Review: Whenever something becomes popular, so many people have to try and imitate it. Such is the case with the Italian cannibal movie genre, which started around the early 1970s with films like 'Man From Deep River.' Then in 1980 came what many call the crown jewel of this genre, Ruggero Deodato's 'Cannibal Holocaust.' Around this time zombie films were starting to become popular all over, including Italy. From there came films like Lucio Fulci's 'Zombie' and Bruno Mattei's 'Hell of the Living Dead.'
What's interesting is that only one director had the idea of putting the two together. Cannibals and zombies wreaking havoc in the same movie? Sounds like cinema gold to horror and exploitation buffs. But as we all know, many of these types of film's didn't deliver on what they promised and I'm sorry to say that 'Zombie Holocaust,' known as Dr. Butcher M.D. here in the States, is one of them. That's not to say there isn't some enjoyment that can be derived from it, but I strongly suggest you don't have too high of expectations.
The film has the word 'Zombie' in the title, but it actually fails as a zombie movie. A better title would have been something like 'Cannibals of Zombie Island.' But even as a cannibal movie it isn't perfect because when watching it back-to-back with another example of the genre it feels and looks like a cheap knock-off. Hell they even used the same locations and sets as 'Zombie.' But if you like a good slice of low budget cheese you might find much to like here.
The gore is decent looking, but I won't give away the better bits. There's also a fair amount of it. None of these films will win awards for great acting, but the cast does it's best. Donald O'Brien, who plays the mad doctor, is especially fun to watch. The island scenery is nice to look at. There are some very graphic and bloody kills, the kind that'll make your jaw drop.
The pace starts kind of slow, but picks up and moves along ok. Like I said there's some good cheese here for lovers of low grade films. A few nice shots, like the one of a beautiful sunset. That about does it in the good department. As I already said, this film fails as a zombie movie. They don't show up until almost an hour in and don't get to do much. Plus their make-up is atrocious.
The characters are totally one-dimensional. The one exception is maybe Lori. The score is pretty bland and also repetitive. And if you've seen any other cannibal movies, then you've seen a lot of what happens in this movie before. This is the kind of movie that can only be enjoyed by a certain breed of film lovers. I myself have always kind of liked it, but it's not one of the better films of it's kind.