Release Date(s)1989 (May 29, 2018)
Studio(s)Flora Film/Variety Film (Severin Films)
- Film/Program Grade: C
- Video Grade: C
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: C
Following the craziness of Zombie 3 is the unintended sequel Zombie 4: After Death, meaning that the film was made as a standalone with the title After Death, but was ultimately released with the Zombie moniker. Directed by Claudio Fragasso, who co-wrote the previous film with Rossella Drudi, After Death attempts to mix the voodoo zombie myth together with the more modern goopy and gory zombie milieu. Taking place on a remote island where a group of gun-toting mercenaries find themselves stranded and searching for answers to the disappearances of scientific researchers from years before, it’s certainly a more straightforward zombie horror film than its predecessor. Unfortunately, that its biggest fault.
Like Zombie 3, the undead in After Death do things that they don’t ordinarily do, including speaking and firing guns. However, that’s not a measurement of the film’s entertainment value. By comparison, things aren’t as compellingly wacky and the film is a bit of slog to get through at times. I was occasionally reminded of similar beats from the original Zombie (or Zombi 2 for those keeping track), but none of them are anywhere near as interesting. Characters spend a great deal of time either sitting around and waiting for their eventual demise or searching for clues to what’s going on, despite us, as an audience, already fully aware of what to expect. There’s a severe lack of off-the-wall moments to keep things interesting and lively, outside of a few extreme gore moments. It’s obviously a more serious attempt at a traditional Italian zombie movie, which is fine, but the results aren’t as enticing or enjoyable.
Severin Films’ release of Zombie 4 sports what is described as a new “2K scan, uncut for the first in America.” Compared to Zombie 3, it’s definitely a step up in quality as detail has improved, but also the encode, as it appears less chunky than its predecessor. That said, it still has its own minor problems including colors, black levels, and density issues. It’s also a tad soft, which lumped in with the rest of its faults, leads me to believe that the transfer was print-sourced. It’s bright with good contrast and you can tell what’s going on throughout the entire film, which is a plus. Scratches and frame instability issues also pop up from time to time. The sole audio option is an English 2.0 mono DTS-HD track with no subtitle options. Dialogue, although a little loose sync-wise, is well-rendered. Sound effects, as juicy and explosive as you could want, are given decent heft, while the score and opening and closing theme song come through clearly with good separation.
As for the extras, there’s a decent amount of interview material to check out, including Run Zombie Run!, a 32-minute interview with director Claudio Fragasso and screenwriter Rossella Drudi; Jeff Stryker in Manila, a 10-minute interview with actor Chuck Peyton; Blonde vs Zombies, a 2 1/2-minute interview with actress Candice Daly (sourced and re-edited from the previous Shriek Show/Media Blasters DVD release); After Death: Backstage, which is 4 minutes of on-set behind-the-scenes footage; the original trailer; and a CD soundtrack, which is included in the first 3,000 copies.
Zombie 4: After Death offers up a mostly run-of-the-mill experience, at least for my taste, but fans of the good old-fashioned, gut-munching splatterfests of yesteryear are bound to appreciate it, warts and all. Severin Films offers up the film in all of its bloody glory with a watchable transfer and decent extras.
- Tim Salmons