In years past, B-Movie Enema had always celebrated the month with some sort of spooky theme. In 2016, it was vampires. In 2017, we had slashers from the 80s. 2018 actually had a real theme title – Nights of Demons. What’s this year’s theme? Well…
Shit. Well, I got nothing this year. But I remember back to a simpler time that set the precedent of no October theme. Way, way, waaaaay back at the very beginning of B-Movie Enema (October 3, 2014 to be exact), I did a string of scary movies because the first five of six enemas came out in October. So, I’ll do that theme. The no theme Halloween. Just some good ol’ horror movies. To kick things off, let’s check out an Italian ripoff – 1980’s Zombie Holocaust, also known as Doctor Butcher M.D.
So there’s an “also known as” to this movie. Because of course there is – it’s an Italian movie. Let’s break down the first title – Zombie Holocaust. In the same year as this movie, an incredibly influential film by Ruggero Deodato was released. That film is Cannibal Holocaust. Gosh… There’s lot you can say about Cannibal Holocaust ranging from being recognized as the first “found footage” film to allegations of it being a legit snuff film to catching heat for animal cruelty.
It also started a whole thing with cannibal movies. For a few years after its release, cannibals were in. Cannibal Ferox and Eaten Alive followed, but an earlier Deodato film, Jungle Holocaust, got some additional attention as well. On the flip side of that, Italian horror was also still cranking out zombie movies. Zombie, Fulci’s “Gates of Hell” trilogy, Burial Ground (aka The Nights of Terror aka Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror)… That’s not even mentioning how much Italian cinema always loved their ripoffs.
So that brings me back around to Zombie Holocaust. You’ve got Zombie AND Holocaust in the title. It’s trying to cash in on all the Italian horror ideas. I don’t know exactly how true that last statement is. Frankly, it is possible it just was coincidental that the title came out like that, but let’s face it… Italians love ripping shit off. If it was not already planned to be called Zombie Holocaust, the title was changed upon release, or it was simply two words given by the producers and screenwriter Romano Scandariato and director Marino Girolami just had to do something with them. Maybe their original movie was its own thing but also real close to the stuff in those other really popular movies that got attention so they had to change the title. Who knows what goes on in the minds of Italian filmmakers?
Probably the Shadow. He knows everything.
A couple years later, the movie was imported into the United States where it got heavily edited as well as had scenes from a completely different movie stuffed in to help. It was put into video stores during a wave of new gory horror movies populating what was left of the drive-in theaters across the country and video store shelves. It also got a new name, Doctor Butcher M.D.
I can’t say for sure why it was given the new title, or it cut in bits from some dude’s short film to pad out the runtime, or much more beyond that. I could look it up because I am typing this into a magical computation device that is connected to the world wide websters, but, you know what? You can do that too.
In 2016, Severin released both versions of the movie on Blu Ray and DVD as a double disc set. But check it… It’s not just that we get both versions of the movie in this set. It’s got an even better special feature and it’s why you should always buy physical media…
Yup, it comes with a fuckin’ barf bag. Bravo, Severin. Bravo.
As the movie begins, you gotta leave some room for concern. That’s because it’s basically just a static shot at night on some random buildings as the title and credits are flashed on screen. How do I know it’s focused on random buildings? That’s because the moment the credits end, it pans to an actual consequential building. We see a guy walk through the dark corridors into what appears to be the morgue. Actually, I guess it is the morgue because the guy sees two covered bodies just hanging out on gurneys in the middle of the room. You know, how morgues do. He tosses back the sheets on one of the dudes giving the ladies a little something to appreciate in terms of pubes. The guy cuts off the left hand off and makes off with it.
The next day, a teacher starts doing his anatomy lesson for the class. He uncovers the body and he and his assistant, co-doctor, whatever, named Lori, played by Alexandra Delli Colli kind of just looks at it as if to say, “Huh… That’s odd.” They continue on. A couple of the students crack some jokes about the missing hand and the doctor dismisses them angrily. Lori swears the body was intact and she checked it herself. The doc, Dr. Dreylock, says they can’t call the cops because it will look pretty bad.
Also, as it turns out, Lori is not a medical student. She’s just the assistant at the morgue school. She’s actually an anthropology student/expert. That actually does mean something later. It’s just odd that she’s into anthropology and is hanging out in the morgue. But what do I know? People think I’m a B-Movie expert and I hang out in dumpsters because that’s where being a B-Movie blogger gets you.
When your movie is less than 90 minutes, you better make fucking sure you show every moment of Alexandra Delli Colli disrobing for… I dunno… incense lighting and possibly a bath? I dunno. We meet Susan, who comes to ask Lori some questions about the shenanigans at the morgue. Lori is none too pleased with Susan’s insistence on getting answers to questions and such. She also doesn’t care much for her questions about her various artifacts she’s collected – like the goddamn knife on the wall for ceremonial human sacrifices.
Anyway, that night, Bleylock and staff catch the culprit who has been stealing the body parts and innards and stuff. It’s a worker who decides he’d rather take a cement dive than answer any of whitey’s questions so…
Obviously, he had a superfluous third arm because one went flying but in close up, he still has both his arms. Anyway, he says something about “Keto ordered it” which means to Lori that he was on some sort of holy mission or something. He’s got a tattoo on his chest that matches a symbol on that knife she’s got hanging up on her wall and it’s also found on each of the recent Southeast Asians who have been caught doing some gross shit and acting crazy.
Lori begins working with Dr. Chandler in investigating what’s been going on. Chandler is played by Ian McCulloch of Zombie fame. She really doesn’t want to do any further investigation with him outside what she’s already helped him with in terms of these sacrificial murders and cannibal shit. She intends to stay out of it the rest of the way, but when she realizes her place has been burglarized and her dagger is missing, I guess she has to stay involved in all this business.
Chandler and Lori are going to head out to the Asian Molucca islands where they think they will find more about the people who may be coming to New York to eat people and cause general commotion and stuff. Lori was raised in the Moluccas and at first isn’t so sure about returning because it might ruin some of that sweet nostalgia she has for the area. They are joined by Susan and Chandler’s assistant George. They meet up with Dr. Obrero who is an old colleague of Chandler’s who’s basically gone native to “help” the “natives” and “stuff”.
100% that means he’s making zombies. But say…
When your movie is less than 90 minutes you better fucking make sure you’re getting all the shots of Alexandra Delli Colli undressing as you possibly can. I don’t care if you have 97 minutes of footage of ADC undressing… We’re gonna use all of it!
Obrero warns Chandler, George, and Susan to NOT go to the Ketos, but enough of that conversation and bullshit… ADC is done with her bath so we’re seeing even MORE of her now. I like the progression here. We see her fully clothed early on. Then in her panties and bra at her apartment in order for her to light incense. Then topless when prepping for her bath. Then we get the bush when she’s done with her bath. It’s almost as if the cleaner she gets, the dirtier she is…
Oh but anyway, that’s all ruined when she finds a maggot-filled head in her bed. Of course, Lori knows the symbol next to the head well. Chandler seems sorta concerned, but Obrero comes in and says that if the natives wanted to hurt her, they would have already done so. Smash cut to loading up on a boat out to the Keto island and everything obviously a-okay with the world. Hell, even Susan and Lori are having some playful girl talk about what they expect to see on the island.
As they near the shores of Keto, George tells Chandler that the boat’s engine has some problems with overheating. Realizing that it will be dark soon, Chandler makes the white guy executive decision to camp at the nearest island. First, the guy captaining the boat, Molotto, is Obrero’s manservant. He seems real suspicious. Second, the very first night, a guy went missing and was heard screaming. The next morning, the men go looking for the missing guy.
The good news… They find him. The bad news… He’s in pieces.
It doesn’t take long before they realize they pulled a good ol’ fashioned Ceti Alpha V. They thought they were landing on a different island, but they are actually on Keto. They discover this when Lori and Chandler see a marking on a tree that matches the same symbol seen on the attackers in New York and elsewhere.
The natives keep an eye on the visitors, and when one of the guides from the boat takes off running like the scared little bitch he is, he gets chased by the natives and is caught in a spiky trap where they slit his throat and immediate go in for a snack. George says they should get to higher ground to better defend themselves.
However, I have a better idea…
How about you just leave? The boat was overheating, but you should be able to take the boat out off the island. If it overheats, who fucking cares? You’ll be out in the middle of the ocean. I don’t think native cannibals will be able to get you out there. Shit. Leave your rifles behind. You’re in the middle of the ocean! You’re safe. Movie over.
But no. Obrero is called and he tells them to go to this old missionary building. He’ll come pick them up in the morning and take them back to another, non-cannibal-y island. All this seems pretty dicey, right? That very fucking night, a native was in the ladies’ tent and has to get machete’d in the fucking face by Lori. The last of the three helper guides gets impaled by a giant piece of bamboo.
So, yeah… These guys are basically completely fucked. Right in the butt. By a pineapple. Two nights, three dead. And… AND! And the party has to go even deeper into the island in order to get to the missionary building to get saved by Obrero.
Now, I hate to be, you know, “that guy” but why can’t you get back on the boat? No, I’m being serious. I know I got up at one point to top my glass of Pepsi off, but that was while they were trying to find the first missing dude. There was no comment on the boat being incapable of at least getting away from the island. If the boat overheats, you turn off the boat. You float for a bit, let it cool off, and then turn it back on and go a little further. They make it seem like they are saying, “That boat we came in on? Yeah, no fucking way we’re getting back on that thing. That boat smells. It’s loaded with spiders. I heard it once fucked an inflatable elephant at a kid’s birthday party. It once told a sort of unfortunate joke at a Bernie Sanders rally. What an asshole that boat is.”
The natives grab Susan and start carrying her off. While trying to save her, George gets nabbed and he gets his guts all spilled out as a snack. Oh, and also his eyeballs get eaten. Oh and Lori, Chandler, and Molotto are about to be next on the menu when the natives are scared off by some zombie lookin’ dudes. So… Yay zombies?
But, again, not to be that guy, how was this a chance you had to take over just going back to the boat?
Well, now we’re down to Chandler, a completely incompetent fool of a hero who just won’t go back to the boat, Molotto, a big ol’ black dude or native or something and also completely useless, and Lori who is just a girl, an icky, sexy, incapable of making her own decisions girl. Yuck. Anyway, George is dead. He seemed capable. Susan is missing, possibly a sexy snack herself. They get to the missionary building and Obrero is already there to greet them. He says there’s nothing they can do for Susan and suggests Chandler and Lori get the fuck outta Dodge.
All joking aside, Obrero kinda fucks up. He tells Chandler to get the dinghy and take it to where the boat is anchored. Chandler knows Obrero shouldn’t know where the boat is based on how he approached the island. Not only that… Obrero knew immediately which island they were on when no one told him they went to the “wrong” island. Now Chandler doesn’t really want to leave to uncover whatever secrets Obrero is trying to hide.
Not only that, but the boat waiting for them has a dead engine. Not only that but a dead islander, in the form of a zombie sent to attack them. Chandler uses the one working engine to fuck that zombie’s head right up. Now, the jig is up. Chandler has all he needs to know that Obrero is trying to kill them and led them there on purpose. Lori seems to be on board with this idea too and they decide to head back confront Obrero.
But on the way back, Lori falls into a trap and isn’t able to climb out even with Chandler’s help – even though the trap is only just about her height. He has to hide from some natives. As the natives decide what to do with Lori, Chandler fucks ’em up. I should also note something real obvious in this portion of the movie… As Chandler and Lori are headed back to the missionary building, they are VERY CLEARLY NOT in the same location where the earlier scenes were shot. It was obvious wherever the earlier island scenes, and subsequently later shots after it, were at least somewhere green and warm, if not straight up tropical. This scene where Chandler attacks the two natives is in a cold, gray, and obviously dead area. Like it was shot in winter somewhere in either the US or in Europe somewhere. That’s just shit you notice when you’ve seen enough of these goddamn movies like I have.
Alright… Back to the story. They see a what they think is Susan looking at her camera only to discover it is a native or zombie or something with her hair as a wig and her clothing. That’s because Obrero has Susan on an operating table where he plans to do some pretty nefarious shit. He’s got her scalped and ready for surgery. When she screams too much, he removes her vocal chords rendering her completely silent. As he drains her blood, he gives her a shot to keep her awake. He plans to transplant her brain into the body of a dead dude. Afterwards, I guess she’s gonna be a zombie like the others he’s fucked around with.
After sneaking into Obrero’s secret lab, Lori is attacked by one of the zombies and both she and Chandler are captured by Obrero and Molotto. Lori escapes, but Chandler is gonna be Obrero’s next guinea pig. Lori is immediately captured by one of the cannibals and this is where shit gets kinda weird. You’d think the cannibals would want to eat Lori, right? No. They paint hippie flowers on her as she kinda just stands there like a statue. She’s just totally naked and seemingly okay with all this.
They lead her into this cave and put her on this… this stone wheel or something. But say…
How did this movie know my thing was to watch a blonde Italian girl, painted up like a hippie chick, get nearly sacrificed on a big ass stone slab by cannibal islanders?!? Holy shit that is surprisingly spot on to my interests!
Alright, so the cannibals realize, for some reason, that because the stone slab moved or something, Lori is the Queen of the Cannibals or some such shit and decide to follow her lead. Meanwhile, Chandler escapes from the operating table. Thankfully, the good Doctor Butcher’s zombies are super flammable because Chandler tosses a gas lamp onto one of them and that bitch goes up. Because he fell over and against a support beam, that building catches on fire. The natives flood in to get rid of the zombie attacking Chandler while others decide to make a meal out of Obrero.
Chandler realizes Lori is now Queen of the Cannibals and they just leave.
I mean it. That’s the end. They see Obrero’s lab on fire. They see some of the cannibals eating the doctor, and they just… leave.
This movie feels about as Italian as it gets. Yeah, I already mentioned the zombies and cannibals portion, but there’s even more to it than that. There’s some sort of scholar/doctor thing in most of these movies. Be it anthropology or medical science, what have you. That’s always present in these movies. Even Cannibal Holocaust has that documentary element that is really just a different way to say some people went on an anthropological trip. You’ve got cannon fodder for the sake of being cannon fodder. In this movie, you knew that our four main heroes would not all come back. I guess we’re lucky we got half of them to survive. George follows a pretty strong trope of Italian horror in which the most capable dude gets dead pretty much first or surprisingly quick. Susan pretty much gets the shaft by dying in the more unfortunate way of just “being there”. It’s not even like these two did anything wrong. They just bought it because the genre demands blood.
On top of that, you have the gore elements of eating guts and maggots covering the faces and eye holes of zombies. You’ve got lots of nudity almost for the hell of it. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate that. Naturally, you have an international cast so dubbing is all wonky. I swear… It’s almost as if this movie was MADE by Ital…
That wraps up this week’s B-Movie Enema. We’re off and running on the spookiest month of the year… October! Next week, I’m going back to the Jess Franco well for one of his earlier, more… ummm… respectable (?) films. 1966’s The Diabolical Dr. Z! It’s been a real, real, real long time since I’ve done a movie as old as this or in black and white. So… there’s that, but I’m pretty excited for it!