Zombies are known for being pretty slow movers but apparently if you put a topless woman and a shark in front of one he perks right up. You can see this in the best scene of 1979's Zombi 2, which isn't actually a sequel to anything. It was put out as a sequel to Dawn of the Dead but there's nothing in Zombi 2 to explicitly connect it with George Romero's film. Zombi 2 reintroduces Voodoo to the zombie story, a classic component of zombie films that Romero's movies broke ground by moving away from. Most of the virtues of Zombi 2 are in that one incredible action sequence, the rest of the film is mostly a bit silly and lazy.
Well, this fellow has some nice screen presence. A boat drifts into New York Harbour and a couple cops board it to find no-one aboard but a big zombie who chomps the throat out of one of them. This movie's zombies really like to go for the jugular and there are a lot of shots of ripped neck with blood splurting out.
The boat belongs to the father of Anne Bowles, a young woman played by Tisa Farrow who gets top billing despite being little more than a wide eyed, swooning sack of potatoes throughout the film. If you want a textbook example of women and minorities getting short shrift in a horror film, this one covers the bases.
The zombies originated from an uncharted Caribbean island where Dr. Menard (Richard Johnson) is trying to save everyone despite the furious verbal abuse from his wife, Paola (Olga Karlatos). He also has to deal with the childlike superstition of the film's only black character, Lucas (Dakar), whose fearful dependence on the white man's wisdom makes him seen retrograde for 1934 in this film from the late 70s.
Anne meets a man named Peter (Ian McCulloch) she can unwisely tag along with into dangerous situations and allow to make all decisions for her and the two head to the Caribbean. They hitch a ride with a couple of vacationers played by Al Cliver and Auretta Gay. Auretta Gay really deserved top billing for this film.
Swimming practically naked with a tiger shark, she's part of the film's three way action sequence when a zombie taps in, springing from a mass of coral.
She fights off the zombie by grabbing a handful of coral and smashing it in his face, something which seems like it really shouldn't work but this guy is far from your average zombie. Using clear strategy and agility, the fellow actually wrestles with the shark.
If all the film's zombies were like this guy we'd have had 28 Days Later twenty three years early. It's a great scene, I certainly hope the poor shark wasn't traumatised by it. Both Auretta Gay and the actor playing the zombie--Ramon Bravo, who was also the shark's trainer--deserved the salaries of every other actor in the film put together.
Otherwise, the film has a really convincing shot of someone's eye getting pierced by a piece of wood, but you're better off watching Un Chien Andalou if you want to see something like that. There's a really ridiculous sequence where a car goes off the road after hitting a zombie and Peter, sitting in the rear passenger seat, somehow breaks his ankle when the car gently butts up against a tree. It's like the man's ankle burst in a nervous reaction or something. There are a few scenes of dopey, standard zombie fight choreography where characters inexplicably back into the slow moving corpses that come from nowhere and women, of course, can't seem to handle guns and tend to freeze up when faced with reanimated dead. Which makes it all the more remarkable that Auretta Gay is so dynamic in that underwater sequence--nothing else in the film equals it.