Sunday, 21 June 2009

For The War Horse ... Nick Nicholson

Recently Ballistic Blood Bullets brother of bravado Nick Nicholson was rushed to hospital following a heart attack. Not good at all. But Nick is a tough guy of old school biblical proportions, and even the thought of sharing a weed pot noodle with the big man upstairs isn't enough to take this mighty War Horse from the 'Pino pastures of God's green Earth.

Wishing Nick all the very best for a speedy full recovery, and as a well intentioned gesture of mirth injection the following review brings about a wry smile. Forget the thumb spinning anal jockeys who have thrown diuretic drivel at this slam bang bodacious Zombie flick, here's my spin from a while back when the oh so very welcome Shriek Show DVD came out.

This One's For You Nick

Zombie 4 : After Death
Armed with a type writer he is a delirious joy, but loaded up with the duties of a Director Claudio Fragasso is downright frenzied. Even at the end of the Italian Zombie cycle cheerful Fragasso peddled his wares to a Production crew, already bewildered by the ‘B’ movie making might of cohort Bruno Mattei, and pulled off the most ham fisted , low budgeted, reel of dumfounding Zombie nonsense that makes Zombie 3 seem like a classic.
The story is simplistically derivative as a well meaning scientist searches for a cure for cancer. Along with his wife and six year old daughter he sets up a lab on a remote Filipino island, but in offering a remedy he unwittingly brings about the death of a young girl who just happens to be the daughter of the resident voodoo priest. Soon the doorway to hell is opened and the dead rise up to take vengeance upon the doctor and his family. They flee for their lives with the spritely undead in pursuit as clearly aided by the genes of Carl Lewis.
These living dead could relay for Team America at the next Olympics although their tendency to spew green bile may not sit well with the impartial Judges. With the Zombies closing in for the kill the doctor and his wife stem the charge, sending their little girl running off all alone, comforted only by a strange medallion dangling around her neck.

Twenty years later an outboard motored boat with a cargo of thrill seekers made up from ex-military types is mysteriously pulled in by the current of the very same island. The draw is accompanied by the drone of the wailing dead, competing for audio dominance with the brash disco sound from composer Al Festa. The gaggle of friends we later learn includes the returning doctors daughter, now grown into womanhood as portrayed by the attractive Candice Daly.

The arrival of an intrepid trio of explorers to the mainland island at the same time, seeking out the Book Of The Dead , leads to the re-emergence of the rotting dead as a passage is read to invoke them. Having discovered the tome, which conveniently has the words Book Of The Dead boldly emblazoned on the front dust cover for just such idiots to happen on, the lead male and Fay Wray wannabe female colleague are soon sharing their body parts with the gums of the risen dead in bloody fashion. Centre stage is then taken by clean cut hero Jeff Stryker, who rather ironically gained infamy as a gay hard core porn star. Clearly his thespian skin apprenticeship stood him in good favour as after helping raise the dead he then proves to be a dab hand at handling the stiffs !.
It isn’t too long before Stryker comes across the other party, who are just discovering the island has a strangely aggressive indigenous people with a rather flaky line in facial makeup and skin care. Introductions are unnecessary as Stryker knows how to handle himself and soon shows them the only way to deal with the welcoming committee, with a swift bullet to the Zombie cranial region.
Holed up in a dilapidated shack with makeshift barricade the living and breathing survivors, naturally having discovered a stored cache of weapons, take on the Zombies in a fun fighting highlight. Enshrouded with billowing fog they take on casualties which before too long leads to members of their friends coming back from the dead for an entre all their own, complete with undead speaking roles !.

The release to home video DVD format is a very welcome one for this truly inept but insanely amusing yet silly Zombie entry. As well as the joyous delights of such a wonderfully bumbling outing is the bonus material of star interviews and a particularly enjoyable discussion with Director Clyde Anderson aka Mr. Claudio Fragasso. His very insightful sharing of the fact that the movie was made for only one hundred thousand dollars is not surprising, but the fact that he pretty much shot the entire movie at night following his daytime duties on the set for Director Bruno Mattei’s Action romp Strike Commando 2 is truly amazing.

To finance the Bruno Mattei outing with stars Richard Harris and Brent Huff good old Claudio finished daytime duties and then purloined the very same camera, along with some of the crew to serve up his own picture to offload for the same Producers. This bodacious initiative ingeniously offset expenses by reaping back expenditure via the European market. Amusingly enough Action hero lead Brent Huff actually called his girlfriend of the time to the set for more than just companionship as actress Candice Daly was also recommended to Fragasso as his female lead for Zombie 4. Look out too for regular Filipino stalwart support star Nick Nicholson as Rod. A bearded badass who chews up the jungle scenery and dumps dialogue for a turn of expressive Action beyond wasteful words.

This really is a great package for all the ‘B’ movie, Zombie fun loving fans of Eighties Italian shlock, and if, as intimated by Fragasso, all the excessive gore had remained intact may well have actually been even more so !.

With all the classic Zombie moments from previous outings cram packed into the closing scenes the ending is set up for Stryker and Daly to save the day and plug that hell hole with the talisman adorning her neck. Rescuing the world from the Book Of The Dead proves to be more ludicrously entertaining than Bruce Campbell taking on the deadites. However, imbued with the writing blither of Fragasso even he audaciously saves a hybrid penned page torn from many a Lucio Fulci finale. Bloody in places and bloody funny in others you have to admire the audacious tomfoolery brought forth from the table of Claudio Fragasso, just keep the napkin handy to wipe away that smile of ridiculous disbelief.

Review by Paul Cooke / Source U.S NTSC DVD

Zombie 4: After Death (1988)
Director Claudio Fragasso
With Jeff Stryker , Candice Daly, Massimo Vanni,
Jim Gaines & Nick Nicholson


  1. Paul!!! You dawg! Thanks so much for this! Well, I'm so glad to be back amongst the living and that's fo sho!

    I feel so lucky to have friends like you guys! It's kind of funny how after all these years I was able to hook up with Berto and Eric Hahn. My steadfast friend Don Gordon is always by my side in spirit.

    My wife Annie is perhaps the only person who keeps me going. She loves to kick my ass when I get rowdy!

    Thanks again Paul! You can't imagine what this means to me!

  2. This Deputy Dawg wouldn't be much without a Muskie mate to write about now would he. Happy trails Nick, long may Annie keep her caring gun pointed at your rowdy ass my friend :) . Great to hear from you & looking forward to continued banter for some time to come.