Zombi Holocaust is just as grisly and bad taste as you’d imagine a film called Zombi Holocaust would be. The 1980 shocker from Marino Girolami (under the pseudonym Frank Martin) follows a group of scientists who follow a bloody trail of death in New York to a remote Indonesian island where they meet a mad doctor who performs experiments on both the living and dead. Along the way, they must battle zombies and cannibals, because of course they do. Cue all the traits you’d expect from this kind of Italian exploitation gorefest – blood, hammy performances, blood, sleaze, blood, blood, and blood.
Re-edited and released in the US as Doctor Butcher M.D. in 1982, 88 Films’ new 4K UHD and Blu-ray releases present the original uncut film – described on the case as an “‘orrible classic”. While anybody who isn’t a devout follower of sleazy Italian exploitation horror would call this anything but a ‘classic’, there’s a lot to love for established genre fans. Gratuitous gore and nudity are frequent, backed by Nico Fidenco’s dark, pulsing electronic score (one of the film’s highlights). Italian horror of this era is so blatant in its bad taste that you kind of have to admire it – it knows exactly what it is, and if you don’t like it, it isn’t going to make any apologies. The story is nonsense, and just an excuse for the mayhem to unravel. Performances are pretty poor across the board. But who cares? The audience for this sort of film is well-established at this point, and will have a bloody good time with it. It’s not going to win over any new fans to the subgenre, but it isn’t trying to.
88 Films’ 4K transfer is a stunner, bringing the lurid Technicolor visuals to life with Dolby Vision while maintaining the film’s gritty, filmic nature. It looks brilliant, which is to say, it looks awful – the best possible transfer considering the source limitations and intended dirty look of this sort of exploitation horror. Two audio tracks are provided: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Again, considering the source, both sound as good as can be expected. As mentioned above, Nico Fidenco’s score is a highlight and that sounds killer. Oodles of special features and a surprisingly packed booklet round out this release, giving fans plenty to sink their teeth into.
Zombi Holocaust lives up to its title as an exercise in bad taste and endurance for viewers, but those who are already on board with Italian exploitation horror will have an absolute ball. What a sordid little delight this is.
ZOMBI HOLOCAUST is available now on Blu-ray and 4K UHD from 88 Films
Check out our Unboxing video of ZOMBI HOLOCAUST here.