If you’re looking for some hardcore spaghetti splatter with extra meat sauce and a second helping of cheese, you’ve come to the right place. Zombie Holocaust is without a doubt one of Italy’s best examples of pure sleaze with an ample amount of gore, nudity, cannibalism, and, most importantly, plagiarism. And not only does the film plagiarize George Romero, but some of the best Italian horror films out there, including Lucio Fulci’s classic Zombie (1979) and Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust (1979). The two stories merge into one gorefest that is sure to please die hard horror aficionados, and make others sick.
The film stars Italian horror vet Ian McCulloch (Zombie, Alien Contamination) as a New York reporter named Peter (just like in Zombie!) whose interest in a series of cadaver dismemberment at a city medical school throws him and a doctor (Alexandra Delli Colli, The New York Ripper) into the jungles of South America where several clues lead to the mysterious Dr. Obrero (Richard O’Brien), a Moreau-like figure who lives on a desolate island infested with cannibals. When Peter and company reveal that Obrero has been reanimating recently dead locals into mindless zombies by placing live brains into the skulls of the corpses, the mad doctor sends them into the forests where they must battle for their lives or become next in line for lunch.
Originally built upon the foundation of two unfinished films called Queen of the Cannibals and Tales That’ll Tear Your Heart Out, Zombie Holocaust is really just another follow-up rip-off in the box office wake left by Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1979) and Zombie. The film was still fairly popular in Europe and eventually released Stateside in a badly censored version called Doctor Butcher where it became a surprising box office success in the summer of 1982. This lead to the release of more Italian zombie/cannibal madness here in America where four of Fulci’s films where released back-to-back in 1984, including the ever popular Gates of Hell (1980). Completely uncut and featuring the semi-famous decapitation-by-propeller scene, Zombie Holocaust is as stupidly entertaining as European horror is going to get, though not as well-made as Zombie nor as intense as Cannibal Holocaust.