So “Zombi 3” is technically “Zombi 2” while “Zombi 2” is technically “Zombi” if you cut out “Dawn of the Dead” which was renamed “Zombi.” It’s a confusing rabbit hole that goes so deep, you’ll pass out from the confusion. In either case, Bruno Mattei’s (Lucio Fulci’s? Claudio Fragrasso’s?) “Zombi 3” is one of those so bad it’s good zombie films that I didn’t hate. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have a history with it, but I kind of loved how aimless “Zombi 3” was with its zero plot, paper thin characters and the way it meanders back and forth.
Some science people are experimenting on a random Caribbean jungle island with a new serum called Death One. Death One has the ability to re-animate the dead, but not as normal people, but as flesh eating ghouls. When a military raid allows one of the subjects to escape with a container of Death One, he’s infected and transforms in to an undead ghoul. In an effort to stop his carnage, he is stopped and his corpse, burned, but his ashes turn in to a dead cloud blanketing the island and infecting the denizens in to the walking dead. Meanwhile a group of GI’s and a small group of tourists band together to fight their way off of the island to safety. Now they must contend with zombies, the elements, and a group of armed soldiers in hazmat suits murdering everyone in sight by order of the government.
If you loved “The Crazies,” “Return of the Living Dead,” “Dawn of the Dead,” “Day of the Dead,” “Zombi,” “Rabid,” “Vanishing Point,” “Rambo,” and “Nightmare City,” you’ll love “Zombi 3” as it rips them off liberally. Which is not to say that “Zombi 3” doesn’t offer up its own share of spooks, as there are a slew of fun, creepy scenes teeming with flesh eating zombies. One of the better ones involves the group of Italian commandoes watching over a hotel, as they’re slowly bombarded with the dead. There’s also a tense moment on a bridge that injects claustrophobia quite well. I was never quite sure what kind of zombies “Zombi 3” was as the rules set for the ghouls here are often fast and loose. Sometimes they run, sometimes they creep up on the victims. Sometimes they can speak and communicate, and other times they just shamble around.
Sometimes they can hang from ceilings and drop from roofs like cats, and other times they’re stumbling down stairs. In the end, we also find out that they’re cognizant enough to run a radio station and dedicate music to one another. No, seriously! There’s also a ton of muscle bound commandoes engaging in martial arts with zombies, and the most memorable scene involving an infected patient giving birth. “Zombi 3” excels in its vague narrative, and its lack of information and exposition becomes null once you get past the tenth shoot out, and zombie invasion. “Zombi 3” is the wacky, weird brother to “Zombi 2” and “Zombi” and if you’re up for some yuks and good old one on one fights with the walking, oozing dead, you’ll have as good a time as I did. It’s not many zombie movies that end on an upbeat eighties rock tune.