Oh, where to begin?
If you’ve seen Lucio Fulci’s Zombie, then congratulations: you already know most of the story in Zombie Holocaust. Corpses in New York City are being mutilated and it’s discovered by the authorities that a group of immigrants from a faraway island are responsible for ripping up the bodies and chowing down on the pieces. An expedition is organized to travel to the primitive people in order to discover what dastardly, nefarious things are going on to cause the corpse mutilations.
Zombie Holocaust is pretty much Zombie, only 97% fat-free (now, with less sodium!). It was even released as Zombi 3 to capitalize on Fulci’s success with Zombie (which was released as Zombi 2, even though it’s not a sequel to anything. Still with me?). Unlike Zombie, it’s missing a lot of what made Zombie so entertaining and simultaneously squick-worthy; there is no zombie fighting a shark and there’s no version of the slow eye mutilation. The acting is bad, the “action” scenes plod along and seeing a zombie take a boat motor propellor to the face toward the end of the flick is little payoff for a movie that delivers something you probably have already seen.
That being said, Zombie Holocaust is not totally horrific. Sure, it’s been done already, but there’s a certain perverse fun in watching horror flicks, so even though Zombie Holocaust is a retread, so are 8,000 other horror movies. The cheesy fun of watching a bad dub with dull special effects remains intact, so it’s got that going for it.
The expedition team is slowly picked off before discovering that a surgeon on the island is manipulating the bodies of the dead and experimenting on them. Thus, the zombification plague is fully explained. As you would expect from a mad scientist, the evil doctor’s none too pleased about the group discovering his special, special project and so he orders his zombies to slay the lot and let him mess around with some of the group while they’re still alive. Another member of the expedition is crowned “queen” of the tribe that’s still alive. They’re cannibals, which makes her inexplicably QUEEN OF THE CANNIBALS. Don’t be confused by logic. This is just an excuse to get a pretty girl naked. Yes, I know. A lot of you are biting your knuckles at the very thought of a pretty lady naked, but it’ll be alright.
Like a lot of z-grade horror movies, Zombie Holocaust is less about any sort of story or central theme and a lot more about creatively dismembering fake dummies with lots of Karo syrup inside. (None of the dead folks even remotely look real in this film. Some scenes it appears the crew didn’t even bother to hide that they were using a dummy.)
Horror fans, go for it; everyone else… uh, you might want to skip it.