Zombie 5: Killing Birds – Blu-Ray Review

The ‘Zombi’ series in a nutshell goes like this: Zombi is Dawn of the Dead, in the Italian Dario Argento cut that takes out a lot of the satire and makes it into more of an action movie.  The following year, Lucio Fulci, the king of Italian gore movies, made Zombi 2. Zombi 2 went out under a couple of different titles: Zombie or Zombie Flesh Eaters. That is one of the great zombie movies, and famously has a scene where a zombie literally fights a shark, and also has one of the great eye-gouging scenes in cinematic history. Zombi 3 was also directed by Fulci, but he left near the end. There was a Zombi 4—or Zombie 4: After Death—an Italian-US coproduction shot in the Philippines, and then Zombi 5, or Killing Birds, which is the only one primarily shot in North America or with synced sound (most of these were overdubbed, like typical Italian films). To add to the confusion, there are at least two dozen other films that have been released as “Zombi films” to piggyback on these… it all depends what country you’re looking at, as there are Thai, British, American and German series, amongst others. But Zombie Holocaust, Day of the Dead and many others have been titled as part of the series…

Zombi 5 is probably as good as Zombi 4—although the series did take a seriously dip when Fulci stopped working on it, as he’s a pretty good film maker. It was directed by Claudio Lattanzi, as you can imagine there is no connection to what has gone before except for the fact that there are zombies in them. But they are quite fun to watch back to back anyway. It’s about some college ornithologists who are searching the wilderness for an extinct type of bird. They find an old house, but now they will have to face not just a horde of birds but a group of blood-thirsty zombies.

The gore is not as good as any of the Fulci movies, but there is plenty of batshit zombie stuff and crazy plot twists. It doesn’t quite have the climax that Zombi 4 has, but as with all of these movies, they all have a bit of a downer ending—which goes right back to Dawn of the Dead. Robert Vaughn appears in probably the worst slumming of his career, and Tenebrae Lara Wendel also has a role.

The Italians kept zombie films alive for years before the recent resurgence—it wasn’t until 28 Days Later, Resident Evil and Shaun of the Dead that zombies became a hot again. Now there’s more zombie films than there’s ever been, and one of the highest-rated TV shows is The Walking Dead. Of all the cinematic monsters, the zombie truly is the one that never dies.

The disc from Vinegar Syndrome features a 2K restoration from the original negative, with the original English audio track and the Italian dubbed track. A 50-minute interview with Claudio Lattanzi and shorter interview with soundman Larry Revene are included—not shot on Zoom, which is nice, so they must have been filmed before Coronavirus. That’s good, because I am getting sick of Zoom interviews. A commentary by Samm Deighan rounds out the package.

Ian Schultz

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