Zombi 4 (1982) (aka Panic)

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I suspected this day would come, dear reader. This film poses a very serious question which we may choose to answer or not, one that cuts to the very heart of what we’re doing here at the ISCFC. That question is…”were they short of zombie movies that week?” It’s the first zombie movie we’ve reviewed here that DOESN’T HAVE ANY ZOMBIES IN IT

I’ve got no idea. Originally named “Bakterion”, which is a cool title, also known as “Panic” (appropriate) and “Monster of Blood”, this is listed on IMDB’s alternate titles as Greece (transliterated ISO-LATIN-1 title)- “Zombi 4 – I ekdikisi ton zontanon nekron”, which translates as “Zombi 4: Revenge of the Living Dead”. This sounds like someone, about ten years ago, decided to rename this on IMDB for a laugh, the information got picked up by Wikipedia and now it’s a thing, despite me being unable to find any evidence of its existence under that title. So congratulations, long-ago internet prankster, you tricked me into watching this.

 

A lab accident is the cause of all our woes here, some lab in the UK – simply called, rather wonderfully, “Chemical” – has been dabbling in God’s domain; the serum they gave to a rat made it so mean and strong that it broke out of its cage and disappeared down a drain. At the same time, the chief scientist there, Professor Adams, gets some of the experimental goo all over him and disappears; then, a few minutes later, a hideous mutated figure starts killing people and draining their blood. Or was that the previous zombie movie? Ah, who cares? Anyway, they appear to be trying to hide from us that the scientist and the mutant are the same person, but it’s a little on the obvious side.

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It’s at this point, about five minutes in, that proceedings grind to a halt. We’re introduced to a bunch of old white men with dubbed accents that don’t match their appearances at all, they’re all Government people of various sorts; and then we meet the guy who’s being dispatched to solve the problem, an American agent called…Captain Kirk. Yes, one of the ten or so most famous fictional characters of the 20th century, and they just decided to name one of their characters that – bravo! He’s off to the definitely-not-in-England town, and there he meets Prof Adams’ assistant, Jane Blake, with the blondest perm and the darkest eyebrows, so the two of them…well, the two of them do nothing. Jane sits around and looks worried while Kirk does all the actual stuff, because this is a European 1980s horror movie and women are several steps below plankton in terms of the amount of agency they’re allowed.

 

It feels very shambolic, all the way through, like someone behind the scenes was annoyed they were told to set it in England so did as much as possible to sabotage it. While a load of army guys are driving down the street, the car’s eye view is leafy suburban London, but when it cuts to a shot with actors in it, it’s very clearly a completely different location, somewhere in semi-rural Spain probably (the other listed filming location). The cars and police uniforms sort of look a bit British, but not enough to fool a Brit, and there’s the home of one of the government guys, with a pool and a huge outdoor area for barbecues and loungers; a home which just wouldn’t be in Britain because we don’t have enough summer to warrant it. I mean, okay, this could sound a bit like nitpicking, but it’s so poorly done that you can’t help but notice. It’s not like it would’ve cost extra to fix, even.

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Everyone keeps talking about a virus that’s spreading, and it needing to be contained, but the slight problem there is, there’s no evidence of a virus spreading anywhere. Aside from the infected rat, which shows up in one scene, now of massive size, and then disappears from the movie, the only “infected” person is Professor Adams, and there’s zero evidence of him being able to pass the infection on to anyone else. So they send the army in to “quarantine” the town, and put Plan Q into place, which involved bombing the entire town and pretending it was an accident. I mean, come on! It’s one guy! Did no-one at any point during the making of this piece of garbage go “you know this plan makes absolutely zero sense, right?”

 

I’ve not mentioned the cinema scenes yet. Given they don’t mention timescales, it seems like only a few days has passed since the accident in the lab, but in the intervening time the monster has had time to build himself a little nest in the tunnels just below a cinema – but that’s not the best thing. It’s when he attacks a cinema full of people, the lights go out and for a good minute, the entire screen is black. Not even a few shadows! Although it interrupting the movie-within-a-movie was fortunate, because it was the dullest-looking thing I’ve ever seen, just a car pulling away, seen from the back, with some jaunty music playing. No people, no dialogue.

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There’s a moment, about an hour in, where I sort of liked it. The escalating panic, the sense that no-one knew what was going on, but then it got stupid again really quickly. Was it the group of people who tried to charge a heavily armed army cordon? Or the way the Government guy didn’t think to evacuate his family before the cordon fell, even though he knew it was coming? Is it wondering what plans A-P were?

 

It commits the worst crime a movie can, which is to be boring. The acting’s bad, but that’s to be expected in the Italian-made 70s / 80s end of things. I almost admire the chutzpah of whoever called this “Zombi 4”, if indeed it was ever called that, but I wish they’d imparted some of that chutzpah to the writer or director. Director Tonino Ricci is called “maybe the worst genre director in Italy” by several other reviewers, and I won’t correct them. Even though it’s free, avoid – unless you’re on some pointless mission to review every movie in an ill-defined “series”.

 

Rating: thumbs down

 

PS – the bit right at the end of the credits was funny, though.

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