Zombi 2 (also known as Zombie, Island of the Living Dead, Zombie Island, Zombie Flesh Eaters and Woodoo) is the best-known of Lucio Fulci's films. It sparked an obsession with zombie films across Europe and made Fulci a horror icon. Despite the fact that the title alludes to the film being a sequel to Zombi (the European title of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead), the films are unrelated. When the film was released in 1979, it was scorned for its extremely bloody content.
A young woman named Anne Bowles (Tisa Farrow) is questioned by the police when it is discovered that the boat belonged to her father (Ugo Bologna). She does not know anything except that her father left for a tropical island to do research. A reporter named Peter West (Ian McCulloch) is assigned by his news editor (director Lucio Fulci in a cameo) to get the story on the mysterious boat. Anne and Peter meet on the boat and decide to work together after finding a note from Anne's father. The note says that he is on the island of Matool and that he has come down with a strange disease. Anne and Peter enlist the aid of a seafaring couple, Brian Hull ('Al Cliver' aka Pier Luigi Conti) and Susan Barrett (Auretta Gay), to help find Matool.
On Matool, Dr. David Menard (Richard Johnson) is hard at work studying the island's secrets. Matool is a cursed place where the dead rise to attack the living, and Menard is determined to find out why. Menard's contemptous, highly-strung wife Paola (Olga Karlatos) wants to leave the island in fear of the zombie attacks, but Menard insists on staying to continue his research. When Anne, Peter, Brian, and Susan reach Matool, the island itself seems to come alive, vomiting forth all the dead buried on the island to kill them.
In the end, all of the island's inhabitants and Susan fall victim to the walking dead; Brian is also infected and dies soon afterwards. Peter and Anne manage to escape by boat, taking the now undead Brian with them as evidence for their story. Shortly after the group leaves the island and reaches the open ocean they receive a radio message that, to their great horror and dismay, the undead have attacked New York City. Marty, the policeman killed by the zombie, and his killer itself have infected the New York population, explosively multiplying the zombie army beyond any hope of control.
The other infamous scene is where a character has her eye gouged out on a splintered piece of wood very slowly and painfully. This scene in particular was edited from many previous releases, but is intact on all three current DVD versions. The film is also remembered among fans for its creepy, synthesized opening theme.
Despite the massive popularity of the film, Zombi 2 was banned in several countries, including Great Britain, due to the massive gore content. It was released by Vipco but with a lot of violence edited out. It was finally released uncut in 2005. Lead actor Ian McCulloch, who is British, never actually had the opportunity to watch the full film until he recorded a commentary for the Roan Group's laserdisc release of Zombi 2 in 1998, and was shocked at the gore level.
Zombi 2's massive European box office take also paved the way for three more sequels, which, like their predecessor, have no relation to any of the other films in the series — they all have self-contained plots. While the Zombi series proved to be incredibly lucrative, Zombi 2 is by far the most recognizable of the European zombie films.
The film was written before Dawn of the Dead was released in Italy, as an action/adventure thriller with no link to George A. Romero's films. The opening and closing scenes (which take place in New York) were added to the script later when the producers wanted to cash-in on the success of Dawn.
The infamous shark vs. zombie scene was filmed in a large salt water tank and the shark was fed horse meat and sedatives before filming.
Sound is somewhat annoying as most people think the film is dubbed when the cast are speaking english the difference is that when the film was made back in 1979 most of the audio was Mono at the time which is why when the actor speaks a fraction of a second later we then hear him so it looks as if its out of sync but later through the film the audio is in sync.
Five years later, Blue Underground' and Media Blasters, the latter of which used their Shriek Show horror banner, struck a deal to release the film on DVD yet again, this time with a newly remastered, uncut version of the film from the original negative. Now truly complete and no longer muddy looking, the two DVDs were released with Media Blasters using the film's original name Zombi 2 while Blue Underground released the film under the Americanized Zombie name. The Media Blasters release also contained a second disc filled with bonus material. The Media Blasters and Blue Underground releases differ slightly in their video. The Blue Underground version is encoded for progressive scan while the MB release is not.
Also worth noting are the differences between the 2004 Media Blasters and Blue Underground releases and the 1998 Anchor Bay disc, which often get confused. While Anchor Bay has a history of showing a great deal of respect for the preservation of purity in original director approved and uncut film releases, the 1998 Anchor Bay release of 'Zombi 2' inexplicably has a few seconds of footage omitted which can be found still intact in the 2004 Blue Underground and Media Blasters release. Both feature comparable digitally remastered, anamorphic 16:9 transfers, Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks as well as bonus materials.
The other films in the Zombi series made it to America as video releases -- none were released theatrically in the States, or had any real connection with this entry other than Zombies.
It was later released in its cut form in the early '90s. The video's sleeve notes were misleading and described the film as uncut.
It was re-submitted in 1999, and an "Extreme version" was passed, with only minimal cuts to the eye gouge scene, and the Zombie Feast Scene. Apparently, the BBFC didn't have a problem passing the movie uncut, but as it was still classed as prosecuted for obscenity, they couldn't by law. In 2005 it was finally passed uncut, and released as a box set with a few other of the Video Nasties.