Lucio Fulci has a reputation that is one part horror genius, one part derivative hack. He’s at his best when he’s not pulling almost direct inspiration from other more notable sources. Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 is not only derivative of other better zombie films, but it is an illogical bit of nonsense that has no link to the previous Zombi movies apart from the fact they share a name.
And that is because you’ll have seen most of this done before. The contrast between the military and the scientist community in Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 is practically the same as George Romero’s Day of the Dead released a few years previously. Working together, they have conjured up a virus, cunningly named Death One, that has the power to bring the dead back to life and wreak havoc on the populace. Clever chaps. Meanwhile a group of soldiers on leave join up with a bus full of young men and women in order to survive, and they find themselves on the receiving end of the zombie plague.
I don’t ask too much from zombie films as they are usually very much like their subject matter – a total shambles. The one thing I do ask for, no matter how bad the script or performances, is that the zombies have consistency. If they run, then they run. If they shamble, they shamble. If they have the power of speech, to brandish a weapon or the ability to plan an attack, then by all means go ahead and give them these powers. The rule of thumb is that you give them one power or a select few as appropriate and leave it that. Here, instead, they are an amalgam of different abilities but always inconsistent. Some shamble, some use weapons, some can leap great heights. Heck, some even have no body and yet are still capable of projecting their disembodied head towards their prey.
In its favour, there are about half a dozen solid shots that demonstrate how good both Fulci and backup director Bruno Mattei can be, but these are tarnished by a nonsensical plot and at least thirty more shots which don’t make sense. It’s possibly only because of Mattei stepping in at the last minute, due to Fulci’s failing health, that the film isn’t worse than this. Apparently, he contributed about 40% of the final cut of the film after Fulci’s contributions were whittled down to about 50 minutes of footage. The significant contributions from Mattei are, it seems, all of the sequences featuring the military and the hazmat suited soldiers, which give the story context and make a lot more sense.
And so it is with a heavy heart that I have to confirm that Zombie Flesh Eaters 2 just isn’t very good. It tries to be coherent and fails, possibly because of the two directors behind it. Had either Fulci or Mattei had full creative control – without outside influence – then it might have been worthy of a bigger historical note than being that film with the flying zombie head.