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RETURN OF THE ZOMBIES - Skull
Rated R
Copyright 1973
Reviewed by Rob on 'a long time ago'

The Characters:  

  • Sergio Chekov - Arrogant young man who is the heir of his uncle count's castle in Italy.
  • The Inspector - Inspects a number of crimes across Chekov's castle, suspecting Chekov most of the time. He's wrong, of course.
  • Doris - Whiny young girl who is the daughter of a mad scientist.
  • Igor - Creepy gravedigger who enjoys having sex with dead people more than with the living. Gets zombified and later decapitated.
  • Ivan - Asshole who has a fetish for his switchblade. Gets zombified and later cremated.
  • The Count - Chekov's dead uncle who comes back as a zombie. Kills his daughter, then later gets cremated.
  • The Zombies - Reanimated corpses who kill for apparently no reason at all (they don't even eat people).


The Plot: 

My apologies for not knowing the rest of the characters' names or for being accurate on the time frames at the bottom of this page, but this movie completely sucked ass. No, I didn't spell the title wrong - that's how they spell "zombi" in Italy and other places. Anyway, I had gone to a video store wanting to rent "Zombie," which is also an Italian zombie film and is supposedly meant to be the prequel to George A. Romero's immortal masterpiece "Dawn of the Dead." Instead, this movie was in the case when I got home. God, this movie was incredibly bad. Anyway, this guy (I think he's Russian) inherits his dead Italian uncle's castle. He comes to Italy to find a girl hanging from a tree outside a graveyard and later discovers that the girl is the stepdaughter of the daughter of his deceased uncle (or something like that). The castle comes complete with two beautiful women who like to romp around naked and a mad scientist who works with reanimating dead neurons. One by one, murders begin to take place all over the castle, and the blame is put on Chekov, the new owner. As time goes on, they discover that the murders are being made by (gasp!) zombies which are the result of the mad scientist's experiments. For some odd reason, the zombies decide to stop following their master's orders, however, and begin killing indiscriminately. Well hey, these dead heads would get along just fine with Dahmer, Gasey, and Bundy - and these three can take the damn movie to Hell with them! In the end, good triumphs, and the zombies are burned to ashes along with their creator. I'm still pissed that I had to watch this wretched piece of shit over "Zombie."

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Italian zombies don't eat people.
  • Italian zombies know how to drive a carriage.
  • Nothing spoils the romantic mood like occult objects in a woman's room.
  • Maggots eating away at a corpse's eyes resemble cheddar cheese (I hope that you weren't eating while reading this one).
  • Nude undead girls aren't very appealing (except maybe to necrophiliacs).
  • Attach electrodes to a dead frog's hind legs and cool things will happen.
  • If you want to stay alive in Italy, stay out of the cemeteries.
  • Autopsies aren't very bloody at all.
  • Laboratory animals such as frogs and mice are kept in confining jars next to eyeballs, brains, etc.
  • Native Italians and Russians can all speak flawless English - and with a British accent.
  • Cadaver innards look like cheese on pizza.
  • Castles conveniently have catacombs beneath them which lead to nearby cemeteries.
  • Don't fall in love with a necrophiliac.
  • One lantern can set an entire tomb and the expansive catacombs beneath it on fire.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 2 mins - I have a bad feeling about this movie already.
  • 5 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A DEAD GIRL'S TORSO!
  • 10 mins - RANDOM GRATUITOUS BREAST SHOT!
  • 20 mins - ANOTHER RANDOM GRATUITOUS BREAST SHOT!
  • 30 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A MEGALOMANIAC ASSHOLE!
  • 40 mins - They are eventually going to show ZOMBIES in "Return of the Zombies," aren't they?
  • 70 mins - What the hell just happened? Did he burn those two zombies with the lantern? Where are the bodies?
  • 80 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A NECROPHILIAC ZOMBIE!
  • 90 mins - Yeah, like we never saw THAT coming.


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Comments:Write CommentPages: [1]
Return of the Zombies
Reply #1. Posted on August 30, 2000, 08:08:48 PM by Warren H.
I liked this movie.  Of course, I rented it under the title, "The Hanging Woman." So I wasn't expecting zombies to show up.  I thought the scenery was beautiful and the photography was excellent, even on the poor print I saw.  The plot was involving, although I figured it out right away, I still enjoyed watching the bumbling characters try to get it.  The zombie element seems like a last minute addition to what might have been an otherwise decent murder mystery.  I guess the producer walked onto the set one day and announced, "Those zombie movies are doing well lately, we're going to add some zombies to this movie."  That would explain the totally illogical nature of the zombies (they obey the professor because of a capsule that receives his thoughts, then they don't, then the prof. comes back as a zombie, huh?) and the tossed together, rushed nature of the last third of the film.  If you don't mind films that take their time to hit stride, you might enjoy this little hidden gem.
Return of the Zombies
Reply #2. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by maybrick
Return of the Zombies is NOT Italian! It's Spanish! If you're going to hold the country of origin at fault, at least know where to put the blame.

It's not really that bad of a movie (although admittedly not that good, either). If you're looking for a gore-filled zombie epic, you have to realize that those didn't get big until Dawn of the Dead was released six years later. This is more in the vein of a Hammer film than Romero or Fulci. I think it's definitely worth a rental.
Return of the Zombies
Reply #3. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:03 PM by madmanmarz
your review is off base. Its a spanish film. Paul Naschy very famous spanish horror movie star is in it. To top it off , this was a more gothic as the other guy said Hammer type film, than a Fulci, Lenzi or Deodato.
Good film too
Return of the Zombies
Reply #4. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Rob
Okay, I f**ked up - this movie was made in Spain.  I apologize to all who have read this review.  I only assumed that this movie was made in Italy because Italy is known for making what, five hundred zombie films?  Unfortunately, when we assume something, we only make an ASS out of U and ME.  Actually, there were a few good ones made in Italy or by Italian directors, such as "Cemetery Man" and "Zombie."
I did not, however, write this critique to blame the country in which this movie was filmed.  I am not putting blame on the Spaniards or the Italians.  Whether this movie was made in Spain, Italy, Germany, the USA, Singapore - the point I wanted to get across was HOW BAD THIS MOVIE SUCKED!
Return of the Zombies
Reply #5. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Bandit Chris
I just bought this movie today and just finished viewing it...and, well...what can I say its not THAT bad (meaning it does have some zombies in it (about 5 or 6 of them)and they make that sound that all Italian zombies make (that low grunting breathing sound), there is SOME gore, although more would have made the film much better than it really is dcapitation of a zombified Paul Naschy and a autopsy scene where some inards are removed in loving close-up).
One thing I realized from watching "Return of the Zombies" is that this movie is a total rip-off of Jorge Grau's 1972 film "Living Dead at Manchester Morgue"!...reason being:

1. This film takes place in a European country side community
2. Involves a man made device/action which is the cause for the zombies to rise in the first place
3. Both films are slow paced and aptmosphere oriented and the heavy zombie action doesnt pick up untill the last half onwards
4. The Zombies are killed by setting them on fire with lanterns/torches/etc. (same as in Grau's film
5. Even some of the zombies look similar to those in Grau's film (especially the cloth wrapped one with wrap on his head)

There is also a seance scene which is similar to many other seance scenes in later Euro/horror/gore films such as Fulci's "THE GATES OF HELL","DEMONIA" and "SWEET HOUSE OF HORRORS" also in Naschy's other zombie film "HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB".

But where Grau succeeded in making a superior zombie film (one in which DOES incorporate nasty flesh eating gore and violence in its running time, nasty enough to get the film banned in the early 80's as a "Video Nasty"), J.L Marino's ROTZ fails by being a little light weight in the necessary ingredients needed for good zombie  cinema.
Return of the Zombies
Reply #6. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Rob (response to Bandit Chris)
You're right.  This movie isn't that bad.  It's much, much worse.
Return of the Zombies
Reply #7. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Rob (to Kolten)
Hey, man.  Sorry it took me a while to respond.  I see you endured the same thing I did when you expected a Lucio Fulci film.  But I have to warn you, "Zombi 3" is nothing special.  I bought it some time later after having bought "Zombie" (titled "Zombi 2" in Italy).  I thought it might live up to its predecessor, but no such luck.  It is, however, fun to make fun of.  If anything, it's better than "Return of the Zombies."
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