By Jerome Reuter
In recent years, Italian director Claudio Fragasso has gained somewhat of a cult following. This is largely due to the recent popularity of Troll 2. A film considered by many, to be one of the worst ever made. In my opinion, Fragasso is as a better writer than director. Some of his credits include, Hell Of The Living Dead and Rats, some of the more popular entries in Bruno Mattei’s filmography. To get the full Fragasso experience however, there’s one film that’s essential viewing. His 1988 release, Zombie 4: After Death. This is another entry in the “so bad it’s good” category. Complete with awkward dubbing, laughable effects, and recycled sequences.
The films first sequence, gives anyone watching an idea for what to expect. The events of the film take place on an island, somewhere in the South Pacific. We open with a group of well dressed yuppies, armed with automatic weapons. They’re getting ready to go head on with a mad voodoo priest, who looks like Rick James on a bender. They successfully kill off the priest, unleashing a curse. This in turn, raises an army of ghouls from beyond the grave. Flash forward to several years alter, and a group of mercenaries make their way to the island.
Also, did I forget to mention this films main theme? It really is one of the catchiest you’ll ever hear. Whenever I hear it however, I feel like I’m about to watch Bloodsport or Kickboxer.
From this point forward, the film hops the train to generic land. Typical scenery from anything done in the Philippines around this time period. The mercenaries, who of course are all war buddies, squaring off against the zombies. A fight to the death ensues, all against a lush jungle backdrop.
A lot of sequences are taken right out of more successful entries. The mercenaries have a distinct look, that we previously saw in Zombie 3. Not surprising, Fragasso contributed a large amount to that one. It’s also the film that ruined the career of Lucio Fulci. Thanks a lot, Claudio.
Speaking of the godfather of gore, you might notice some familiarity with the zombies in this one. That’s right, they’re VERY similar to the ghouls from Zombie. They move in almost the exact same way, and the infamous ‘graveyard’ scene is duplicated. Still, I’m somewhat of a purist. I always prefer a slow moving zombie, to one who’s been given a pair of running shoes. The make up leaves a lot to be desired, but the poor quality almost has a charm to it.
Although I won’t give the ending away, it’s typical Fragasso. You know it’s not going to have a positive resolution, but an excessively gory one. So which begs the question, is this film worth watching? Absolutely. It’s definitely a schlock fest, but it’s nothing but fun from start to finish.