Thursday, October 28, 2021

Looking for Something Spooky to Read this Halloween?

Hello, Boils and Ghouls. Long time, no read. So, about five years ago, I decided to try my hand at writing some fiction again, hoping to get published in an anthology of Ghost Stories whose theme revolved around hauntings near water. And, well, I really threw myself into it -- like, really, really into it and wound up with something way too long to meet the submission requirements. Thus and so, with something way too long for a short story and way too short for anything else, I kinda sat on this piece, unsure what to do with it, but have finally decided to just publish it online myself. And so, for your reading pleasure, I give you, One In, One Out, which turned out less a spooky ghost story and more of a slow-burn creature feature instead. And lets call it an R-Rated story for some dicey language and a few adult themes for those not into such things. Beyond that, please do enjoy this morbid tale of a trip to the lake that goes >slightly< awry that you can read right here. Thanks.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

We Live ... Again. Well, Sort Of.

And so, our film journey begins anew at our new site, Confirmed Alan_01, where we finally try to herd all of my old film reviews, scattered all over the web these past 20 years, into one central location, add some spit and polish, and then republish them. Because, yes, I am THAT anal. So, yeah, mostly old stuff -- from the myriad blogs, the old website, even an old newspaper column. Some completely overhauled, most are expanded, and a few aborted reviews that never quite got finished. And, if I ever get the urge, there might even be a few brand new reviews showing up now and again.

The Rehashed Reviews thus far:

The Amazing Colossal Man (1957)

Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961)

Roy Colt and Winchester Jack (1970) 

Beyond the Doors (1984) 

Roustabout (1964) 

So Evil, So Young (1961) 

Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988) 

So, Boils and Ghouls, come and give a read, won't you? Thank you. 

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Hubrisween 2020 :: Z is for Zombie 5: Killing Birds (1987)

Since this movie fails most epically to make this even remotely clear, whose confusion is compounded even further by the anachronistic model of semi slowly rolling toward us on a lonely stretch of road, I will clue you all in that we’re supposed to be back in 1965 as a hitchhiking Vietnam veteran, still dressed in his fatigues, hops out of the rig and makes his way into the surrounding bayou on foot. 

Mustered out and returning home, we see by his insignia that this man was a Lieutenant in the 101st Airborne Division, whose mascot is a Screaming Eagle, which seems appropriate when he reaches his palatial home and we see half of it has been dedicated to an aviary filled with all manner of different species of birds -- both foreign and domestic.

And while the soundtrack is needling toward the ominous as the soldier reaches into his duffel-bag, he only pulls out a small wrapped present. And as we once again struggle to read the scene properly, I believe we are to presume this is a surprise homecoming visit and the present was meant for the man’s wife -- whom he finds in their bed, sound asleep, cuddled up beside another man like a couple of spoons ... Uh-oh.

None too happy about this turn of events, in a fit of rage, the veteran pulls out his combat knife and slices the other man’s throat while he sleeps. He then leaves this bloody mess for his sound-sleeper of a wife to wake up to, who screams and panics, and then tries to call for help -- but he apparently took out the phone lines, too. 

And then her terrible no good very bad day continues when her car won’t start either. Here, the husband finally reveals himself, and then chases her into the aviary and makes with the stabby, stabby, stabby.

But then an older couple shows up with a baby -- again, you will have no clue who these people were supposed to be until the closing credits. Thus and so, I will help out the audience once more, and reveal these folks are the late wife’s parents and the baby is their little boy, whom they had been babysitting and were returning home. 

Well, better make that they were her parents, as the dad gets a knife planted in his skull, and then the mom leads our deranged vet on a merry chase into the woods, where she is finally rundown and gets her throat slit from ear to ear. But the baby is spared for now at least.

Moving back to the house, the man then proceeds to destroy every caged bird that isn’t a raptor. (We’ll assume those were the wife’s.) Now, this proves a tad counterproductive as he continues to clean up the crime scene, when one of the hawks takes all this murder personally, swoops over, and claws one of the man’s eyes out rather gruesomely.

Now, I'm gonna pause here for a little more conjecturing on behalf of the audience. So, see, what I think might've actually happened here, as once again, with this movie, who the hell knows for sure, but, while he was trying to stab his wife, our killer accidentally stabbed and killed one of the raptors when its stand got knocked over. And then later, as he was cleaning up the blood, we zoom in on another raptor, who I think we're supposed to realize is suddenly overcome with a vision or memory of the now dead raptor, and then moved to his avenge its friend or maybe mate. Or something. *sigh* This [expletive deleted] movie.

Anyhoo, cut to a hospital, where the man, now totally blind, has been treated for his wounds and taken into custody; but he’s allowed to say goodbye to his baby boy before being hauled away to jail and the child is surrendered to social services.

Keeping with the theme, what follows next isn’t much of a transition; and so, a chronal alert is probably in order that we are now in the present day -- circa 1987; and according to a handy sign, on the campus of Loyola University, which is located deep in the heart of Louisiana bayou country, where if the heat don't kill ya, the humidity will gladly finish you off. Here, we meet Steven Porter (Watts), an ornithology major, who just got word that his grant was approved, meaning full-funding for an expedition into the wild to try and locate and document the endangered Ivory Billed Woodpecker before the species inevitably goes extinct within the next few years.

And with that, Steve tours the campus to round-up his team for this scientific endeavor, starting with his friend, Paul (Villemaire), a photographer, and his assistant / girlfriend, Mary (Cumming). He then seeks out Rob (Sutterfield), an amateur 8-bit computer animated porn enthusiast, who will use his tech-skills to correlate all the data they gather on his handy portable computer (-- a proto-laptop IBM PC Convertible 5140, which resembles more of an old whang ‘n’ banger typewriter to me), to try and narrow down the search parameters for the elusive bird. And then there’s Jennifer, who is Steve’s assistant and maybe his girlfriend; or she wants to be his girlfriend or, hell, I don’t know.

Also shoehorning her way into this expedition is Anne (Wendel), a reporter for the campus newspaper, who wants to cover Steve’s efforts, thinking it will make a good story. Now, I believe Anne also used to be Steve’s girlfriend -- stress on the “used to be,” who may or may not have fanagled her way onto this trip just to try and hook back up with him. Maybe. Again, movie, a little help here?

Either way, Jennifer always seems to get a little defensively pissy whenever Anne is around. And she almost lucks out when Steve first refuses to allow Anne to join them until the crack newshound reveals how she was able to track down the last three known people to have actually seen a bona fide Ivory Billed Woodpecker in the wild.

Thus, Anne is now in, and then the expedition is rounded out by Brian (Maggiore), a park ranger, who came with the van, and who will serve as their trail guide as they venture deep into the swamps and bayous in search of their rare prey.

But once they hit the road, turns out Anne’s big scoop wasn’t much of a scoop after all because of those three witnesses she located (-- technically, her bullied assistant did the heavy lifting on this), one of them is dead, another now lives in California, and the third, Dr. Fredric Brown, is now blind according to her (assistant's) research.

Now, Anne has a full dossier on Brown’s sketchy history but isn’t too keen on sharing what she knows with the others for … reasons. (If I had to guess, I’d say it has to do with why we never saw the killer’s face in the prologue -- he typed ominously....) Anyhoo, Steve still thinks it might be worth talking to the guy. And when they arrive at his house, Steve tells the others to wait in the van and he’ll go talk to him alone. Not a chance, says Anne, who once more bullies her way into another fact-finding mission with Steve, which really pisses off Jennifer as she gets left behind with a “snooze you lose” smirk from her rival.

Alas, no one appears to be home when they knock, but the door proves unlocked, which is an open invitation for Anne to barge right on in. But as they snoop around the house, it becomes readily apparent that they aren’t alone. Then suddenly, a man startles them from behind. And when they spin around, they are greeted with quite the gruesome sight:

For you see, the reason Dr. Brown (Vaughn) has gone blind was due to some massive eye-trauma. Like, say, oh, I don’t know, a horked-off bird ripped them out of their sockets?

That’s right, Boils and Ghouls; the man they sought was none other than the deranged Vietnam vet who murdered his wife, his wife’s lover, and her parents some 20 years ago. As to why is this man not still in jail for multiple murder? Oh, we’ll be getting to that, believe me. That, and plenty more rock-stupid twists yet to come, which we will effort to unravel when we come right back after the hows and whys. Ergo, insert the standard outro ellipsis right about here...

Now, with all the quantum leaps in plot logic, the failure to properly establish shifts in time, and an overall narrative that seems to be stitched together with vague ideas and the barest of notions, I could understand why a lot of you might think Zombie 5: Killing Birds (1987) was written and directed by our old pal Claudio Fragasso, who, you remember, was partially responsible for Zombie 3 (1988) and who was totally responsible for Zombie 4: After Death (1989), which were technically made after this latest sequel anyway, adding a whole ‘nother layer of confusion to this damnably confounding franchise.

But this one actually wasn’t Fragrasso’s fault -- well, maybe, as he would later claim the general idea for the film was stolen from him and his usual partner in crime, Rossella Drudi. (More on this in a sec.) In fact, no one knows for sure who really did direct Zombie 5, as that dubious honor is currently under dispute between Claudio Lattanzi and another well-known purveyor of crap, Aristide Massaccesi -- better known to the world as one Joe D’Amato, who was responsible for things like Erotic Nights of the Living Dead (1980), Antropophagus (1980), Ator, the Fighting Eagle (1982), and a metric-ton of Emmanuelle (1974) sequels -- some legit, others not so much.

Now, according to most unearthed sources, Zombie 5:Killing Birds officially began life around Christmas of 1986, when Lattanzi wrote up a treatment for a film called Il cancello obsoleto (The Obsolete Gate), which concerned a record producer inviting a rock band to some deserted house, where they would record a new hit album, unaware a squad of Nazi soldiers were also buried there, who rise from the grave and run amok.

Lattanzi was a protege of Michele Soavi, serving as an assistant director on Dario Argento's World of Horror (1985) documentary and the truly mesmerizing StageFright (1987), which had been produced by D’Amato for Filmirage. Filmirage and D’Amato were also interested in producing Lattanzi’s idea, too, which Soavi was initially attached to as a director -- only to back out when he was offered to make another sequel to Demons (1985) for Argento, which eventually morphed into The Church (1989).

From there, things get a little murky. In a later interview, Lattanzi stated at this point D’Amato asked for a complete overhaul on his treatment, and was instructed to remove the rock band and the Nazi zombies and replace them with a scientific expedition and killer birds -- perhaps to cash in on Rene Cardona Jr.’s El ataque de los pájaros (1987), which was released on home video as Beaks: The Movie, where our fine feathered friends go berserk en masse and start attacking people. He complied, changing the title to Artigli (Talons), which D’Amato rejected, saying it sounded too much like a documentary about felines and settled on Uccidere gli uccelli -- Killing Birds

This treatment was then expanded into a screenplay by Daniele Stroppa, who had written Convent of Sinners (1986) for D’Amato and Delirium (1987) for Lamberto Bava, which was punched up for English speaking audiences by Sheila Goldberg, who had done the same for StageFright, Argento’s Phenomena (1985) and Umberto Lenzi’s Ghosthouse (1986). Later, both Fragrasso and Drudi claimed the original idea for the film came from them, but there is signed documentation that proved otherwise; and so, the treatment came from Lattanzi with an assist from Bruna Antonucci, which officially settles who wrote Killing Birds / Zombie 5 but not who directed it.

Yeah, we kinda got a Steven Spielberg or Tobe Hooper Poltergeist (1982) situation here. And while Lattanzi is the credited director, others say that, no, D’Amato was in charge. According to Antonio Bonifacio, Killing Birds’ assistant director, Lattanzi was just a front for D’Amato, who could not be credited as both producer and director on too many films due to union rules. Lattanzi had no idea how to direct, said Bonifacio, but D’Amato had him on set “in case a journalist or anyone else dropped by.” And it was this way from the beginning, meaning D’Amato didn’t take over mid-production when Lattanzi floundered as other sources claim.

Lattanzi, meanwhile, always stated the film was a total collaboration between the two, done "in symbiosis.” D’Amato himself never denied this, saying, "It seemed to me that the most sensible thing was to give the job of directing the dialogues to (Soavi's) assistant, Claudio Lattanzi, while I took care of the special-effects scenes. In the end, I let (Lattanzi) sign as the director.” And for the record, D’Amato would also serve as the film’s cinematographer under the name Fred Sloniscko Jr., which was one of his many aliases, including Arizona Massachusset, Michael Wotruba, David Hills, Robert Yip and Joan Russell.

Again, I’m not sure why anyone would want to stake a claim as being responsible for Zombie 5: Killing Birds because it contains no zombies and only one bird attack, which happens in the first five minutes of the film; though our protagonists are constantly under surveillance by these alleged avian adversaries, which leads to absolutely nothing. Oh, sure, I think Lattanzi and D’Amato want us to think these vengeful birds are influencing what’s been happening but I think I’m about done connecting the dots for these yo-yos.

At face value, what we have here then is a ghost story, wrapped up in a few slasher tropes, that also wants to be a killer animal movie. It also tries really hard at being a mystery, too, but this is totally bungled from the get-go as our co-directors try to hide the fact that the killer from the prologue and Dr. Brown was the same person, which might have been suspenseful if handled properly when these plot threads collide, but, nope.

Thus, this only causes more confusion instead of clearing anything up -- like, Why isn’t Brown still in jail? Well, get this: apparently, before the bird gouged out his eyes, Brown hid all the bodies of his victims; and with no bodies, the authorities couldn’t make any murder charges stick and he was set free. However, he did lose custody of his child. At least I think that’s what we are to assume since, once again, again, the film just kinda lets this plot turd float in the ether.

And while he did lose his eyesight to one of them, Brown still has a passion for birds; only he now “watches them” by listening to them and recording and analyzing their calls, which he then demonstrates for his uninvited guests after he puts on a pair of dark glasses to hide his off-putting deformity.

Asked what brought them to see him, Steve wants to know anything the man can tell him about the Ivory Billed Woodpecker. But Brown says that’s a lost cause, fearing the bird is now long gone. But as they thank him for his time and move to leave, Brown has a sudden change of heart and says to wait as he moves to a bureau and starts rifling through a drawer.

Here, a curious Anne spots a photo of a woman among the jumbled contents and starts to ask about it -- only to be interrupted by Steve, feeling she’s being rude since the man obviously can’t see what she's talking about. When Brown finally finds what he was feeling for, he hands over a file folder full of maps, saying these will help them in their search, and then sends them on their way with a sincere hope that Steve finds what he is looking for -- and by sincere I mean odds are good if Steve follows that map he and the others will most likely never be seen alive again.

On the way back to the van, Anne gets upset at Steve for not letting her follow through on the photo. When asked why it was so important, Anne finally reveals what she knew all along about Brown and his family’s “disappearance” after he returned from a tour in Vietnam. Was this photo of Brown’s dead wife? Anne sure seems to think so, and wanted to confirm this before Steve blew it for her. (For the record, it was.)

But this intriguing thread is then summarily dropped for an extended montage of Steve’s crew out in the mucklands, happily photographing and documenting a bunch of birds -- only the one they seek remains stubbornly elusive. But as the day drags on, they slowly realize they have somehow become hopelessly lost. 

Now technically, this was not Bryan, the guide who came with the van’s, fault as they make mention of a thick fog that sprung from nowhere -- only there is no fog. Seriously. There’s nary a vapor. But! The filmmakers apparently subbed in some Vaseline smeared over the lens to simulate, well, something that really doesn’t look like fog. At all.

Anyhoo, as this bunch of boobs stumble around in the broad smears of daylight as if they can’t see a foot in front of their face, trying to find the van, they find a derelict and rusted out truck instead. And upon further investigation, they find a rotted corpse manning the cab! 

And as the screams erupt from the womenfolk, panic grips the whole expedition as they bolt away, deeper into the marshes and wetlands, until they come upon a palatial house in the middle of nowhere.

With not much daylight left, the decision is made to seek shelter there for the night and resume the search for the van in the morning. After they get inside and determine it’s been long deserted, we get another montage of their extensive search of the house -- from the old generator in the basement, to the cobwebs in the attic, and all points in between.

But it’s Jennifer who makes the most ominous discovery, when she finds the long abandoned aviary, meaning our group has stumbled into the murder-house from the opening prologue -- only they don’t know this.

Meantime, as Bryan, the guide who came with the van, and Rob fight to get the stubborn generator to fire up -- an OSHA nightmare contraption that is basically a Stephen King novel just waiting to happen, which finally complies, Anne and Mary find a duplicate photo of the one in Brown’s drawer, which reveals Brown and his wife from a happier time. 

But as Anne studies it intently, a mold outbreak of some sort quickly blots out the whole picture as if by magic --(or a shitty special effect). She then joins the others in the main room, where they discover Steve is missing.

And where is Steve? Well, the better question might be when is Steve as he is apparently lost in some kind of phantasmagorical time loop as he searches the house, enters a room, and is suddenly transported back to 1965, where he finds the bloody after math of Brown's rampage.

He then hears a strange tapping coming from the next room, where he spies Brown feeling his way into the house. Terrified of him for some reason, Steve quickly flees into the aviary, once again teeming with birds, where he finds a zombified woman preparing a bottle for her baby. 

Terrified by this, he flees back into the house proper, where where he finds Anne crucified onto the wall with her throat slit -- who then smiles at him! With that, the sinister house, which had been giving off bad vibes to him ever since they arrived, essentially herds him deeper inside by blowing open doors until the last one swings open to reveal the others impatiently waiting for him in the main hall.

But before you can ask, What the hell is going on here?!?, the others decide to call it a night. Unaware that some thing is now lurking around outside the house, Paul and Mary split off on their own. Steve is too wired from his waking nightmare to sleep, and so Rob decides to stay up, too, tinkering with his portable computer, which is currently on the fritz. Meantime, Anne asks Jennifer if she’d like to bunk together, which gets her a big fat hell no.

Yeah, Jen has been fuming all day as Anne and Steve got chummier and chummier as it went along. And now she is so mad, the girl storms off by herself, back to the aviary, where she runs into some kind of zombie-mummy-moss monster hybrid, which attacks her. 

But the girl manages to retreat into a pantry, where she doesn’t realize another soggy ghoul was already hiding, who proceeds to bash her head into the wall until it's nothing more than a bloody wet pulp.

Now, all this while, Mary gets startled awake by a terrible dream she was having, where a man in combat fatigues found her in bed and sliced her throat open. Shaken, she moves to the window and sees Jennifer as she first enters the aviary.

From there, her point of view is a bit obscured but the girl is certain something is attacking Jennifer and tries to wake up Paul so they can go and save her.

Meantime, Anne and Steve are talking and rekindling a few old flames. Obviously, Steve is still freaked out a bit about his earlier ghostly encounter, and he confesses to Anne there’s something strangely familiar about this place just as Mary and Paul burst in and say something has happened to Jennifer.

But a quick check of the aviary and surrounding rooms show no sign of her -- though they do miss her broken and bloodied glasses discarded on the floor. Thus, they split up and start searching the rest of the house. 

Now, Bryan, the guide who came with the van, gets to search the basement, where he notices the old generator is leaking fuel all over the floor. And as he continues to search for the missing girl, the man doesn’t realize a small, zig-zagging line of flame is slowly trailing him. 

And when it finally catches up, Bryan, the guide who came with the van, erupts in flames and goes screaming into the night -- quite the spectacular stunt, I might add. Kudos to the stuntman involved on the full body burn here.

Anyhoo, the other groups see Bryan, the guide who came with the van who is now on fire, as the human fireball disappears into the trees. And with a bit of a callous shrug, the search for the still missing Jennifer continues, though most are starting to feel there is something seriously wrong with this house, and maybe, just maybe, they should all just leave.

And, hey! Lookatthat! The fog machine is finally working as Paul and Rob stumble around in the thick mist, looking for their missing friend, and come upon the van! But then they hear Mary scream, which sends them running back to the house.

Seems she and the others have finally found what's left of Jennifer. And with that, when the others are alerted that the van has been found, it's unanimously agreed that they all need to get the hell out of there.

But Rob insists he must return to the evil house one last time to retrieve his precious computer first. This he does, while the others load up in the van, where they realize Bryan, the guide who came with the van, who was on fire, and is now most likely dead, had the keys.  

Luckily, after Rob gets in and out  of the house from hell okay, he says he can hot-wire the van and sets to work crossing-wires. But he's soon interrupted when the vehicle comes under assault by not one, but two, zombie-mummy-moss monsters!

And after one of these creatures punches out a back window, seizes Mary, and partially rips her head off, the van is quickly abandoned and the last four survivors -- Steven, Anne, Rob and Paul, return to the possessed house. 

And while the others start ripping up floorboards to barricade the doors and windows, Rob starts running a new program on his computer, certain it can help them figure out and how to solve just what in the hell is going on here.

But his work is interrupted when the generator conks out, forcing Rob and Paul to head to the basement to try and get it running again. And while he does manage to patch the leak and refill the reservoir with what precious fuel is left, when the machine is cranked back up, the compass Rob was wearing around his neck gets caught up in the gears, sucking him into the machine, where part of his hand is torn apart before the tightening strap caught around his neck essentially decapitates him.

Upstairs, Anne and Steve check on Rob’s abandoned computer, which was beeping incessantly. But all the screen says is, Welcome home, Steve. Then, Paul returns and makes his dreadful after action report just as those muck-monsters start trying to break down the door. 

But while the barricades seem to hold, the creatures then eschew the doors and windows altogether and just burst through the walls instead, seizing Anne! Working fast, the men are able to free her, allowing them to retreat up into the attic.

This only proves a brief respite though, as another creature punches-in through the roof, seizes Paul by the head and pulls him up through the jagged hole, where he promptly gets stuck while his throat is torn out. 

Thus and so, as their dead friend hangs there, swinging gently in the breeze, Anne and Steve, who believes this was all somehow his fault, brace for the worst.

Meantime, Dr. Brown, whose fault all of this really is, hears a certain raptor calling and realizes he's heard that screech before, and it was the same bird who had attacked him 20 years ago. (Note to self. Do not Google life-expectancy of raptor birds. Wait. Maybe both birds are ghosts now?) He also seems to sense something terribly bad has happened at his old house, grabs his walking stick, and heads off into the bayou to meet his fate. 

Meanwhile, as the sun comes up, the creature attacks seem to have abated and Steve and Anne decide to risk it and manage to escape the attic unscathed. Here, they run into Brown, who takes a bit of a last second plot dump, saying the house is possessed by evil that feeds on the fear of others. And the stronger the fear, the more powerful and deadly the malevolent spirits become.

And after confirming Steve’s parentage, Brown then tells the other two to go, saying the house doesn’t want them. No. He knows what it really wants and defiantly stays behind, feeling no one can fear what they cannot see,

But as Steve and Anne flee the house, they look back when we suddenly hear Brown screaming, which is quickly drowned out by the cacophony of the swarming, vengeful birds as the frame freezes and the end credits roll.

Zombie 5: Killing Birds was filmed on location in Thibodaux, Louisiana, with a very small crew. The main shooting location might look a little familiar to you, too, as it was the same house used in Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond (1981). It was also shot in sync-sound with no overdubbing, which was actually pretty rare for an Italian production of this budget.

But the production’s big get was Robert Vaughn, who plays the older Brown. Taking a detour between productions in Manila and Spain, to his credit, the actor was very professional and didn’t mail anything in. And the only real problem I had with his character was the special make-up for his damaged eyes, which someone rightfully pointed out looks like “he got to the set late and had to put it on himself without the benefit of a mirror.” Special-effects artists Robert Gold and Harry Harris fared a little better in the eye-gouging scene, which is delightfully gruesome -- because no one does eyeball trauma better than the Italians.

The rest of the grue during the myriad murder set-pieces were also pretty spectacular -- though they were all telegraphed pretty badly in earlier scenes, with special mention for Rob’s, who is ground up in the generator, and Mary’s, who is torn up in the van, while Paul’s is a pretty shameless grope at reenacting a set-piece from D’Amato’s notorious Anthropophagus. And while I wouldn’t technically call them zombies, I thought those muck monsters were pretty cool.

To be fair, I don’t think they were ever intended to be zombies in the first place but the malevolent manifestations of those people Brown had killed, which were in turn resurrected by the birds -- if I'm reading the tea leaves right. And to be even more fair, Killing Birds wasn’t officially roped into being an unofficial Zombie (1979) sequel until it was released on home video in the aughts, explaining how the feature predates both Zombie 3 and Zombie 4.

Now, I know I’ve already talked ad nauseum about the convoluted history of this franchise in my earlier reviews of Zombie, Zombie 3 and Zombie 4: After Death, and why there is technically no Zombie 2 even though there is. Sort of. But to sum up (and taking a deep breath):

It all began when Argento recut George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) for its Italian release as Zombi, which sprung an unofficial sequel with Fulci’s Zombi 2, which was then released in the States by Jerry Gross as Zombie, and when Fulci made Zombi 3, which was his long awaited sequel to Zombi 2, which was released as Zombie, remember, and extensively reworked by Fragrasso and Bruno Mattei, it was released as Zombie 3 everywhere else, explaining where Zombie 2 went, sort of, which was then followed up by Fragrasso’s Zombie 4: After Death, and from there, we get into home video releases, where no less than 14 films staked a claim to being a sequel to Zombi 2 / Zombie, including Andrea Bianchi's Burial Ground (1981), which was released on VHS as Zombi 3: Nights of Terror; and Marino Girolami's Zombie Holocaust (1980) used both aliases of Zombi 3 and Doctor Butcher M.D, and José Luis Merino’s The Hanging Woman (1973) also later passed as Zombie 3: Return of the Living Dead, and don’t forget Mattei’s Hell of the Living Dead also circulated as both Zombie 3: Zombie Inferno and as Zombi 4, while Jess Franco’s A Virgin Among the Living Dead (1973) also, you guessed it, was released as Zombi 4, which brings us to part five, where we got both Killing Birds and Zombi 5: Revenge in the House of Usher (1982), and then came Zombi 6: Absurd (1986), and then came Zombi 7: Anthropophagus, which we’ve already discussed. Got all of that? Good.

As for Killing Birds or Zombie 5 or Zombie 5: Killing Birds or whatever, well, honestly, it had a pretty decent premise that was then totally bungled in the execution -- aside from a few of those spectacular kills. Like with a lot of Italian genre films it has its own internal logic that must be cracked and adds a whole 'nother layer of WTF to unravel -- namely when you start getting into the preternatural anthropomorphic bird angle. Yup. Wasn't the spirit of his dead wife out to get Brown and the others, but a falcon out to avenge his buddy from beyond the grave. But it’s more frustrating than bad, if that helps at all. And with this franchise, as it grinds on indefinitely, I will take all the help I can get. 

And that, as the kids say, is that. 26 days. 26 films. 26 reviews. Finis. Hope you all enjoyed this not so brief resurrection as much as I did, my ever faithful Boils and Ghouls. Will I ever return again? No man can say for sure. Happy Hallowe'en, one and all. And then, just like that, as if he were an apparition fading in the sunlight after a long and harrowing night, he was gone.

Zombie 5: Killing Birds (1987) Filmirage :: Flora Film / P: Joe D'Amato / D: Joe D'Amato, Claudio Lattanzi / W: Claudio Lattanzi, Daniele Stroppa, Sheila Goldberg / C: Joe D'Amato / E: Kathleen Stratton / M: Carlo Maria Cordio / S: Lara Wendel, Timothy W. Watts, Leslie Cumming, James Villemaire, Sal Maggiore, James Sutterfield, Lin Gathright, Brigitte Paillet, Nona Paillet, Robert Vaughn
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