DR. BUTCHER, M.D. (MEDICAL DEVIATE) (1980)
aka Zombi Holocaust
Article 5062 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Marino Girolami
Featuring Ian McCulloch, Alexandra Delli Colli, Sherry Buchanan
What it is: Gore mishmash
The culprit of a series of body parts thefts at a city hospital turns out to be a man with connections to a cannibal cult on a distant island, so a voyage is made to the area. There the investigators encounter cannibals, zombies and a mad scientist.
“He’s a depraved homicidal killer… and he makes house calls!” screamed the ads for this much-ballyhooed gore picture, but you needn’t worry; unless you live in the East Indies, he’s probably not going to be dropping by any time soon. Actually, the English title is probably a bit more accurate than the original Italian title, or for that matter, most of the alternate titles of the movie (most of which contain the word “zombie” or a variation thereof). This is not to say that there are no zombies; there are zombies. But they’re not the flesh-eating murderous fiends so common to this era; they rack up a body count of zero, and ultimately come across more as minions, which makes them more similar to the zombies of WHITE ZOMBIE than those of DAWN OF THE DEAD. The mad doctor fills his share of the gory duties, but it’s really the cannibals that do most of the bloody mayhem here. Yet, for all that, this isn’t quite an Italian cannibal movie as we understand them; it lacks the nihilistic attitude or the sense of verisimilitude that is usually associated with that genre, and as far as I could tell, not a single animal was killed in this one (which I’m sure a lot of us would consider a plus). So if it’s not really an Italian zombie movie or an Italian cannibal movie, what is it? I’d describe it as an Italian version of the Eddie Romero/John Ashley Blood Island movies from the Philippines; that’s what the movie mostly feels like. Gorehounds will probably be satisfied with this one; those looking for more subtle scares will want to go elsewhere. However, I do have to comment on how ill-chosen some of the music seems to be; when cannibals are intent on their bloody mayhem, the music shouldn’t be conjuring up visions of skating rinks.