The Best Horror Movie Kills of All-Time: #5 – ZOMBIE (1979)

We’ve entered the Top 5! Repeat! Top 5, I am inside you!

Whoops, didn’t mean it that way (or did I? *ha-wink*)

On an editorial side note, it occurred to me right around entry #10 that this countdown will conclude with my 100th post on this blog, which is totally cool and totally unplanned. It’s as if there was divine intervention from the horror gods.

Ok, today I have a nasty little scene that is sure to elicit a physical reaction no matter who you are. At #5, I present Lucio Fulci’s Zombie (aka Zombi 2).

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I can recall seeing this film for the first time several years ago and not being impressed overall, aside from the scene I’m talking about today and one scene in which an underwater zombie fights a shark. So, if that sounds like your cup o’ tea then I’d recommend the film.

The basic premise is simple: a voodoo curse is reanimating corpses on the Caribbean

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island of Matul, unleashing flesh eating zombies. When an abandoned boat shows up in a NYC harbor, the boat owner’s daughter is questioned and she teams up with a newspaper reporter to hire a boat and two guides to investigate the situation on the island.

The scene I’m highlighting only involves one character, Paola (Olga Karlatos), who is one half of a husband and wife duo researching the horrific circumstances on the island. The clip picks up with Paola stuck in a room being besieged by a zombie and there are a couple cinematic elements present in the scene that foreshadow the cringe-worthy demise about to befall her.

First of all, when the zombie begins to push through the wood, Fulci cuts to close-ups of

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the splintered slat boards multiple times. Normally, this fairly non-violent invasion wouldn’t merit so many shots. The zombie breaks through with relative ease, so naturally we have to assume it’s the splintering of the wood that is the point of these shots, and it is undoubtedly an indication of things to come.

And secondly, notice the framing after the zombie’s arm has breached the room. Prior to the start of this clip, Paola is shown in full body angles as she cowers in fear trying to think of ways to keep the intruder out, but now it is mostly Paola’s face that we see. The most telling shot is when the light beams through the hole in the wood and splashes across Paola’s face, primarily on the upper half. In this way the viewer is being forced to focus on her eyes, which vividly portray her fear as well as impending doom.

Paola breathes a sigh of relief after she pushes an end-table in front of the door, which unsurprisingly doesn’t work against a member of the undead. As she exhales, the zombie arm crashes through and grabs her by the hair and begins slowly pulling her towards it.

She tries to pull away (very gingerly, I’d like to add) and then looks up to see her ultimate fate: a sharp piece of splintered wood staring longingly into her eye. And that piece of wood is right where her eye is headed.

Again, minimal effort is put in to deter her from what some might call one of the worst

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deaths they could imagine. The zombie slowly pulls her in, closer and closer, as Fulci’s camera gets more intimate with its subject as well. Horizontal angles cut back and forth between shots of the camera pushing in on the sharp edge of the wood.

Just about the time the scene has reached a fever pitch, the scene goes one step further. Those of us used to standard Hollywood filmmaking would assume the scene would cut away just when the splintered wood is on the cusp of penetrating her eye, but Mr. Fulci has other ideas.

I’m going to let you watch the rest of the scene without my commentary. What pushes

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the scene over the top is its willingness to go one step further and if you haven’t seen it before, I can assure you you’ll flinch one way or another. It’s hard not to have a physical reaction to anything that shows harm coming to your eye, even if it’s not your own.

Ok, that’s all, folks! Enjoy the clip and don’t forget to check back on Thursday for #4 on the list of The Best Horror Movie Kills of All-Time!

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