Doctor Butcher M.D. / Zombie Holocaust (1980) (Blu-ray Review)
Directed By: Marino Girolami (as Frank Martin)
Starring: Ian McCulloch, Alexandra Delli Colli, Sherry Buchanan
Rated: UR/Region O/1:85/1080p/Number of Discs 2
Available from Severin Films
The members of an expedition in search for the last faithful of Kito, the cannibal god, land on a small island in the Moluccas (East Indies) and are soon hunted by cannibals and zombies, these being created by a sinister Doctor O’Brien who is experimenting with corpses. Suzan, a sexy lady in the expedition team, eventually takes a hold on things, as she is accepted as queen of the cannibals, and direct them against the mad scientist and his army of zombies. In this two-disc Blu-ray release from Severin Film, you get two cuts of this movie. The grindhouse version is known as Doctor Butcher M.D. and the more commonly known version, Zombi Holocaust. Here, both films fully restored for the first time ever from original vault elements discovered in Manhattan and Rome and loaded with all-new Bonus Features that finally reveal the unbelievable truth behind its bizarre history, infamous marketing, and still-deviant legacy.
While Disc 1 is technically the Doctor Butcher version of the film, I want to start things off with the Zombie Holocaust cut. The first thing you’ll notice is a major improvement over the Shriek Show Blu-ray that came out many years ago. The fact you have detail here is a sight right off of the improvement. It is grainy and some spots pop better than others, but it looks good and I think everyone will be happy. Other than that you end up with a very entertaining “bad” movie. One that feels like someone was trying to make a Zombi vs Cannibal Holocaust movie and just combined the names. Starting off at a hospital where body parts are missing from cadavers, then one thing leads to another and we have a group made up of folks heading up by Zombi’s Ian McCulloch, basically playing off the zombie plot to go to an island to deal with a cult of cannibals only to find things a lot more complex once they arrive. While the film has both, it really plays off as more of a cannibal movie than a zombie movie with the cannibals being more of a danger to our characters and the zombie scaring them off in general but not acting very zombie like other. We see find a connection between what would be our “Doctor Butcher” and the zombies that just manages to up the cheese factor but the movie is always fun with the onslaught of unintentional comedy, gore, and nudity. Not everything makes the most sense, but if you came into something titled Zombi Holocaust or Doctor Butcher M.D. looking for logic, you’ve come to the wrong movie. I’d say most everyone who buys this, however, will get just what they wanted and then some.
Some not “in the know” might be somewhat shocked to find that Doctor Butcher is none other than Zombi Holocaust re-cut and with some new footage added in for the folks back on 42nd Street back in the day. I didn’t know this going in and it took me a bit by surprise. In my opinion, the movie keeps all that you like about it anyway, but here things seem to be a bit better paced if I do say so myself. It keeps the basics but seems to put a more grindhouse style to the overall flick that would make it feel right at home in any theater that probably once had shady people in the back corner and sticky floors. I gotta admit, I kinda dig it more. Don’t get me wrong, I like both. But the better pace of this one tends to take out some of the annoying things like an attempt at a plot and just gives us more of the stuff horror fans come to see. Along with two versions of basically the same movie, this two-disc set also comes with tons of extras (some on both discs) that gives you interviews with actors Ian McCulloch and Sherryl Buchanan, as well as Aquarius Releasing’s Terry Levine and the director of this film’s son, Castellari Remembers. We also get awesome 42nd Street material and even reels of an unfinished segment for a horror anthology that never saw the light of day but was used to be cut into the Doctor Butcher M.D. version of the movie. Plus, much more goodies you can spend a day or so watching and reading. All in all, you might find yourself torn between which art from which side to use but you’ll have a blast with this release.
DISC 1 DOCTOR BUTCHER MD
– Featurette: Butchery & Ballyhoo: Interview with Aquarius Releasing’s Terry Levine
– Featurette: Down On The Deuce: Nostalgic Tour Of 42nd Street With Temple Of Shock’s Chris Poggiali and Filmmaker Roy Frumkes
– Roy Frumkes’ Segment Of Unfinished Anthology Film ‘Tales That Will Tear Your Heart Out’
– Featurette: The Butcher Mobile: Interview with Gore Gazette Editor & Butcher Mobile Barker Rick Sullivan
– Featurette: Cutting Doctor Butcher: Interview with Editor Jim Markovic
– Illustrated Essay: Experiments With A Male Caucasian Brain (…and other memories of 42nd Street) by Gary Hertz
– Theatrical Trailer
– Video Release Trailer 1
– Video Release Trailer 2
DISC 2 ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST
– Featurette: Voodoo Man: Interview With Star Ian McCulloch
– Featurette: Blood Of The Zombies: Interview With FX Master Rosario Prestopino
– Featurette: Filmmaker Enzo Castellari Remembers His Father Director Marino Girolami
– Featurette: Sherry Holocaust: Interview With Actress Sherryl Buchanan
– Featurette: Neurosurgery Italian Style -Interview With FX Artist Maurizio Trani
– Featurette: New York Filming Locations Then Vs. Now. A look at the Big Apple locales as they are today
– Audio Bonus: Ian McCulloch Sings Down By The River
– International Trailer
– German Trailer
Quality of Transfer: 90%
Doctor Butcher M.D.