Zombie 4 Blu Ray Review (Severin Films)
Zombie 4 (aKa After Death, Zombie Flesh Eaters 3, & Zombi 4) is a 1988 horror film directed by Claudio Fragasso (Troll 2, Monster Dog, Night Killer, & Scalps) under the name “Clyde Anderson”. Fragasso’s wife Rosella Drudi (Robowar, Cop Game, Beyond Darkness, & Troll 2) ghost wrote various screenplays over the years. She actually got the sole credit for the story & script for this sequel. It doesn’t have any connections to the previous Zombie/Zombi films. It was shot in the Philippines back to back with Bruno Mattei’s Strike Commando 2. Claudio Fragasso & Bruno Mattei had to share the same camera for both productions. One director would work during the day & the other would take over at night. They would consistently switch to make their filming schedules work. They also shared the same producer Franco Gaudenzi, art director Mimmo Scavia, special effects artist Franco Di Girolamo, special effects artist Rodolfo Torrente, production manager Giovanni Paolucci, production supervisor Manrico Passerotti, stunt coordinator Ottaviano Dell’Acqua, stunt coordinator Dante Abadeza, & various other crew members pulled double duty on both films. Claudio Fragasso was also the assistant director on Strike Commando 2 while filming Zombie 4 so he basically never went to sleep. This was one of the last few films made during the Italian zombie gore craze. 1973’s A Virgin Among the Living Dead & 1982’s Panic were also re-titled Zombie 4 in other countries. Porn star Jeff Stryker made his feature film debut in this. It didn’t get a home video release in America until 2002!!!!
Researchers at a remote island discover the locals are practicing black magic & voodoo. They end up killing the leader (played by: James Sampson from StageFright, Robot Jox, & Shocking Dark) who happens to be a priest. A curse resurrects the dead & they take revenge on the outsiders lead by the wife of the deceased priest. Chaos is all over & no one is safe from the zombies looking for payback. A scientist couple sends away their daughter with a necklace to her safety. Years later, Jenny (played by: Candice Daly from The Young and the Restless, Cop Game, Hell Hunters, & Liquid Dreams) comes back to the island with a group of mercenaries that include Tommy (played by: Don “The Dragon” Wilson from Bloodfist frachise, Ring of Fire 1/2, The Expendables, & Out for Blood), Dan (played by: Jim Gaines from Island of the Living Dead, Zombies: The Beginning, Fireback, & Double Edge), & Rod (played by: Nick Nicholson from Dune Warriors, Raiders of the Sun, Naked Vengeance, & Ninja Warriors) plus his girlfriend Louise (played by: Adrianne Joseph from Eye of the Eagle 2: Inside the Enemy & Double Target). Three hikers Chuck (played by: Jeff Stryker from Dirty Love & Ladies’ Man), David (played by: Massimo Vanni from Warriors of the Wasteland, Rats: Night of Terror, & The Wax Mask), & Mad (played by: Jim Moss from American Kickboxer 2, Angelfist, Kill Zone, & Battle Gear) find a mysterious cave. They accidentally resurrect the curse from before which brings the zombies back. Chuck barely escapes & joins the other group. Jenny is about to face her deepest fears & she has plenty of help this time for retaliation against the monsters that ruined her life. Can they survive these relentless killing machines?
Zombie 4 starts out so strong in the beginning & it gives you hope that it’s going to be a crazy story about black magic & voodoo which was becoming popular in the sub genre with many other productions. After the flashback, it randomly goes to many years later with the main character grown up. She is randomly with a group of mercenaries going back to where it all started. There’s no explanation on how she met them & why after all these years she decided to go back there. It’s a little too convenient that 3 strangers end up reviving the same curse that changed her life when she’s there at that exact moment. I consider Claudio Fragasso & Rosella Drudi a great creative team. They have done so many imaginative things in their film careers but everything about Zombie 4 seemed kinda lazy to me. It’s been awhile since I revisited this & I always thought it had more potential after that awesome build up. Besides that, this sequel is full of brutal entertainment. It’s loaded with gruesome moments & top notch special effects. It has a nice atmosphere to it & the undead are a little smarter than usual in this. They are also faster than what you would expect back then. Horror fans won’t be disappointed with all the kills & crazy looking zombies in this. It delivered all the goods when it comes to the viewing experience. Just don’t go into it expecting any kind of story or consistent structure because it’s all over the place.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Severin Films. This 1080p (1.85:1) 2K transfer definitely looks much better than the previous Shriek Show/Media Blasters DVD. It’s a pretty big upgrade from that but this film is a little more low budget compared to it’s companion Zombie 3 but it’s still the best it’s going to ever look on home video. I am glad that Severin Films gave 4 proper treatment because it’s a fun film to watch & it’s one of those types to enjoy on a drunken night with all your friends. The DTS-HD Master English Audio 2.0 is also a huge upgrade from before. All the action & madness in this sequel are enhanced by it. The soundtrack & score are main elements that stand out during the track. It brings you back to the 80s! I will say the awful dubbing adds some comedy to this.
Let’s discuss the special features on this release from Severin Films! “Run Zombie Run” is an almost 32 minute brand new interview with Claudio Fragasso & Rosella Drudi. Fragasso says he wanted to get his revenge on the zombie sub genre after his experiences with Hell of the Living Dead & Zombie 3. He talks about mainly getting to film at night when Strike Commando 2 was done for the day. They say it was never planned to be apart of the Zombie/Zombi series but producers wanted to open up the market for it with a title that have been successful in the past for them. Fragasso chats about how different their zombies were in this compared to the other productions in the sub genre. He mentions he had to direct more footage at the same studio that The Church was filmed at to finish it. They basically mention that Fragasso barely got his own projects made that weren’t with Bruno Mattei. This project wasn’t really planned & barely financed at the time. They basically used whatever they had from the Strike Commando 2 crew to get this made out of no where with their own cast. They discuss the music & special effects in the film. They mention that they couldn’t stand the two that did the special optical effects. The Filipino crew that worked on Apocalypse Now were involved with this project. One night they gave Fragasso alcohol that made him hallucinate. Fragasso talks a little about the cast. He didn’t know Jeff Stryker was a porn star until the end. He almost died a few times during the production. Rosella Drudi says IMDB has the date wrong for this project & that it was actually done in 1985/1986. They cover various other subjects in this. It’s in Italian with English subtitles. “Jeff Stryker in Manila” is an almost 9 minute exclusive interview with the actor. He mentions he used a different name for Zombie 4. He brings up that most people on the set didn’t know that he was a famous porn star. He talks about his experience working on another normal film called Dirty Love.
He says he couldn’t understand the crew at all during the filming of the production. He brings up that the Filipino people worked for a $1 to $3 on this. The $3 locals were actually risking their lives with dangerous stunts. He says they were all happy about working on a film like this. He chats about how he thought he would have more opportunities to be in bigger movies but his reputation as a porn star ruined his chances of that. He brings up that his co-star Candice Daly was killed & how it shocked him. At the end, he shows off his action figure. “Blonde vs Zombies” is a 2 minute archival interview with actress Candice Daly. She talks about how she got the part in this. Her boyfriend at the time was working on the other film that was being produced at the same time. She mentions the rough conditions of making a film in the Philippines. She chats about working with the director & that she enjoyed the special effects on this. This is from the original Shriek Show/Media Blasters DVD release but it’s been re-titled & re-edited so it’s a nice little addition to this familiar extra. “Behind the Scenes Footage” runs almost 4 minutes & it’s nice to see what went down behind the camera for this project. You get the Theatrical Trailer for the film also. Last but not least, one of my personal favorite extras from this is the soundtrack CD! It’s very catchy & it takes you back to the time the film was made. I love the black cases that Severin Films have been using lately. These releases really stand out in my collection. This blu ray release comes RECOMMENDED, you need to add to your Zombie/Zombi collection with this release! Zombie 4 is still better than most zombie movies made today!!!! It’s available everywhere right now, check it out!