Taking inspiration from the hyper-realistic gore of Dawn of the Dead, a film it masqueraded as a sequel to, Lucio Fulci’s Zombie Flesh Eaters is something of a guilty pleasure, making up for its theatrical shortcomings with inventively gruesome effects and thrills. When a suspiciously empty yacht floats into harbour, police find themselves talking to Anne Bowles, the daughter of a professor supposedly carrying out research on a tropical island. Peter West (Ian McCulloch), roving reporter extraordinaire, takes it upon himself to visit the island with Anne, calling in a favour from two sexy strangers with a spare boat. Upon arrival at the island, they are greeted – and mauled – by the undead, who seem determined to recruit every living being to their flesh-eating ways. Transparent script changes add an unrelated subplot about other professors trying unsuccessfully to discover the root of this endemic, and accidentally allowing it to spread and run riot in New York.
Although they didn’t have the greatest script to work from, the actors still manage to do a shambolic job of delivering their lines. B-movie veteran Ian McCulloch in particular fails to imbue a single line with convincing passion, while all the women have a tough time finding a balance between hyperoestrogenic and hysterical. On the other hand, Fulci shows promise in two creative scenes, one where a zombie wrestles a shark in an underwater pas de deux, and another where a professor’s frenzied wife is relieved of her pesky eyeball thanks to a sizeable splinter.