We’re back in the realm of voodoo zombies in Zombie Flesh Eaters 3, once again only linked to the previous films in name alone. Accompanied by a cheesy power ballad from Al Festa (no, me either), a woman returns to an island where her parents were killed by the living dead when she was a young child. Joining her are a group of mercenaries hired to protect her on the expedition. Is it worth me explaining precisely what happens next, or are you with me on that one? Yeah, if you know your zombie cinema, you know exactly what’s going to happen.
The gaps in logic are, frankly, horrendous. It’s either due to bad acting, bad direction, bad editing or a combination of all three, but at times of mortal peril the last thing you want to do is stand around for thirty seconds waiting for death’s clammy embrace. Despite being a mere 80 minutes long (84 minutes in NTSC format) it still feels baggy and dramatically stilted. I’ve seen all sorts of zombie films, from the great to the very worst, and it won’t surprise you if I say this is right at the bottom end of the scale.
A couple of decent gore effects aside, this is an example of just how ridiculous the apparently serious side of the zombie genre had become by the 1980s. Or, perhaps, the exploitative “make a quick buck” side of the genre. At the more entertaining side of the spectrum were the likes of Return of the Living Dead if you wanted laughs, or Romero’s own Day of the Dead if you were after a much more nihilistic stab at things. But this? No, it’s not very good.
It doesn’t get off to a good start, with a slightly overweight voodoo priest chanting some arcane nonsense while a clone of Tina Turner writhes around the place nearby. If you think that’s bad, it gets worse in the space of a couple of minutes. She becomes this shrieking zombie creature complete with horrendous false teeth, and the voodoo priest starts clutching his not so manly bosom. I’m not sure what this was supposed to tell us, other than voodoo is probably a bad idea.
Look out for a case of terrible parenting as well. Despite having ample space and opportunity to escape from the living dead, Jenny (that woman who returns years later) is told by her mother to run away into the jungle… all by herself. Then she’s surrounded – very, very slowly – and devoured by the dead. Here’s a thought: next time, just run through the forest with your daughter to safety. Trust me, you’d make it.
Aside from the soundtrack – which is so bad it’s good – and the gore, there is also pleasure to found in the exotic tropical location. The sad thing is you have to look beyond the poor acting to see it. More often than not your eye will be drawn back to the inane discussions taking place in the foreground.
And there is the biggest issue of all – it’s basically people standing around for a long time watching stuff happen. And they mostly spend it sat in just the one building while the zombies, often wearing black rags that make them look like ninja zombies, wait patiently for them outside.
Save yourself the time – don’t bother.