‘Zombie 5: Killing Birds (1987)’ is an Italian horror film that was released in 1987 and directed by Claudio Lattanzi, with the infamous exploitation-cinema legend Joe D’Amato on production duties. It was released in Italy under the title ‘Uccelli assassini‘.
It’s a simple fact that most movie fans have come to accept: sequels are rarely better (or even as good) as the originals. And those sequels are even less likely to be any good when they’re not actually sequels, but a desperate money-grab that pushed the studio to tack onto the wave of a more successful film. And if you’re on your fourth instalment of this kind of insta-cash-in? Well, I’ve got some bad news for you.
‘Zombi 2‘ (aka ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters‘), the Lucio Fulchi cult classic, was so named to capture the attention of any Dawn of the Dead fans looking for their next zombie hit – Romero’s ‘Dawn of the Dead‘ (1978) was released under the title ‘Zombi‘ in Europe. The success of Fulchi’s Zombi 2, despite not being related to Romero’s film, spawned a collection of notoriously awful sequels-to-the-“sequel”- Zombi 3, then Zombi 4: After Death, and then the cultural black hole that is Zombi 5: Killing Birds. That’s what we’re taking a look at today.
The plot – if it can be called that – goes as follows: a man goes mad and kills his wife and family, sparing but his baby son. Then a falcon turns up and rips his eye out, leading his son to be adopted (you’d think they’d have considered the murder to be enough, but whatever). Years later, a group ventures into the woods to track down the few remaining examples of a quickly dying species of bird, only to be attacked by zombies. Chaos ensues. I think the most disappointing thing about all of this was the distinct lack of actually zombified birds, because that sounds like a movie I would never stop watching.
So, where to start with what’s wrong with this film? The performances, especially from the film’s tentative “star”, Robert Vaughn – are of about as high a quality as the script, which so spectacularly and uncaringly throws out any pretence of narrative or character development early on that I actually have some respect for it.
The zombies are barely really zombies, more nasty creatures who just sort of throw themselves at people and occasionally cause enough damage to be fatal and, more to the point, they only bother to shamble on screen for the last act. In the great tradition of brilliant Italian horror movies, Zombi 5 is pretty far away from Profondo Rosso.
There are certainly attempts to ramp up the scare factor here, but most of them come drenched in so much blood as to actually be comic – whether it’s the Final-Destination-esque death that befalls an unfortunate generator user (or two), or the spectacularly violent killing spree at the start of the movie, any sense of real terror is flushed down the toilet by whatever z-grade artificial blood they were using as gore (seriously, it looks precisely like ketchup).
I know this film is a somewhat legendary mess amongst hardcore eighties horror film fans, and I can see why- the b-grade actors, the melodramatic script, the satisfyingly violent kills….it might be a godawful piece of cinema, but that doesn’t mean Zombi 5: Killing Birds doesn’t deserve at least one cursory watch. Note: contains no bird killing.
And if we told you not to watch it, well, then you’d only watch it anyway.
Watch the trailer for ‘Zombie 5: Killing Birds‘ below:
Watch the full movie:
|Buy the film at Amazon.com|
|Buy the film at Amazon.co.uk|
Written by: Louise MacGregor