Originally published on this site here, in Italian.
Original title: io Zombo tu Zombi lei Zomba
Produced by: Tv Cine 77
Directed by: Nello Rossati
Written by: Roberto Gianviti; Nello Rossati; Paolo Vidali
Cinematography: Sandro Moncari
Editing by: Adalberto Ceccarelli
Special effects and Make-up: Sergio Basili; Italo Cameracanna; Aldo Ciorba
Music by: G. Ployer (alias Gianfranco Plenizio)
Running time: approximately 97 minutes
Budget: N/A; Secondo Renzo Montagnani “there was no money“ (fonte: Amarcord n. 3, giugno-luglio 1996, citato su Il Davinotti)
Tv trailer for Italian tv channel 7 Gold
WARNING – THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Every once in a while we happen to see a movie and to notice with a strange feeling that, despite being up to many of its “colleagues” who regularly pass on television, it is not transmitted except at long and irregular intervals, maybe with the exception of some local TV.
This is the case of Io Zombo, Tu Zombi, Lei Zomba, Nello Rossati’s horror comedy dated 1979 and influenced by the then diptych of Night and Dawn Of The Living Dead by Romero1.
It is a rather strange case, that of the lack of programming of this movie.
And it’s a bit sad, also because, despite having all (and I mean all) the flaws of the Italian sex comedy, this movie has two characteristics that it might be worth noting: a poverty of means that at times really attests to the border of the independent movie (just see the movie poster at the top, where besides Nadia Cassini someone will have noticed the just sketched tray, or at least what can be guessed to be a tray, that she holds); his inclusion among the horror comedies (in particular zombie comedies) and among the parodies.
And it is no coincidence that this movie may not have grossed much, may not be broadcasted too often, but it’s known almost everywhere2: the focus on a specific genre, the quotations, the rather unusual horror connotation for a comedy of that time have allowed this movie to be remembered over time and to become a cult movie in its own way.
The poverty of means. In fact, rather than of “means”, it is a poverty of realization. If indeed there is one thing that even the harshest detractors of this movie will notice, it’s the presence in the cast of a large number of very popular actors: Renzo Montagnani, Cochi Ponzoni, Duilio Del Prete, Daniele Vargas, Gianfranco D’Angelo, Anna Mazzamauro, Nadia Cassini, Arrigo Masi (aka Ghigo Masino), Tullio Solenghi (his cinema debut).
Of course, given the poverty of the rest, the first deduction that could be made is that the budget may ended up completely in the fees of the aforementioned actors. It could also be, for heaven’s sake. In any case, Montagnani himself admitted that “there was no money“3.
And yet the realization, in fact quite poor, is not too much poor in the sets, which after all are ordinary but decent, for example4.
However, the plot is soon told: the caretaker of a cemetery (Montagnani) accidentally resuscitates three victims of a street accident (Vargas, Del Prete and Ponzoni) reading aloud a spell reported in a horror novel. Died from fear, the caretaker is in turn zombified by the others and, in search of human flesh to eat, the four will start managing a hotel in order to eat the patrons.
So far there seems to be a good breeding ground for a funny comedy, and all in all it can be so. Of course, the jokes are not always the best, but they can also make you laugh5.
In another respect, it must also be said that some less showy obvious trick, as in the case of the dropsy affecting Gianfranco D’Angelo, could perhaps have been found.
And there is also a contradiction that could not be explained except with a tortuous series of arguments, which can be experienced only after having seen the movie in its entirety: Tullio Solenghi is in fact a zombie, but when he was alive he was killed with a headshot. If the weak point of the zombies is the head, how did Solenghi even resurrect? It can also be explained but it is really tortuous, talking between fantasy and reality, with the horror novel that is not always reliable, with the fact that Solenghi’s zombie does not seem to shine (at least initially) for intelligence and this, perhaps, precisely because of the headshoy, with that strange idea that you shouldn’t take these movies seriously (an idea that I haven’t understood it well yet: this movie has three writers, just to say). And even this tortuous explanation would lend itself to being contradicted.
However, there are some nice jokes, some nice gags and some unusual situations, sometimes at the limits of surreal.
Anna Mazzamauro, for example, is always perfect, and in this movie is a very successful cross between Miss Silvani from the Fantozzi series and a tyrannical wife towards her husband (Vittorio Marsiglia). Montagnani too, as always, is very good, and his are perhaps the best jokes in the movie, especially those against “Predappio” Vargas and his desire to command. Masino is an undertaker who complains of prejudice against his profession but also full of prejudices of all kinds. The many contour characters do their part.
Talking about particular situations, then, this should also be the first time that an embrace between a woman and a zombie is inserted into a film.
There are also some gems for collectors.
For lovers of horror-erotic comics, we note that the pestiferous son of Anna Mazzamauro (Fabrizio Vidale6) reads Oltretomba.
For lovers of the sexy part of Italian sex comedy, Nadia Cassini shows herself in all her beauty during what is perhaps the most poorly filmed strip in the history of Italian cinema7, in which she also shows good balance on a table covered with a very slippery tablecloth.
For horror lovers, then, both a beautiful shot of the four zombies in a meadow, and the idea of the supermarket can give some satisfaction, in addition of course to the sight of the cemetery itself, which always remains a place of the soul.
Finally, for fans of pseudobiblia, the novel La Vendetta Dello Zombi by Ed Calder, published in this movie by Mondadori in the I Record series, could be a new element of the collection8.
And one thing can also be said, in the end: a movie about the living dead, starring a not exactly brilliant cemetery caretaker played by Renzo Montagnani, and which aims to show us the comical adventures of four zombies in the Italian sex comedy had to be a low-budget movie, with screenplay problems, with an even gross comicality, without fully positive characters (apart from D’Angelo), with headlines that seem to have been produced years before for one of the thousand movies with Franco and Ciccio.
It had to be because it doesn’t only serves to make us laugh: it serves to make us think.
Are we sure that any kind of dull but rhythmic and colorful comedy would have been better?! Are we sure that putting two zombies in the classic college where commendator Lino Banfi courts the teacher Michela Miti would have been so brilliant?!
I’m afraid it would not. Probably we would have forgotten that comedy five minutes later. Just as we have forgotten the ten thousand Pierino movies and the ten thousand Teachers, Policewomen, Doctors and Nurses of Italian sex comedy, all now so revalued that the tv channels pass them at noon.
And instead it is precisely those episodes of the sex comedy which, like this one, present particular situations or are themselves particular, themselves symbolic, themselves unforgettable, which save themselves from oblivion.
And Io Zombo, Tu Zombi, Lei Zomba is, in its own way, an unforgettable movie.
Tv trailer for Italian tv channel 7 Gold
Dyson, Emma. A Strange Body Of Work: The Cinematic Zombie. Retrieved from: https://researchportal.port.ac.uk/portal/files/2951395/Austin_A_Strange_Body_of_Work.pdf (last visit 10/07/2018)
Il Davinotti: trivia about the movie – https://www.davinotti.com/index.php?forum=40001713 (last visit 08/07/2018)
Il Davinotti: locations of the movie – https://www.davinotti.com/index.php?forum=50001713 (last visit 11/07/2018)
Il Davinotti: tv passages of the movie – https://www.davinotti.com/index.php?forum=30001713 (last visit 09/07/2018)
IMDB – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0128275/mediaviewer/rm2434882816 (last visit 11/07/2018)
Letterboxd – https://letterboxd.com/slapayoda/list/eaten-alive-italian-cannibal-and-zombie-movies/ (last visit 13/07/2018)
Porthsmouth Research Portal – https://researchportal.port.ac.uk/portal/en/theses/a-strange-body-of-work(b8b025f1-369e-4b5e-80c9-760a40e964a0).html (last visit 08/07/2018)
Vox – Osservatorio italiano sui diritti – http://www.voxdiritti.it/la-mappa-dellintolleranza-anno-3-la-nuova-radiografia-dellitalia-che-odia-online/ (last visit 13/07/2018)
- About the tv appearances of Rossati’s movie in Italy, see here.
- See here for example, in particular p. 313, and here.
- In an interview whose excerpt is reported here.
- The movie was shot in Palombara Sabina and Sant’Angelo Romano (RM), and probably the Hotel Silvan (now Sylvan) and the cemetery (the Cemetery of San Francesco near Palombara), whose managers are thanked in the credits, weren’t too altered during filming. For the movie locations, see here.
- As in many films of this genre, some of these jokes could be judged politically incorrect today. Just a tad bit, though. First of all because even those who say these jokes are not exactly depicted as geniuses. And then, because we can also say it, in the meantime we too have basically barbarized ourselves: see and navigate freely here to believe.
Here is a big question which is posed from time to time: was it also for certain jokes that we got barbarized as that link seems to tell us? My humble and personal opinion, obviously open to updates, denials and so on, is that, whatever happened, the doctor certainly did not order it, which indeed does not even order us, today, to continue on that way or, much less, to censor these or other films.
Instead, in the opinion of the writer, there is a problem of antibodies that should be present in society and in the much-mistreated intermediate bodies, a problem because of which the filters with which we read both the reality and its mirrors (including cinema) are missing. And above all there is the need, before the use of the films or any other work, for a premise by some expert or at least passionate (who has passed a minimally selective test) and an afterword to recompose the picture. Today more than ever. Someone could object that the time would be lengthened of five-minute. If that’s the problem, I can answer that until the other day the credits too were cut from tv and theatre screenings!
And never invoke censorship, please: someone will remember the case of Gone With The Wind in Memphis (I talked about it here, in Italian).
- Today he is a voice actor, among others, of Jack Black.
- I hope Nadia Cassini doesn’t get angry if she read us, because it’s not her fault.
- It could even really exist, who knows. Of course, the spell will probably be different from the one recited by Montagnani!