Zombi VIII: Urban Decay (2021) Review

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Zombi VIII: Urban Decay begins with eight minutes’ worth of stock footage of a voodoo ceremony followed by four minutes’ worth of credits. Which means we’re twelve minutes in before the film actually begins. Since it only runs an hour and ten minutes with ten minutes worth of end credits that doesn’t leave much time for the actual film. That, however, might be a good thing.

Hannah (Jennifer Nangle, For Jennifer, Irrational Fear) wakes up and takes a rather chaste shower before checking her email. It’s good news, her missing father has been located. The bad news, he’s on the island of Matool. If you’ve seen Lucio Fulci’s film Zombie you’ll recognize the name, if not you’ll soon learn it’s an island in the Caribbean that suffers under a voodoo curse.

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Along with Tom (Erik Anthony Russo, Axed to Pieces, Axegrinder 2) and Tim (Ronnie Angel, Runaway Nightmare, Tales for the Campfire 3) she flies down to Matool, where despite being in the Caribbean it looks like California, right down to the plates on the cars. They hike through the wilderness teaming with stock footage of jungle animals and eventually find Hanna’s father (Noel Jason Scott, Blade the Iron Cross, Slice & Dice) who was the Patient Zero of the original zombie outbreak. Now they just need to get him back to the USA.

Zombi VIII: Urban Decay is described as a direct follow-up to Fulci’s film and the Lucio Fulci/Claudio Fragasso sequel Zombi 3. And the first half certainly has those films’ utter disregard for logic. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the gore to take our minds off that fact. And it only gets more ridiculous from there. Somehow they manage to bring a bloody, flesh-eating zombie back on a plane and nobody notices either his appearance, appetite or lack of a passport. Needless to say, he eventually gets loose and starts a second zombie outbreak.

I will give Zombi VIII: Urban Decay credit for having more of a plot than Apex Predators, the last film I saw from writer/director Dustin Ferguson who hides behind his “Dark Infinity” alias here. But that’s not saying a lot. By the time you take out the credits, stock footage and scenes that are just there to give someone a cameo there’s very little zombie action.

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All the characters from the first half of Zombi VIII: Urban Decay vanish in the second half. Instead, we get some TV news folk talking about what’s going on and a phone call between Governor Hadley (Mel Novak, An Hour to Kill, Tales of Frankenstein) and Dr. Mattei (Eric Larsen, Serena Waits) about a cover-up to fill time between zombie footage.

None of it makes any sense or relates to what’s already happened. Nor is anything resolved by the film’s end. I suppose that will happen in an eventual sequel. Hopefully, they put a bit more effort into it than they did here. Ferguson showed considerable improvement in some of his recent films, but Zombi VIII: Urban Decay is a step back.

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Noel Jason Scott did his own zombie makeup, and it’s quite good, but we don’t see it until the film’s second half. That’s also where what gore the film has turned up. It’s more than we usually get in one of Ferguson’s films, but it’s far from impressive. Surely if you’re going to follow up on one of the best-known gore films of the 80s you don’t want to skimp on the effects?

I will give some praise to Oscar Fogelström (Aurora, Abomination) whose score does a good job of channelling Fabio Frizzi’s music from Zombie and similar films. It’s available to stream from Deezer, YouTube Music and Spotify among other services.

Zombi VIII: Urban Decay is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Retrosploitation Releasing and to stream via their Vimeo Channel. You can get more details on their Facebook page.

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