Like many in this strange saga, Zombie 6 is an unofficial entry into the Romero Zombie canon albeit in-name-only. Its main claim to the name is the fact that its director Joe D'Amato was also the director of the movie now best known as Zombie 5: Killing Birds. Naturally, Zombie 5 wasn't always Zombie 5, but was renamed so to cash in on the releases of Zombi 3 and Zombie 4 (both somewhat official sequels to Zombi 2, the unofficial sequel to Dawn of the Dead which, in turn, is the sequel to Night of the Living Dead).
Likewise, this film was renamed by its US distributors as Zombie 6 to cash in on the release of the relative, coincidental and dubious success of Zombie 5 (which... well, you get the idea). Not only is Zombie 6 completely unrelated to Zombie 5, Zombie 4, Zombi 3, Zombi 2, Dawn of the Dead and Night of the Living Dead, but it has virtually nothing to do with Zombie-lore in any way.
For an extra added layer of hindsight weirdness, although Zombie 6 is not a sequel to any of the Zombi/ Zombie flicks, it is, in fact, a sequel to some other unrelated movie! That's right! Although originally named Rosso sangue, renamed Absurd (the title under which it was released and banned in the UK), this film is actually a sequel to Antropophagus (AKA: Anthropophagous the Beast) which (like Zombie 6 and Zombi 2) is a VIDEO NASTY! This makes Anthropophagus The Beast/ Absurd one of only two prequel/ sequel pairs on the Video Nasty List... the other being The Bogeyman/ The Bogeyman II!
Okay, one more layer of hilarity before I actually start reviewing this thing... The release dates. Dawn of the Dead was released in Italy (as Zombi) in 1978, Zombi 2 was released in 1979. Zombi 3 hit theatres in 1988 and was immediately followed that same year by Zombie 4. Luckily Zombie 5 had already been released in 1987, so the pressure was thankfully off. Zombie 6... 1981... six years prior to the release of Zombie 5, seven years before Zombie 4 and Zombi 3 and only two years after Zombi 2. To be fair, it was only released one year after its intended prequel, Anthropophagous the Beast, so all the fans waiting on bated breath for a sequel to that one (and I'm sure there were at least... six) had a short wait.
They might have been disappointed, however, because there is even SOME debate over whether D'Amato and his writer/ star George Eastman actually intended Rosso sangue (if that is its real name) to be a sequel to Anthropophagous The Beast (also oft-renamed), or if this was merely put out there to cash in on the previous film's surprise success (relative though that success might have been).
Assuming that this is a sequel to Antropophagus (also released as The Grim Reaper), Zombie 6 (also released as The Grim Reaper 2) follows the main character from that film as he terrorizes a new landscape. If this character Mikos Stenopolis (played by Eastman, who was credited as playing "Nikos Karamanlis" in the last film) has miraculously survived his disgusting death in that Greek Island and he's looking a hell of a lot better, too. Soon we're told just why and how this is possible. The Preist who is chasing him (Edmund Purdom, clearly the "Monster Hunter" of the erstwhile title) reveals that he has a special coagulant quality to his blood that allows him to survive injury, heal quickly and keep from dying after almost any attempt on his life (by aaron pruitt). Father further reveals that the only way that this monster CAN be killed is by destroying his brain. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the sole textual explanation for why this movie could, in a million years, be called Zombie 6.
Apparently (again, if this is the same guy and if this is a sequel, either or neither of which could be the case) this healing ability has allowed him to recover from that terrible dermatological condition that could repulse even Freddy Krueger and has gone so far as to cure his male pattern baldness. That's neat, man. It hasn't cured his nasty disposition or his hunger for human flesh, however. He's ready to start eating just after he spills his guts... literally.
After terrorizing a hospital full of staff who were just trying to save him (including Annie Belle's Nurse Emily), the monster staggers to the Bennet household for a midnight snack. There, young Willy (Kasimir Berger) and his sister Katia (who is recovering from a broken neck and is played by Kasimir's real life sister Katya) are being cared for by none other than... Nurse Emily! That is because their parents (Hanja Kochansky and Ian Danby) are out for the evening, apparently picking off pedestrians with their car.
The shit only vaguely (and eventually) hits the fan when the Super-Monster finishes his 'round-the-house rampage during which all kinds of unspeakable things take place. This is extra weird, though, because Eastman doesn't look like a monster in this one... he doesn't even look like a laid-off member of Country Joe and the Fish like in the last film. He kind of looks like that obnoxious guy with the beard from Die Hard. Don't get me wrong, ol' Bochner was fine in that role but he was hardly scary.
Really, for a monster, Eastman's character really seems to be a dedicated follower of fashion, man! I mean, sure, he's trapped in the early '80s, but his denim shirt and pants with running shoes are a hell of a lot more stylish and contemporary than striped sweater with fedora, a hockey mask and work pants or a leather apron with... a leather mask. What, was he on Queer Eye for the Monster Guy recently or what? Maybe it's because I was only able to procure a worn out old VHS copy of this headache, but Eastman's character was hardly scary in this. At least not any more so than Mike from All in the Family... assuming Mike wanted to eat Archie, that is. Seriously, if this version of "The Man-Eater" knocked on my door, I wouldn't be like screaming "By all I hold holy, please spare the lives of my family, oh cannibalistic monstrosity!", I'd be more like "Look, man, I told the last three guys, I don't need to buy any Encyclopedias, I have no interest in subscribing to The Watchtower and I could give a grape-flavored fuck for the 'good news about Amway'! Blow."
Most of the film is a gore-fest, calculated solely to disgust (a goal that Eastman - born Luigi Montefiori - admitted was his inspiration for a great many scenes in Antropophagus). The viewer (assuming one exists beyond... well, me) can expect to see real animal guts, fake blood, fake bodies (made of obvious rubber) and only semi-convincing scenes of torture, such as the attempted roasting of a human being in a range oven. Attempted. Man, this guy's not even a good cook. No wonder he's the only cannibal in this Cannibal Exploitation flick. All the other cannibals ostracized him for his fashion sense and lack of culinary skill. To be fair, though, his hair is less well kept than the "Savages" in Cannibal Terror!
All told, for fans of this kind of thing, there are some entertaining moments (ironic or intentional) and there are a few moments in which a modicum of horror is approached. Be warned, though, this one is most assuredly nasty for a lot of reasons, notably scenes in which human heads are subjected to all manner of atrocity. In short... Iron constitution, s'il vous plait! For the low production values, derivative writing and cheap scares, not to mention the slowness of the last half, during which things should be speeding up, Zombie 6 (regardless of what name you want to call it) is a rose red, zombified DOG! One reason this might be so hard to find is that it really doesn't go anywhere. It's just Eastman lumbering around like ol' Noonan in Manhunter, trying to eat some Bergers. Ah, yes, the curse of being a completist. See you in the next reel!
What do you mean not if you see me first? What the -!?
Six times the Horror, Six Times the Fun!
Even I'm confused!
Somebody should just launch a site called "ZombieFlicks.com"
Oh, wait... I did!
Check it out when ready... or just click HERE for more reviews!