(aka Dr. Butcher M.D.)
Directed by Marino Giralami
Starring Ian McCulloch, Alexandra Delli Colli, Sherry Buchanan & Peter O'Neal
Shriek Show ; Region 1 ; NTSC ; Anamorphic 1.85:1 ; Dolby Digital 2.0
Interviews , Deleted Scene, Scenes Added to US Theatrical Version, Trailer, Trailers for 'Beyond The Darkness', 'Jungle Holocaust', 'Eaten Alive' & 'Burial Ground'
Here's another title that was released to the Australian video scene during the eighties in an obscenely heavily cut version. For years since, I've looked forward to seeing the chunk-blowing mayhem that placed 'Zombie Holocaust' in such high regard amongst such prominent gorehounds as Chas (Gore Score) Balun.
Sadly, the uncut version of 'Zombie Holocaust' was quite disappointing. Yes, it has the gore (although perhaps not as much as one might expect), but sweet little else. It's a cold, poorly made film (at one point an arm mysteriously reattaches itself to its owner after taking a fatal dive from a building) with no personality. It lacks the atmosphere so prevalent in the zombie films of Lucio Fulci, and the cannibal films of Umberto Lenzi. In fact, the zombie and cannibal themes in the movie appear to have little relevance to one another. The gore effects, the film's raison d'etre, are very uneven in intensity. A neat throat slashing and eyeball plucking are let down by an unusually tame vocal cord removal and brain transplant. The film's climax is so underwhelming that the appearance of the closing credits come as a surprise. Hell, 'Zombie Holocaust' doesn't even have any of the cool music so often found in other films of its subgenre.
Shriek Show have provided a very average disc in terms of video and sound. The print appears to be in quite good condition, but the anamorphic transfer appears very soft and out of focus. This may be due to the way it was filmed (and frankly, that wouldn't surprise me), but it does make it at times difficult to watch. Apart from that there doesn't appear to be any problems with the compression. The audio seems quite muffled at times, but again this is likely a result of the original dialogue recording.
The extra features on the disc are one slightly redeeming feature. Firstly, there's an interview with special effects guy, Maurizio Trani. This is pretty amusing (although somewhat awkward) given that Trani appears to have no interest in the film (or the interview) whatsoever. He can't recall much of the making of the film and even admits to never having seen the final product. Also included is a very dull deleted scene, a gallery of promotional material, and the US & German theatrical trailers. Trailers are also provided for other shriek show titles, 'Jungle Holocaust', 'Beyond The Darkness', 'Eaten Alive' and 'Burial Ground'. The highlight, however, would be two extras relating to the US theatrical release of the film, (retitled 'Dr. Butcher M.D.'), in which footage from a never completed film 'Tales That Will Tear Your Heart Out' was spliced into the opening titles. Scenes from the 'Tales' are presented (although not the exact scenes that were included in 'Dr Butcher') along with some fascinating commentary by producer of 'Tales', Roy Frumkes. There's also an interview with Frumkes in which he explains the origin of this footage and how it came to be added to 'Dr Butcher'. While (at about twenty minutes) this part of the extra features does seem to be stretching its tenous link with the film a bit far (especially seeing as that extra footage is thankfully not included in the feature on the disc), it's interesting stuff, and a good example of how films can be bastardised for the sake of trying to make them a little more commercially palatable. Also included is a short photo gallery from behind the scenes of 'Tales'. And finally, easter egg hunters will stumble across alternate english versions of the 'Zombie Holocaust' opening and closing titles (Wow!).
Clearly there are a number of people who love this film, and for them, this disc is probably just worth picking up. But for those who have yet to see it, be warned that you may find it a truly underwhelming experience. Oh, and could someone explain why this title is region encoded?