• Zombie 4: After Death

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: May 29th, 2018.
    Director: Claudio Fragasso
    Cast: Jeff Stryker, Candice Daly, Massimo Vanni, Jim Gaines, Don Wilson
    Year: 1989
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    The Movie:

    When the daughter of a Voodoo priest (James Sampson) dies from cancer, he puts a zombie curse on the team of medical scientists operating out of the area. A few years later, the daughter of one of those scientists, Jenny (Candice Daly), and her friend Louise (Adrianne Joseph) wind up meeting up with a quartet of dude-bro-soldiers - Mad (Jim Moss), Rod (Nick Nicholson), Dan (Jim Gaines) and Tommy (Don ‘Not The Dragon’ Wilson) who take them on a boat trip.

    You see where this is going, right? Of course, soon enough they wind up on the shores of that same island when the motor powering their boat gives up the ghost. This upsets Jenny, because earlier on she was getting some bad vibes from the place, but they don’t really have a choice but to land. They poke around looking for something they can use to fix the boat, and then Tommy is attacked and bitten by… something. They wind up finding the old medical setup where they hope to help Tommy out.

    Elsewhere, a trio of rough and tumble adventurer types - David (Massimo Vanni,), Chuck (gay porn star Jeff Stryker credited as Chuck Payton) and Valerie – are also exploring the island after very coincidently finding a diary explaining its history. Eventually they get to a volcano, read aloud from a ‘Book Of The Dead’ and unwittingly bring about yet more flesh eating corpses hellbent on doing away with every last human on the island. The two groups eventually team up to try and escape, but Tommy, he’s not doing well…

    Good? No. Gory? Yes. After Death is seriously silly stuff in the grand Claudio Fragrasso tradition. The performances are all pretty daft (though to be fair everyone is dubbed) and logic pretty much entirely absent. But it’s fun, if you’re in the right frame of mind for it. Fragasso, for all his many, many faults as a director, does manage to keep the action moving pretty steadily here. Throwing the Voodoo element into the mix helps to set it apart from most of its Italian brethren and the movie can easily lay claim to one of the best theme songs ever recorded for a late 80s Italian zombie movie (not there there’s a ton of competition here). A wonky synth-heavy score from Al Fresta is also pretty great, and while the zombies here subscribe more to the ‘we can run and jump and do kung-fu’ theory of something like Nightmare City than the ‘we’re really dead so we can only sort of shuffle around’ theory of Night Of The Living Dead, some of the makeup and gore effects used to bring the corpses to undead life work quite well.

    Shot in The Philippines, (where life is cheap!), the movie has decent atmosphere and makes good use of its locations. It’s well-paced, features some solid action and more than respectable cinematography. This one works better than it really should, it is, if nothing else, quite entertaining.

    NOTE: As pointed out in the comments below, the version of the film included on this Blu-ray is the longer export version of the film, running eight minutes longer than the previous Media Blasters DVD release.


    Severin’s brings Zombie 4: After Death to Blu-ray with a transfer taken from a new 2k scan (presumably of the negative, though press materials don’t specify) and presented in 1.85.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. It’s generally a pretty strong effort. Colors look very good and the image is much more film-like than the older Media Blasters DVD. Black levels are fine and the image is free of noise reduction and edge enhancement issues. There’s a bit of jitter here and there likely inherent in the original photography but the picture is quite clean, showing little in the way of print damage while retaining a natural amount of film grain.

    The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track is fine. There are a few spots where the music seems a little loud in the mix but otherwise, no real issues here. The dialogue is easy enough to understand and pretty clear and the effects sound pretty decent here. There are no alternate language or subtitle options provided.

    The biggest extra on the disc is a thirty-two-minute featurette entitled Run Zombie Run that interviews director Fragasso and writer Rossella Drudi who by now will be familiar to anyone snatching up Severin’s recent Blu-ray releases of quirky Italian cult films. They speak here, in their typically candid style, about how Fragasso wanted to make this picture his way after all the turmoil on some of his past projects and about how they collaborated together to create different types and styles of zombies to exist in the film’s world. They also talk about problems with the weather and how that affected the shoot, having to add additional scenes to the film to build up the running time and their interactions with the cast and crew, including Stryker, claiming to be unaware of his past in the porn industry.

    The disc also includes a ten-minute interview with the man himself in Jeff Stryker In Manila. Here the actor speaks about how his relationship with a gay German actor landed him roles in a couple of Italian films in the hopes that it would launch him into a mainstream career. It didn’t really work, but he’s got some fun stories here about not understanding the crew, the makeup effects and his time spent on set.

    Closing out the extras is a brief two-minute interview with Daly entitled Blonde vs Zombies where she talks about her experiences on set, four minutes of behind the scenes footage shot on set during the production, an English language theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection.

    It's also worth pointing out that the first 3,000 copies of this release will include the Al Festa’s complete soundtrack on a bonus CD – something that should please film score fans for sure.

    The Final Word:

    Zombie 4: After Death is gloriously goofy but easy to enjoy. It’s chock full of the kind of lovably dumb ideas that Fragasso’s career is known for with some strong fore and memorable set pieces. Severin’s Blu-ray offers a substantial improvement over the previous DVD release and includes some solid extras. Throw logic to the wind and enjoy.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 5 Comments
    1. Jack J's Avatar
      Jack J -
      Ian, good review but maybe it would be worth adding that the new blu-ray actually (at least this is what I can gather from checking dvdcompare.net) contains the circa 8 minutes longer export version.

      Most old video tapes and DVD's use the shorter original (English dubbed) Italian version. It seems several other reviewers have missed this point as well. Would be pretty sad (funny) if Severin put out a rare version and everyone missed it. Haha.

      The old DVD versions (the Media Blasters version that you mention is also the shorter version):

      The new blu-ray:
    1. cmeffa's Avatar
      cmeffa -
      Thanks Jack J for the info. I own both the dvd and Vhs of the Shriek Show edition. I didn't realize that version was shorter. I personally love this film , as well as Zombie 3. Thanks again.
    1. Jack J's Avatar
      Jack J -
      You're welcome, cmeffa. I'm a fan of both Zombi 3 and Zombie 4 so we're both in the minority group here. lol. I do a blog about Vietnam War films filmed in the Philippines, and because of that I got to know and correspond a bit with Nick Nicholson for a couple of years before he passed away. He said he had a blast doing Zombie 4 (he's the big, wild guy with missing teeth).

      Btw, here's a piece of info about the filming of Zombie 4 that I found on Andrew Leavold's blog (written, it seems, by someone else than Andrew). Interestingly enough, the writer says Zombie 4 was filmed at the same time as Bruno Mattei's Strike Commando 2, and on the same set, but at night:

      "But what of the Strike Commando 2 you didn't see? What about all the craziness that went on after hours on the set? Actually, you did see that. It was called Zombie 4: After Death. In an effort to recoup the costs for Strike Commando 2 (thanks Richard!), while Bruno shot it during the day, Claudio used all the gear to shoot his zombie movie during the night! Even Huffbo got in on the two-for-one action when he convinced his then-fiancee Candice Daly to star in Zombie 4: After Death, so that she wouldn't miss him while he was gone making Strike Commando 2! While that sounds like a good idea in theory, in practice it must have left a little to be desired since Ms. Daly's biography shows that she married someone else that year and was later found dead at the end of 2004. The one aspect of the intersection of these two projects that remains unanswered is the one that everyone has always wondered about: Did Richard Harris ever run into Zombie 4: After Death star and gay porn star, Jeff Stryker?"
    1. cmeffa's Avatar
      cmeffa -
      Thanks Jack J for the info. I am a big fan of Fulci, Mattei & Fragasso. Also like your blog. A lot of great cinema you covered on there. I subscribed (follow) to it. I started my own blog 8 or 9 months back, if you get a chance please check it out. Link is in signature section below.
    1. Jack J's Avatar
      Jack J -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmeffa View Post
      Thanks Jack J for the info. I am a big fan of Fulci, Mattei & Fragasso. Also like your blog. A lot of great cinema you covered on there. I subscribed (follow) to it. I started my own blog 8 or 9 months back, if you get a chance please check it out. Link is in signature section below.
      Thanks, mate. Cool! Will do.