Category Archives: Uncategorized

“The Silent Wife” by Karin Slaughter— Someone to Love…

Slaughter, Karin. “The Silent Wife: A Novel”, (Will Trent), William Morrow, 2020.

Someone to Love . . .

Amos Lassen

GBI investigator Will Trent is confronted with disturbing information as he investigates the killing of a prisoner during a riot inside a state penitentiary. One of the inmates claims that he had nothing to do with a brutal attack for which he has always been named as the prime suspect. He insists that he was framed by a corrupt law enforcement team that was  led by Jeffrey Tolliver and that the real culprit is still somewhere out there and is a serial killer who has systematically been going after women across the state for years. If Will reopens the investigation and then implicates the dead police officer with a hero’s reputation of wrongdoing, the convict will give him the information GBI needs about the riot murder. 

Just days ago, another young woman was murdered in a state park in northern Georgia. Is it just a fluke, or could there indeed be a serial killer on the loose. Trent examines both crimes and it becomes quite clear that he must solve the cold case in order to find out the truth. However, almost ten years have passed and memories are not as clear as they once were, evidence is no longer available, witnesses are gone  and lies have become truth. Will can’t crack either mystery without the help of the one person he doesn’t want to be involved: his girlfriend, medical examiner Sara Linton who is Jeffrey Tolliver’s widow.  As the past merges with the present, Trent sees that all he values depends upon him solving the case.

Writer Karin Slaughter is able to take the reader to new places with her plot and fine prose. She creates worlds that are very real and characters that are unforgettable. We move back and forth over time and while this is part of her will Trent series, it also stands on its own.

Trent and Linton make the connection to multiple cases from Sara’s past. They must go deeply into each case, search for clues, bring up suppressed emotions, as they try to stop a potential serial murderer.

 

“Malicroix” by Henri Bosco and translated by Joyce Zonana— A Life of Solitude

Bosco, Henri. “Malicroix”, translated by Joyce Zonana, NYRB Classics, 2020.

A Life of Solitude

Amos Lassen

I love reading in the stream of consciousness and am so glad that Henri Bosco’s “Malicroix” (first published in 1946) has finally been translated into English and beautifully so by Joyce Zonana. It is a perfect read for those of us living alone in the age of quarantine. Martial Mégremut is a recluse who lives on the French countryside and shares how he came to a life of solitude. It is his coming-of-age story. Set inthe early nineteenth century, “Malicroix” is widely considered to be Bosco’s (four time Nobel Prize nominee) greatest book. Here he invests a classic coming-of-age story with “a wild, mythic glamour.’

Martial inherits a house on an island in the Rhone, a desolate and untamed region. It was bequeathed to him by his great-uncle who specified in his will that in order to take possession 0f the house, Martial must live there alone for three full months before it becomes his property. The only company he has is a shepherd with whom he bumps heads at first and his dog. The property is surrounded by the Rhone, an active river that seems to always be in threat of flooding and it is bombarded by a very strong battering wind that shakes the house and presents a symphony of sound that is none-too-pleasant. But that is not all—Martial also has to deal with another challenge in order to gain the house as others try to do the same. Under threat, he has to deal with both himself and his inheritance.

Having been a student of philosophy as well as something of a philosopher myself, I felt right at home reading about the relationship between man and nature. The fact that Bosco’s prose is so lyrical is an added bonus. I have always felt that good literature stays with you long after the covers of a book are closed and I find myself going back to reread passages and mull over both Martial’s and my own reactions to what I read here. I cannot stop thinking about “Malicroix”. I am haunted by it. In fact, I feel that Ihave been living with Martial de Mégremut, on the island his great-uncle required he inhabit.

It all begins in mid-November when Martial de Mégremut heads for La Redousse. He has been summoned by Master Dromiols to get what his great-uncle Cornelius de Malicroix has left to him. However, the notary is not at the meeting and Martial waits him for a week on the island threatened by the river with Balandran, his uncle’s servant and the dog Bréquillet.

Dromiols wanted Martial to experience the wildness of the site and the elements because the will stipulates that the young man will inherit it only if he resides there for three months on the island without going out. He expected Martial to flee but is mistaken. Martial is seduced by the Camargue, and will stay and live against the odds .

Martial Mégremut is a young bourgeois orphan who was sheltered by a large family of uncles, aunts and cousins. He grew up hearing terrible stories about his long-absent and mysterious uncle Cornelius who the family had not seen in fifty years and from whom nothing was expected. Nonetheless, Martial developed an adolescent admiration for the uncle who lived alone according to the rules of nature.

Martial begins a life of isolation fighting against silence and its effects on the mind as well as the dangers of nature and the tension of that which is not known. It is this tension that absorbed me so completely.

There are mystical elements to the novel as well as religious symbolism and themes of revenge, the power of spirits, the  influence of nature and romantic feelings. Henri Bosco shows the boredom of nature by writing repetitive and long passages in which very little happens. This is a novel of loneliness, and loneliness and silence are states of mind. There are secrets that are hidden in the prose and the mysticism of the story. Bosco investigates the relationship between environment and mentality through modern gothic themes and I found the house to be metaphorical for the feelings of the heart.

Fittingly,much of the action  seems to take place at night when people come and go, quietly and quickly— they appear suddenly, and disappear suddenly. Martial often follows them through the nature outside. We wonder if he would have been able to live without Balandran who brings Martial his meals and cleans the house. The house is little more than a hut with just a bed, a desk, a chair, a fireplace and a storeroom. No books, or diversions of any kind exist and all Martial has are his own thoughts and Bréquillet, Balandran’s dog. Bosco gives us a sense of place which is unforgettable, something of a cave-like existence in which decisions are to be made and survival is the answer.  

Joyce Zonana’s translation is glorius and slowly paced allowing me to join Martial in his isolation and seclusion (not unlike this isolation from Covid 19). Martial has to overcome his fears just as we must. His strength is tested just as I feel mine is right now. Like him, I find myself reviewing my life trying to understand how I got to where I am (or should have been).

When pursuing post-graduate studies, Joyce Zonana was one of my mentors and I will never forget how she taught me to read as a woman and heightened my enjoyment of feminist texts. I can never read “Frankenstein” or “Jane Eyre” the same way again. Once again, with “Malicroix” she has taught me to read in a new way through her perception of Bosco’s wonderful novel. I can only wonder why it took me so long to read this book.

“Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: How Daring Dreams and Unyielding Friendship Turned One Man’sBlindness into an Extraordinary Vision for Life” by Sanford D. Greenberg— Losing Sight, Finding Purpose

Greenberg, Sanford D. “Hello Darkness, My Old Friend: How Daring Dreams and Unyielding Friendship Turned One Man’sBlindness into an Extraordinary Vision for Life”, Post Hill Press, 2020.

Losing Sight, Finding Purpose

Amos Lassen

Sanford D. Greenberg’s “Hello Darkness, My Old Friend” is the story of a Columbia undergrad from a poor Jewish family who, after losing his eyesight to disease during his junior year, finds “the power to break through the darkness and fulfill his vision for a life of great professional success and distinguished public service.”

In February, 1961, Sandy Greenberg was in a hospital in Detroit and newly blind. Life changed completely for him and his dreams of finishing Columbia University and going on to Harvard Law School seemed very different. He has a big decision to make. He can either stay at his home in Buffalo or he can return to New York, continue his studies and move forward. Sue, his then girlfriend (who he married later) and his friends helped him to decide to move on and chase his dreams. He overcame the odds and built a live of achievement.

Greenberg managed to get a position working for President Lyndon Johnson in the White House and was able to continue his studies at both Harvard an Oxford. He learned under important lawyers and was mentored by David Rockefeller. His own life became full and he was able to enrich the lives of others. His story is the story of the “triumph of the human spirit”.

Greenberg’s own personal and medical setbacks awoke in him the call to help others and he was able to (along with his wife) dedicate himself to bringing about positive changes in the world. His book is an inspiration and a beautiful story.

Let me share some of Greenberg’s accomplishments:

“Blinded at nineteen, Sanford Greenberg finished Columbia (Phi Beta Kappa) and, following a Marshall Scholarship at Oxford, received his M.A. and Ph.D. at Harvard and M.B.A. at Columbia. He was a White House Fellow under Lyndon B. Johnson and later chaired the federal Rural Healthcare Corporation and served on the National Science Board having been appointed by President Clinton. His career as an entrepreneur and investor began when he invented, of necessity, a speech-compression machine for those who need to listen to and absorb large volumes of printed matter. In the decades since, among other initiatives, he created the first database tracking antibiotic resistance globally. A Johns Hopkins University and Medicine Trustee Emeritus, he is chairman of the Board of Governors of its Wilmer Eye Institute. Furthering his lifelong aspiration, he has instituted a prize for research toward ending blindness for all mankind. Today he lives in Washington, D.C. with Sue. They have three children and four grandchildren.”

This is a fascinating look at“resilience, determination, achievement and, mostly, of the power of friendship and love.” For those who are facing challenges in life and for those who are not, here is a way to help rise above the negative and impact the world. It is a book for all of us.

With an introduction by Art Garfunkel (Greenberg’s college roommate and friend), a foreword by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and a final word by Margaret Atwood, this will d3finetely be one of my books of the year.

“NEW QUEER VISIONS: SEEING IS BELIEVING”— 5 Short Films

“NEW QUEER VISIONS: SEEING IS BELIEVING”

5 Short Films

Amos Lassen

Dealing with such themes as men hiding their true love and feelings, a mother turns a blind eye to her son’s identity, and religion dictating that a man may only lie with a woman, we realize that everything we see is not what it seems to be?  The latest release from New Queer Visions takes a look at representations of boys and men, how desires are hidden from those around them, and how self-belief conquers doubt. The films included are:

.“ADULT” from Australia and directed by Jamieson Pearce is about a woman who is tormented by a loss she enabled enters an adult store in search of redemption. The film is adapted from a short story by Christos Tsiolkas.

“HELLO STRANGER” (“DAG VREEMDE MAN”) directed by Anthony Schatteman is from Belgium. We meet
​ Arthur, a single dad who is struggling with taking care of his seven-year-old son Max and his secret life as a drag queen.

“LITTLE POTATO” from the United States is directed by  Wes Hurley and Nathan M. Miller. It is Wes Hurley’s autobiographical tale about growing up gay in Soviet Union Russia, only to escape with his mother, a mail order bride, to Seattle to face a whole new oppression under his new Christian fundamentalist American dad.

“JUAN GABRIEL IS DEAD” (“Se murió Juan Gabriel”) from Mexico is directed by Tavo Ruiz is the story of the day that famous Mexican singer Juan Gabriel dies and  best friends Beto and Daniel redefine their friendship. Daniel imagines how his day would be if he were a girl. Maybe this way his feelings toward Beto would be seen as normal…

“LE CONVIVE” directed by Hakim Mastour from Tunisia / Switzerland is the story of Malik who has been living with Fouad for three years. Malik is going to marry Halima. Since Fouad doesn’t accept this marriage, which would imply a total upheaval of their everyday life, Malik makes him promise not to attend the wedding, which will take place in his parents’ village. As the ceremony approaches, the pressure builds. Will Malik choose to save face in front of his family and the wedding guests or will he choose to save the relationship with the one he loves?

 

“The Eyes of the Queen: A Novel” by Oliver Clements— The Beginning

Clements, Oliver. “The Eyes of the Queen: A Novel (1)”,  (An Agents of the Crown Novel), Atria/Leopoldo & Co,, 2020.

The Beginning

Amos Lassen

Oliver Clement’s “The Eyes of the Queen” is  his first novel of the Agents of the Crown series in which a man who will become the original MI6 agent protects England and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I from Spain’s nefarious plan to crush the Age of the Enlightenment. Here is a new look at history that is both a fun read and one that keeps you on the edge of your seat as you turn pages as quickly as possible.

Europe has finally emerged into the Age of Enlightenment after centuries of poverty, persecution, and barbarity. Scientists, philosophers, scholars, and poets alike believe that new era of reason and hope for  and the  threat exists for all who dare to defy Catholic orthodoxy. There is only Britain who can fight this and Queen Elizabeth I knows that this is not a war that can be won by just the forces of war.

After Britain loses half of her military force and the treasury is almost empty, the Queen needs a new kind of weapon and the knowledge and secrecy necessary to win this. It is then that Her Majesty’s Secret Service is born and John Dee is its leader. Dee is charismatic and a scholar, a soldier, and an alchemist who is loyal only to the truth and to his Queen. Even though she is the woman he’s forbidden from loving, he is prepared to risk his life for her and for Britain.

I love historical fiction and I love thrillers. We get both in one book here and it swept me away. The prose is clean, the characterization is very real and the details are exceptional. Add to that there will be more in the series coming and we have a whole series to look forward to. You will have to wait until October to read this but it is worth the wait.

“GUTTERBEE”— Sausages and Friendship

“GUTTERBEE”

Sausages and Friendship

Amos Lassen

“Gutterbee” is a character driven comedy about sausages and friendship. Set in small-town America, two hopeless dreamers who join forces to build the ultimate German sausage restaurant. Gutterbee is also a social satire about the connection between identity, religion, racism homophobia and intolerance.

Director Urich Thomsen uses comedy to make fun of everything that we should hate and fight against. Edward (Ewen Bremner) is a German newcomer to the failing town of Gutterbee. He is obsessed with sausage because of what it means to his family history. Not long after arriving, self-made cabaret impresario and ultra-conservative villain Jimmy Jerry Lee Jones Jr. (W. Earl Brown) who is desperate to “make Gutterbee great again” targets him. Just-released prisoner and Jones’ former employee Mike Dankworth McCoid (Antony Starr) is caught in the middle.

The film moves between tones and changes focus among the cast of characters. Edward is its strongest asset as an eccentric sausage zealot and his presence is missed whenever the spotlight is on something or someone else. There is a definite distinct filmmaking style and pointed political satire about right-wing America and fear of the other. The film has a soulful, idiosyncratic personality. It is a look at what life in small town, rural America looks like from an international perspective. It also shows us how to find a way to build an  inclusive existence without forgetting who we are and  is better than where we came from.

The message comes to us from the two dreamers who set out to open the “ultimate German Sausage restaurant: The Gourmet House of Refuge”— Mike Dankworth McCoid is a good-hearted guy who has just been granted a prison release and Edward Hofler, a German sausage zealot. The two complement and play off one another.

 The film opens with a simple black and white title frame from which director Thomsen immediately begins exposing the dark aspects of rural life and culture of the Americana landscape with a voice-over narrative of the town sheriff, played by Chance Kelly. He reveals current topics of discussion including gender conversion therapy, greed disguised in the form of wealth gospel preachers, racism, xenophobia, bestiality, superstitions, and bullying, and how these behaviors continue thrive.

“Gutterbee” is a brilliantly executed film with a message of hope revealed amid the human condition of rural Americans. “It’s mad. It’s scathing. It’s scorching and searing” and just when we are not ready, we are hit by an emotional sucker punch that numbs us. The film will offend many, Thomsen shows how ridiculous and dangerous these people are and he does so with  a wicked sense-of-humor and an “underlying hint of menace”. We are both entertained and challenged.

“Shut Up You’re Pretty” by Tea Mutonji— A Short Story Collection

Mutonji, Tea, “Shut Up You’re Pretty”, Arsenal Pulp, 2019.

A Short Story Collection

Amos Lassen

In Téa Mutonji’s story collection, “Shut Up You’re Pretty”,  “a woman contemplates her Congolese traditions during a family wedding, a teenage girl looks for happiness inside a pack of cigarettes, a mother reconnects with her daughter through their shared interest in fish, and a young woman decides on shaving her head in the waiting room of an abortion clinic.”

The stories bring together desire and choice as they explore the narrator’s experience as involuntary. With pathos and humor, the stories examine the moments in which femininity, womanness, and identity are not only questioned but also enforced. Each woman is on a journey to find out who she is and what kind of love she deserves. Taken as a whole, the collection becomes a microcosm of how messiness can hinder the process of a woman becoming something more than a source of sexual pleasure or a worker for her mate.

At the center of the stories we find girlhood, womanhood and femininity. The women explore sexual expressions, friendships, romantic entanglements, complex familial ties and the power of being a woman as well as the reality of existing in a society that imposes certain expectations on their gender. We read of unsafe situations, relationships that are one-sided or that are established only as a means to an end. We see how much or little woman values herself and we want to see healing and reconciliation.  

The stories tie together and the characters we meet are all important in their own way. Mutonji’s prose is beautiful and gets and carries our attention throughout.  The content of this book can be hard to stomach at times and makes the reader consider the implications and issues that are raised.

I was uncomfortable with some of what I read here but I think that was meant to be. My own preconceptions and prejudices were exposed to me as I read. I was tempted to judge the choices of the narrator and some of the characters but that is a sign of good literature. It pulled me in. This is a heavy read written in light prose.

“The Book of M” by Peng Shepherd— “The Essential Pandemic Novel”

Shepherd, Peng, “The Book of M”, William Peng, 2018.

“The Essential Pandemic Novel”

Amos Lassen

“The Book of M” by Peng Shepherd is “a haunting, thought-provoking, and beautiful novel that explores fundamental questions of memory, connection, and what it means to be human in a world turned upside down.” I am sure we all recognize this feeling today. The story is set in the near future and is the story of a

 group of ordinary people who are trapped in an extraordinary catastrophe. They risk everything to save the ones they love. We read of the power that memories have not only on the heart, but on the world itself. When a man loses his shadow suddenly, science is unable to explain what happened and the plague spreads and its victims who gain amazing abilities, lose their memories. Ory and his wife Max decide to hide with the hope of escaping what is coming,  the Forgetting but the inevitable happens. Max runs, hoping to spare Ory. But he refuses to let her go and sets out to find her. The are om separate journeys that take them on journeys discovery in this unrecognizable new world that is  filled with bandits, war zones and cults. It seems that everything may come from a strange new force that could hold the cure to save those without shadows.

This is a dystopic future novel filled with textual experimentation as the lives of the characters, who mix emotional heft with sudden, rapid action are mysteriously overtaken. Ory and Max, are at the emotional core of “The Book of M.”

People will soon forget all that they have ever known and become mysterious figures. The book opens with Max losing her shadow after having been in hiding with her partner Ory for two years. Ory is trying to set into motion a system of rules to protect her. Once the two of them are separated, they each go on their way through a strange America. The author’s logic and world-building are apparent and amazing throughout.  The many supporting characters who play into the action and exposition move the story forward. 

This is not the kind of novel I usually read but we are living in very different times; times we never expected to see. It was the first sentence that pulled me in and as I read I began to see the characters as friends and the very strange universe totally captivated me. Their searches for a cure, love, connection, and hope is very, very familiar.

 As the world is collapsing, people start losing their shadows and their memories, a little at a time. We meet characters who have already forgotten everything before “The Forgetting began”. I began to think of how we would act if we had no memories—does reality cease to exist?  The ideas here bring questions to mind—what does humanity mean as we face the unknown? Is hope the way to survival? How far are we willing to go for those we love?

Ory’s and Max’s relationship, separation, continued connection, and journey towards each other are the focus of the novel. This is a character driven novel in which the characters and what they mean to each other is what matters.

“ARE WE LOST FOREVER”— When Love Ends

“ARE WE LOST FOREVER”

When Love Ends

Amos Lassen

Adrian has been newly dumped and he is lost. He wonders if he can win back together Hampus, and/or reconcile with the mistakes he made in their relationship. “Are We Lost Forever” is an intimate separation drama that shows  the pain that comes with the ending of a  relationship. “Are We Lost Forever” begins at the home of the young couple Adrian and Hampus, seconds after they are finished. They have barely managed to get out of bed before they face the new reality that they are no longer together.

Hampus moves out and Adrian left with half a bed, a broken heart and many thoughts especially “where did things go wrong?” The film focuses mainly on Adrian (Björn Elgerd) who for a year tries to get back on his feet. He faces empty nights and one night stands, a lack of sleep and a long healing process. We see screaming confrontations, regretful declarations of love and hot make-up sex during which both Adrian and Hampus (Jonathan Andersson) are forced to re-evaluate their relationship in order to move on and become stronger and wiser.

The film is somewhat stiff and static, most of it takes place indoors and with a handful of actors. David Fardmar, the director / screenwriter has turned his limitations to his advantage. Through simple scenes, the action and emotion to take place in the limelight.

We learn little about the two main characters and after an hour and forty minutes with them, we still know very little about them but at the same time we can relate to every single thing they go through. The film is propelled by the story , a story that most of us are able to identify with. The film is an anti-romantic comedy with a touch of humor and embarrassment and the painful feelings that are the rarely noticed that come with love.

Adrian and Hampus who have been together three years but Hampus feels that the time has come for him to leave. For Adrian, the breakup comes as a shock and he cannot accept that the relationship is over. The film takes place over a year as we follow Adrian and Hampus through their  painfully drawn-out separation with everything that comes with it— crying, anxiety, rebound sex, embarrassing encounters, new look-a-like partners, awkwardness, an uncomfortable couples dinner, an insight into breaking old patterns, and perhaps a streak of hope for reconciliation.

While this is classified as a gay film, the conflicts here are not about sexuality. The main conflict is a separation where two broken hearts try to recover and hopefully heal after a heartbreaking year— two ordinary people facing the end of love.

When Adrian and Hampus get to the point of changing their statuses on Facebook to “single”, they both  realize that they have gone past the point of no return. Over the following year, neither of the men can move on without each other, at first.  When the two finally meet new partners they look like each other, and it makes for a very awkward dinner when the four  get together. What goes on in the story is completely relatable and with that and the excellent performances and use of emotions make this an endearing look at love.

“ZOMBIE”— An Anniversary Re- Release

“ZOMBIE”

An Anniversary Re- Release

Amos Lassen

It’s been nearly 40 years since Lucio Fulci’s “Zombie” was released and it is still one of the best zombie films ever; a sleazy film that’s not to be missed. For the film’s 40th anniversary, we have a new restoration.

“Zombie” is not meant for the squeamish. It begins when the Coast Guard discovers a seemingly abandoned boat in the Atlantic off the coast of New York City with a flesh-eating ghoul on board who kills one of the officers. The owner of the vessel is missing, and his daughter, along with a reporter, set off for the tropical island where he was last seen. What they do not know is that the island is the home of the undead.

There are two famous sequences for which “Zombie” is known. The first is a set piece involving a zombie fighting a shark. It has nothing to do with anything aside from showing insane madness. The second sequence is called “the splinter scene;” and is an incredibly tense moment and one that got the film heavily censored in many countries. It’s shocking, suspenseful, masterfully shot and you will have to see it for yourself.

Director Fulci zooms in on violence and lets us see every bit of brain matter and viscera. Blue Underground has released a new three-disc Blu-ray for the film’s 40th anniversary, which features a 4K restoration from the original, uncut camera negatives. The transfer looks great.

A sailboat sits in the path of seemingly every ship and ferry that tries to cut its way across. Attempts to raise the crew fail. A helicopter circling can’t spot any signs of life. A couple of guys from Harbor Patrol are sent out to take a look and are not prepared for what they found. A bloated corpse comes through a door to eat. A couple shots from a pistol later, the zombie tumbles off the sailboat and sinks into the bay. The immediate threat’s is over, but what was that? This is the question for newspaper reporter Peter West (Ian McCulloch) and the daughter of the ship’s missing owner (Tisa Farrow) who want an answer. Their search for that answer takes them to the Caribbean island of Matul. If it’s some sort of previously unknown disease or a voodoo curse, no one knows for sure, but something makes the dead on Matul rise from their graves to feed on the living. They have already eaten almost everyone on the island.
“Zombie” is a brutal film with the dead slowly feasting on the living, tearing into their bodies to find just the right parts to devour… blood is everywhere. in Zombie that isn’t iconic, really. The opening attack is atmospheric, unnerving, and masterfully crafted. Director Fulci does a hell of a great job introducing his zombies and the harbor sequence makes quite  an impact.

Every scene with the ravenous undead is very special and spectacular, but nothing bridges them together. The skeleton of a story is slim, and Fulci doesn’t infuse the moments in between the flesh feasts. The characters are  thinly sketched and mostly uninvolving, relying on the charms of actors like Ian McCulloch and Richard Johnson, though that only goes so far. 

Blue Underground has put together a spectacularly loaded special edition release, featuring t four hours’ worth of extras, every last second of which is well-worth setting aside the time to see.

Extras

Zombie‘s extras are spread across both of the discs in this set.

Disc One

  • Introduction(30 sec.; HD): When playing Zombie, you have the option to watch it with a very short introduction by the brilliant Guillermo del Toro.

  • Audio Commentary: Perhaps the

  • single greatest extra in this two-disc set is the commentary with star Ian McCulloch. He’s joined here by Diabolikeditor Jason J. Slater, and having someone to help moderate the discussion does come in handy later in the film when the conversation slows down somewhat. McCulloch is a wonderfully engaging speaker, and you would hardly know this is his first time ever seeing Zombie from start to finish (!) with the seemingly endless barrage of stories he has to tell. There are far too many highlights to possibly rattle off here, but among them are an Italian crew invading a newspaper office and being told to fuck off by someone who may or may not have been Rupert Murdoch, a relative in the House of Lords being crushed when learning just how many Video Nasties that McCulloch had starred in, and an amateur diver struggling to stay afloat when weighed down by misconfigured scuba gear. McCulloch does a terrific job painting a picture of what it was like to be a part of a film shoot where everyone was speaking so many different languages and no one could be bothered to get a permit. Easily one of the most infectiously fun commentaries I’ve listened to in a long, long time.

  • Promotional Material(7 min.): This disc also features international and domestic theatrical trailers, two TV ads, and four radio spots. The trailers are presented in high definition, and the TV spots are sourced from lower quality video.

  • Still Gallery(10 min.; HD): A high-res still gallery serves up an extensive selection of poster art, lobby cards, behind-the-scenes and promotional photos, pressbooks, soundtrack artwork, and video releases from all across the globe.

Disc Two

  • Zombie Wasteland(22 min.; HD): Actors Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver, and Ottaviano Dell’acqua rang in Zombie‘s thirtieth anniversary with an appearance at the Cinema Wasteland con in Ohio. The first of the disc’s featurettes splices together appearances from their booth at the show, a Q&A panel, and individual interviews. Among the topics of discussion are what it was like to work with someone as

  • passionate and notoriously difficult as Lucio Fulci, the outrageous atmosphere on the set, how grueling the worm-eyed zombie makeup was, and what it means to them to have a fanbase this

  • Flesh Eaters on Film(10 min.; HD): Fabrizio De Angelis approaches Zombie from a producer’s perspective, chatting candidly about the lack of permits, the film’s enormous financial success, selling the movie internationally, and struggling with a lawsuit by Dario Argento over the title. De Angelis also touches on bringing Fulci onboard this already-established project and the over-the-top and almost comic tone he sees in the film.

  • Deadtime Stories(14 min.; HD): Uncredited writer Dardano Sacchetti has a sharper memory about the genesis of Zombie than Fabrizio De Angelis, describing how the germ of an idea was spawned by a Tex Willer comic melding Westerns with the walking dead. “Deadtime Stories” also features co-writer Elisa Briganti, and she and Sacchetti speak about how problematic it was finding a director, how Zombie marked the first true horror film to be helmed by Fulci, and the role Zombie played in bringing Italian horror to the rest of the world.

  • World of the Dead(16 min.; HD): Cinematographer Sergio Salvati and costume/production designer Walter Patriarca discuss shaping the look of Zombie, including the use of lighting to exaggerate the horror of the zombies’ makeup, deliberately keeping some elements of the frame out-of-focus, filming the eye-gouging sequence with three cameras, ramming a bulldozer into a lovingly crafted church set that looked a bit too beautiful, and spelling out just how many of the film’s most memorable shots were stolen. Patriarca shows off some of his original conceptual artwork, and it’s impressive to see how closely the hospital in the film mirrors his art.

  • Zombi Italiano(17 min.; HD): Makeup effects artists Giannetto de Rossi, Maurizio Trani, and Gino de Rossi delve into creating the look of Zombie‘s legions of the undead, making them look more like ancient, decaying corpses than the freshly-dead blue zombies in Dawn of the Dead. All of the most memorable

  • attacks in the film are discussed in detail, including the process of tracking down a live shark and gouging the eye of an incomplete head.

  • Notes on a Headstone(7 min.; HD): Composer Fabio Frizzi speaks briefly about his collaborations with Lucio Fulci. Frizzi tends to speak in somewhat general terms, but he does have a few intriguing comments about his music for Zombie, such as the restraint shown in the spectacular sequence in New York Harbor and the use of overlapping sounds throughout the eye-gouging assault sequence.

  • All in the Family(6 min.; HD): Antonella Fulci speaks about her late father, explaining why his movies are so violent and why she believes Zombie in particular continues to endure. Home movies and candid photographs are featured throughout as well.

  • Zombie Lover(10 min.; HD): Finally, Guillermo del Toro dissects Zombie and details why he feels it’s such a brilliant film. This ten minute conversation approaches Zombie from both an intensely personal perspective and that of a director with an encyclopediac knowledge of the genre, and it’s well-worth taking the time to watch.