★★ out of ★★★★★
Ok, I gotta get something off my chest. I saw the trailer for this beauty back in 1985 and was so horrified by its content I could have sworn that I’d seen the whole film — front to back. This was some seriously dense scar tissue built up over the years. But alas, I’d never seen this flic. That was, until a couple weeks ago.
Obviously, this little piece of grindhouse lore goes by a lot of names, up to and including: Dr. Butcher, Dr. Butcher MD (Medical Deviate), Queen of the Cannibals, Zombi 3, Island of the Last Zombies, and the best…Zombie Holocaust. How is it that one film got such cool provenance? That, my good friends is for another time. Suffice it to say, this gorehound fantasy is chock full of zombies, cannibals, and zombie cannibals. Can’t really ask for much more than that.
In one of the greatest and most absurd film premises of all time — a cannibal outbreak in the New York Hospital system is discovered by a sexy morgue assistant (Lori), who happens to be a sexy anthropologist, who happens to have been raised on a sexy cannibal island — where the cannibals/zombies are from! Case closed, right?
Well, not so fast. While cannibals gnawing on New Yorkers is enough to satisfy the casual grindhouse gore fan, Zombie Holocaust decides to take the party abroad. Lori teams up with a fellow hospital worker and doctor (Peter) who seems to have some rather broad law enforcement capabilities and they head to cannibal island to route out the anthropophagus savages. But before they head out to cannibal island, Peter the doctor/investigator and Lori the sexy morgue assistant/anthropologist team up with Susan a busy-body journalist and some guy named George.
The team arrives at cannibal island to discover that Dr. Obrero (stick with us…there’s no more Drs. in this story) has coopted the natives, is single-handedly manufacturing cannibals and zombies, and his madness is the jumping off point for a bus-load of GORE. Glorious gore. The team discovers Dr. Obrero’s penchant for gore and is having none of it! Lori reunites with her long lost cannibal brethren and Zombie Holocaust devolves in to an all out zombie, cannibal, gory nastiness. Needless to say, Dr. Obrero gets his comeuppance in a spectacularly gory fashion.
To be clear, this is a deep-dive in the horror genre and certainly not a “gateway” film. If you think you’ve tapped out the Italian-zombie-gore-film-sub-genre — think again. Dust off that long-forgotten laser disc and have yourself an Italian-zombie-gore-party.