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ZOMBIE
By STEPHEN ROMANO, MICHAEL BROOM, DEREK ROOK, GERRY COFFEY (Blackest Heart Media; 2000)

This graphic novel adaptation of Lucio Fulci’s iconic 1979 film ZOMBIE follows THE BEYOND, a previous graphic novel rendering of a Fulci classic by scripter Stephen Romano and publisher Blackest Heart Media--and the results, thankfully, are far stronger. In his introduction to the present volume Romano admits THE BEYOND graphic novel wasn’t all he hoped it would be, and so stepped up his game for ZOMBIE.

     The inception for this book was apparently a script Romano wrote for a remake of ZOMBIE that (thankfully) never came to pass. Many of the concepts introduced in the script, Romano claims, made their way into this graphic novel, including a voodoo shaman character who corrals a band of maggot-ridden zombies on the island of Matool in the Antilles.

     The madness begins when a seemingly deserted schooner appears in the New York harbor. When investigated the boat turns out to contain ravenous zombies that quickly migrate to the mainland, kicking off a mini-zombie epidemic. In the meantime the hot lawyer Ann, who “sorta reminds (the protagonist) of Mia Farrow” (an in-joke, as Mia’s sister Tisa Farrow headlines the movie), investigates the disappearance of her father, a doctor who was drawn to Matool as part of an “intensive anthropological experiment.”

     Ann travels with her boyfriend, the tabloid writer Peter, to Matool, where the gory fun begins in earnest. The film’s famous eyeball poke is replicated here in reasonably effective multi-panel form, as is the nearly-as-famous zombie-shark fight and climactic throat ripping, in addition to a plethora of bloody gunshot wounds, flesh ripping, intestine eating and plugs for Old Crow Bourbon (a favorite of this book’s publisher Shawn Smith Lewis).

     The whole thing is impressively visualized by artist Michael Broom in dense, Bernie Wrightson-esque black and white illustrations that go well with verbiage like “His song was a shrill and brutal gouging of the mind, something not heard by the ears…but felt deep in a way I can’t explain beyond the hopeless dread of a pain-wracked nightmare.” This book, in short, delivers exactly the sort of pulpy gorehound thrills you might expect. My only complaint is that it isn’t in color (although I understand Romano and Broom are gearing up to release a full-color version).

     The package is rounded out with a six page illustrated story inspired by Fulci’s CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, a.k.a. THE GATES OF HELL, which attempts to explain that film’s incomprehensible narrative, and a short piece called “Freudstein,” based on Fulci’s THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY. Plus, as with the BEYOND graphic novel, a soundtrack cd, remastered by Romano himself, is included, although good luck finding one in any of the (too-few) second-hand copies of ZOMBIE currently in circulation.

     

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