and “Kenny, we’re going back to that? To fight? We’re going back to win, or humanity’s done for.”

Rating: 7.5/10.0

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Things to Watch Out For

TripleThreatBRD

Triple Threat: The all-star action epic of the year is finally here on home video and, man, it’s an absolute must own. Directed by the great Jesse V. Johnson, it’s got everything you need to have for a great action flick: a great story, a terrific cast (Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Tiger Chen, Michael Jai White, Michael Bisping, and Scott Adkins are all in this movie), and some of the most badass gun fights, car chases, and hand-to-hand brawls you will see anywhere. Check out my full on review of Triple Threat here and then pick up a copy. Again, this is an absolute must own.

FightingWithMyFamily

Fighting with my Family: Quite possibly the best movie ever made about pro wrestling, this dramedy will make you cheer, make you sad, and make you grasp just how great Nick Frost really is. I mean, if you didn’t already know from his collaborations with Simon Pegg, you need to see Frost in this. He’s hilarious and heartwarming. Lena Headey is also awesome in it. And we will definitely be seeing more from star Florence Pugh in the future. She’s great. This movie didn’t do all that well in theatres, but I bet it will find a sizeable audience on home video and television. Easily one of the best movies so far of 2019.

RoomforRent

Room for Rent: This low budget horror flick from director Tommy Stovall has been getting decent sized buzz recently, mostly due to the presence of modern horror icon Lin Shaye as the movie’s villain. It’s all about an old widow who rents out a room in her house and apparently becomes mega obsessed with the people she rents the room out to. The trailer is pretty creepy, and, heck, why not give this movie a chance? Rent it, see what it’s like.

TheHeadHunter

The Head Hunter: This mega low budget sort of fantasy action horror movie has also been getting some decent buzz as it apparently manages to do quite a bit with so very little. It played in a few actual movie theatres not that long ago and the reviews that I saw for it were pretty good. How often do we see a sort of medieval fantasy action horror movie made for such a small amount of money (apparently less than you think. Way less). Definitely want to rent this to see what it’s all about. Anyone see this?

ColdPursuitDVD

Cold Pursuit: This Liam Neeson “action” movie was such a massive disappointment when I saw it in the theatre. A remake of a 2014 Norwegian movie called In Order if Disappearance, it’s pretty light on actual action but it’s chock full of lame comedy and moments of dark humor. Even the presence of the great William Forsythe can’t save it. This should have been a full on action extravaganza, with Neeson snow plow driving character wiping out the bad guys with his snow plow and blowing shit up non-stop. I sort of get what the director, who also directed the original Norwegian movie, was going for, but it just doesn’t work. It would have worked better as an actual action movie as opposed to whatever the hell it thinks it is.

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Check out my Widow’s Point set visit report!

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Read it here!

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Next Issue: The badass Irish action horror flick Killers Within!

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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

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Zombie 3

Deran Sarafian– Kenny
Beatrice Ring– Patricia
Robert Marius– Doctor Holder
Mike Monty– General Morton
Ottaviano Dell/Acqua– Roger (as Richard Raymond)
Massimo Vanni– Bo (as Alex McBride)
Ulli Reinthaler– Nancy
Marina Loi– Carole
Deborah Bergamini– Lia
Del Russel– Blueheart (voice)

(see the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Lucio Fulci and Bruno Mattei (uncredited) and Claudio Fragasso (uncredited)
Screenplay by Claudio Fragasso and Rosella Drudi (uncredited) and Lucio Fulci (uncredited), based on a story by Claudio Fragasso and Rosella Drudi (uncredited)

Distributed by Video Instant Picture Company, Midnight Video, Media Blasters, Shriek Show, and Severin Films

Rated R for horror violence, gore, and brief language
Runtime– 84 minutes

Buy it here