Scene 24: We spend some time following Susan, as she glides through the water with her boobs and takes photos.
[Which would be a crawl and irritate me, but I already know the famous scene we're coming to, and it's all that its reputation suggests, so I won't complain.]
Scene 25: Topside, Anne shouts to the boys, as she's spotted another island on the horizon that is also not on their maps. Peter expresses hope that it could be the elusive Matoul.
Scene 26: Below, reef, fish, and boobies. In the short distance, a reef shark patrols unnoticed yet by Susan.
The shark is able to swim up alarmingly close behind Susan before she notices Its interest in her. Susan waits for it to pass before making a fast swim to the surface. There she shouts for help/a warning about the predator.
Susan has come up too far from the boat to risk splashing around trying to get to it, so she goes back to the bottom and looks for a place among the reefs to hide. In the meantime, Brian grabs a rifle to try to chase off the shark, or kill it.
[None of which is going to work. Susan should've traveled along the bottom from reef overhang to overhang to get closer to the boat. Brian shouldn't be wasting bullets trying to hit a target dozens of yards away and underwater because you're not going to hit anything, and even if you got a lucky shot, all of the momentum is lost, leaving your shot with no penetration power.]
As expected, Brian doesn't hurt anything. But for some reason, the shark reasons that its being shot at and decides to ram the boat, before returning to its casual hunt for Susan.
Scene 27: Underwater, Susan is hiding when she feels someone grab her shoulder! It's a rotted looking man, and he isn't wearing any breathing gear!
Susan tries to push her attacker off, as his weight shoves her toward the sandy bottom [and our stunt zombie tries to stop staring at her bewwwwbies].
When Susan can't shake him off, she grabs some rough plants from the reef and shoves it into his face causing him to let go of her enough for her to swim away. She makes another dash for the boat, above.
Scene 28: Luckily for Susan, the shark soon takes a more pressing interest in the man she left behind [which actually makes sense, since sharks are opportunity feeders -- the rotting scent in the water would certainly draw more interest than the not-hurt figure swimming away].
[And here it is! Putting aside Auretta's nudity, we have THE SCENE that Zombie is known for... Shark Vs. Zombie! Yes, it's a real, practical stunt with a human and a shark water-rasslin'. There is a problem for me with this scene, but more on that anon.]
The shark moves in to take a bite out of the waterlogged zombie, while the zombie tries to dig its nails into the shark's rough hide. Both end up wounded.
The zombie is able to rip a chunk out of the attacking shark.
In the meantime, the wounded shark comes back around for another attack attempt. This one goes slightly better, as it gets an arm out of the confrontation.
Commentary: So, this scene: It's a real conundrum. I cannot deny that it may be the best animal attack scene in any b-movie, ever. It is unexpected, rather intense with some great footage and the synthesized theme playing over it just makes it that much more cool.
But... I also have guilt over enjoying it, because it is very clear that this shark was tortured and drugged to get this encounter. Clearly, it's drugged because of its very slow attacks. And clearly it has had all of its teeth removed to protect the diver, which is reprehensible. And I don't know how or from where they got this shark, but if they left it out there with all of its teeth pulled, they may as well have shot it afterward. It's cruel. Not shocking, as Italy's animal abuse for film during this period is well documented across their horror genres [especially the cannibal films]. So, yes, it was ambitious and brilliant and amazing... but... WAS IT ENTIRELY NECESSARY? This film would've been fine without this stunt.
But it is awfully unique visually, and for that I gotta give respect. But I don't feel good about it afterward.
And I do so wish that Al's butt would get equal screentime with Auretta's boobs.
Scene 29: In an abrupt cut, Susan climbs aboard their boat from her harrowing ordeal. She tells them there was a man down there, to Peter's shock... [but then nothing is done with this information].
Scene 30: Back on the island, more patients have been tied down to cots. Dr. Menard is led by his nurse, Clara. He examines an older man, and shakes his head at Clara, pronouncing he won't live through the night.
Clara asks what to do, and he pulls her away to tell her to move him into the church's backroom so the other patients won't panic.
[If you think by this point, trying to protect patients from being frightened seems a bit besides the point - you're right! Nobody is getting out of those beds again, and it's obvious that most of the "patients" are only partially aware of anything. You also have to think that they've had family already going into this "hospital" and not coming back out, and know what their own fate is going to be.
That said, I still feel sorry for David and Clara, who honestly have nothing to contribute and should've left the island when they had the chance -- although, maybe on a boat other than Anne's father's.]
From outside, where a windstorm has kicked up and carries the ubiquitous and unending sound of voodoo drums, Lucas rushes in.
David escorts him back outside out of the patients' hearing, and asks him about his panic. He reports that the village has been completely abandoned. He reports that the local witchdoctors are taking everyone inland with them to perform more voodoo rites.
The doctor is contemptuous of this doing anything. His attitude suggests that he's gotten sick of the islanders' superstitions in regards to this virus, but he also doesn't have anything concrete to assure Lucas that they can stop this.
Lucas and David wander off (for the village... for some reason...??), while in the trees something/someone watches. [Again, leads to nothing.]
Scene 31: After dark, back at the Menard's, Paola does what everyone should do when frightened by disease ridden unfortunates getting closer and closer to your home... take a langorous shower!
In the meantime, Miguel is out front watching over the property with his trusted canine companion.
The same heavy breather who followed the doctor and Lucas, now spies on Miguel, which the gardener seems to feel. He gets up to walk the property.
Paola takes a shower... [with the shower curtain wide open and a mirror placed just so in order to show off her butt without having to turn around and hide her boobage. As you do in an apocalyptic setting, where you need to have the empty room check out your hotness, I'm sure -- I was hoping this would at least be justified by her drunkenly teasing Miguel, but no. Oh, she also takes showers in front of large windows for that extra bit of naughtiness].
ANYway.. as Paola continues trying to relax in the public-display shower, black and bloody fingers start squeaking up the window panes.
Scene 32: Paola finishes in the Exhibitionist's Dream Shower and wraps a towel around herself as she leaves the bathroom. She stops long enough to grab a bottle of relaxants and pops a few of these.
After she tosses on a shift, in a mirror she thinks she sees somebody outside her hallway window. But by the time she creeps across the room to look, no one is there. She breathes a sigh of relief, but this is short lived, as she begins to hear noises from elsewhere in the house.
Paola rushes to her bedroom, tries to lock herself in, only to find the door -swollen in the tropical humidity- won't shut tight.
She begins to hyperventilate, as she continues to hear somebody in her house. From around the door frame, comes a pair of fingers with black and bloody nails.
Now, with something to panic about, Paola struggles against the person trying to push her door in. Her attacker is utterly silent, as she gasps and cries. Paola is finally successful, as the fingers smoosh, bleed, and ultimately sever.
Now left with nothing but a flimsy door to keep out, presumably one of the sickened people, she struggles next to move a chest of dresser drawers into place against the door. Behind her, we can see the door actually breaking apart.
Though she succeeds in her barricade, her door itself is still coming apart. For some reason, she breathes another sigh of relief, despite not being safe and having no idea where Miguel is off to [It's even possible she thinks this is Miguel trying to take advantage of her... my point is that she's not acting like a woman in danger, just because of a dresser in front of her door].
Paola's relief is again short lived. This time, an arm breaks through the door and grabs a handful of her hair. She screams and struggles, but the hand has her tightly and she can't yank back hard enough to tear her hair out and flee.
Paola finds herself being yanked toward the door! And right toward a large wooden stake broken out of it! At eye level!
[And this would be the 3rd thing that Zombie is famous for after Auretta's boobs and the shark attack on zombie scene. And this one is a tough one to sit through, if you have any queasiness about eye violence....]
Paola painfully slowly is pulled head first toward the door, inexorably.
Without cutting away, Paola is pulled into the door splinter eye-first! [Urrrgghhh!]
Commentary: This whole scene was marvelously done, after the needless nudity. The slow build of tension, as Paola realizes she's not alone in her house is leading up to the gore shot, and it's masterful. And then, when you're waiting for the shot to jump away from her impalement, instead we get a close up of the eye being splintered. It's a shocking moment on first watch, and it's too bad that EVERYone knows it's coming, now. Because when you don't expect it, this is jaw-dropping. And really gross. And the aftermath with the actress having this huge splinter broken off in her eye is some terrific effects!
Even with Paola being hysterical and ... well... a bitch, earlier, this scene makes me feel sorry for her. And I want her to get out of the zombie's reach... but she doesn't, of course.
Scene 33: Back out a sea, Brian is nursing the boat just off-shore from the mysterious island.
Someone backs away into the trees and spies on them [we never, ever get any indication of who this is or why, so stop wondering; it's almost as if this was a subplot that got dropped but wasn't entirely excised -- it's also possibly Clara, but that doesn't make any sense, really].
Scene 34: Elsewhere, Clara walks through the center of the nearby village with only goats for company.
Scene 35: Offshore, Peter sets the anchor.
Scene 36: Onshore, Clara has found a mildly drunk David lying around next to the water. She's there to tell him about someone named Matthias, who they both know, and who has been very sick with the disease. Clara struggles to imply he's taken a turn for the far worse, without saying it aloud, which only angers an impatient Dr. Menard.
The reason for Clara's reticence is the subject of voodoo again being brought up as an explanation. She insists she doesn't believe in voodoo nonsense, and the doctor agrees he doesn't believe either... but they have to investigate the phenomena anyway. The seriousness in which this is stated, and her worried gaze away, suggests that maybe in their hindbrains, they are starting to believe despite themselves.
David confirms that their friend, Mattias, has become one of the shamblers. He insists that they have to try to help him.
Commentary: I keep wondering if Clara was the heavy breather, and maybe her spying around the island, including on Paola was part of a subplot about her lusting after David. Maybe in an earlier draft, she even led the zombies to Dr. Menard's house to get rid of Paola. Some of her interactions with David feel completely professional, while others like this one, feels like there is some feeling toward him that could be very personal. Whatever it might've been, though, as it stands the lurker isn't ever revealed, so it's a dangling thread that leads to nothing. I don't know why we couldn't have a single scene of a witchdoctor leading the undead to the "white's side of the island", to safeguard his own people and explain away the weird stalking scenes, as well as adding another ambiguous bit of writing that maybe voodoo is causing the infestation after all.
Scene 37: Back offshore, Susan and Brian come up from under the boat. She's nude. He has trunks. Of course.
Susan confirms with Peter still aboard the boat that the drive shaft has been cracked by their encounter with the kamikazee shark. It's not good news for Brian, who tells Peter that they'll either have to go on land, and wander around looking for a repair shop, or they'll have to sit tight offshore and hope somebody wanders along to help them. He tells Pete that they'd have a tough time making it to the next island.
Scene 38: Back at the makeshift hospital, another body lies tied up in a bedsheet (Mattias, surely). Both Menard and Clara look down on him with stricken despair. David looks away as he jerks his gun up and fires into the corpse before it can reanimate.
Scene 39: Offshore, Brian tries a flare.
Scene 40: Onshore, Mattias' head wound bleeds, soaking the sheet.
David and Clara stare at each other in grief. He finally nods his head to dispose of Mattias.
Scene 41: Offshore, Brian tries another flare as the sun begins to set.
Commentary: This is a beautiful shot, but this offshore/onshore skipping is weirdly placed. And for no actual benefit. A simple line when our troupe is on shore that Brian tried as many flares as he wants to risk wasting and they now have no choice would've sufficed. Of course, on the other hand, a shirtless Pierluigi isn't a bad thing.
Scene 42: Onshore, Lucas sees the flare, but he's too busy digging a mass grave for the victims. Which is where Clara and David find him, as they carry out Mattias' remains. Lucas tells the doctor about the flares being launched out of Catfish Bay.
Menard goes to investigate, while Clara and Lucas dump Mattias into the grave where several other bodies already lay.
[I think, from what comes afterward, that this is the next day.]
Commentary: I really like how bleak this film actually is, despite being a b-pic, zombie flick. You can really get a sense of everyone's exhausted hopelessness via the acting and shot compositions. And the fact that the only score is the unceasing drums and occasional chants from somewhere on the island, just adds to the atmosphere. The producers/Lucio picked a fantastic location for this scenario.
I only wonder why the islanders haven't figured out yet that making so much noise is only going to attract more death to them, and shut the hell up. It can also be unclear when the characters are hearing the drums, and when it's for our benefit.
Sometimes, they comment on them and other times nobody reacts to them [which I guess makes sense - as they become just background noise after a while -- but Peter, Susan, Brian and Anne don't comment much on the drums, either].
Scene 43: In the hospital, a woman in the throes of sweat, and tied to a bed complains about seeing her husband walking around when he had died. She's been vomiting on the pillow next to her, and is surrounded by bloody bedsheets and unconscious people.
The "hospital" looking even more bleak and unmanaged than the impression we've already gotten by how overtaxed David and Clara look.
Scene 44: In the nearby village, a single zombie walks through the center of the otherwise abandoned town. He gasps harshly at unneeded air and moans and groans.
Commentary: This is a beautiful shot. It doesn't add anything storywise that we haven't already received, but it's nicely framed, and again reinforces the bleak hopelessness that the island is experiencing due to this disaster. Interestingly, the wanderer makes no move to feed on the goats. And even the voodoo drums and chanting have silenced for the moment. The desolation is palpable.
Scene 45: Back with Dr. Menard, he's retrieved our adventurers in his Jeep. He tells Anne about having known her father for three years, and having become close friends with him. He reports to Anne that when her father became ill, he insisted on staying despite David's trying to convince him otherwise. David presents him as volunteering to be a guinea pig to try to find a way to combat their outbreak. He tells Anne he remembers the day clearly, when Clara came and told him that her father was dying.
Scene 46: We enter flashback-land. David is told that Mr. Bowles is dying. He does so. He reanimates and we confirm that our opening scene was of Dr. Menard putting down his friend, Anne's father.
The hospital was clean, with crisp white linen then. Anne's father's dying wish was to make sure his last letter reached her and for David to ensure that his soul is laid to everlasting peace.
He dramatically dies an instant later. David relates to Anne that he watched over her father's body until there was no other choice but to shoot him in order to free him. We see Dr. Menard's emotional struggle to reach the point where he could "kill" his friend, but when the body sits up after being clearly dead already, he finally goes through with it.
Clara was the one who our gunman told to inform the crew that the boat could leave. We don't get an explanation for why Paola wasn't onboard.