Sunday, August 30

Some quick thoughts on Doctor Butcher M.D. (1980)

Zombie Holocaust. I love how absolutely terrible this Italian schlock outing is, even by the usual Italian schlock standards. Girolami's film plays like a rip-off within a population of trashy trend rip-offs, like vomiting up pasta and then eating it again. Okay, perhaps that's a bad analogy. It's as if Fulci's Zombie had been filtered through cannibal flicks other than Holocaust or Ferox with a generous dash of Martino's Mountain of the Cannibal God. Also, what the hell is Ian McCulloch doing in this? Even though he's the man (well, next to Warbeck, 'natch), he apparently had misgivings about being in Zombie, but I guess he musta really had to eat at that time.

After seeing the fully uncut Shriek Show tape and DVD several times; I decided to pop in the olden Paragon VHS of the American recut, re-titled Doctor Butcher M.D, running at 82 minutes. This version has a number of alterations; including a tacked-on unrelated opening sequence presumably directed by Roy Frumkes (of Document of the Dead fame), a loopy cartoonish score in place of the original, and the short inconsequential "trap" sequence included only as an extra on the Shriek Show editions (video here) included in the feature. The new score is extremely annoying, often being the same five second funky '70s guitar twangs and backbeat played over long stretches. Oddly, at times you can actually hear the original music playing when actors speak with the new music being over top it all.

There's also an audio fix when the black nurse discovers the mutilated cadaver. On the Shriek Shows, her scream is looped twice in quick succession to hilarious effect. On this Paragon tape, she only screams once, but the suicidal male nurse's arm still rockets off upon hitting the concrete. One thing I didn't notice were any obvious cuts to the gore from what I remember in the uncut version; eyes are graphically gouged, throats slit, guts torn out, and zombie heads outboard motored. This is strange since a number of sources say this tape has cuts to such violence. Gore looks so wonderful on 25-year-old tapes!

Here's the Frumkes opening sequence from YouTube, SNUFF MAXIMUS!


venoms5 said...

I first saw this movie in 1984 and upon renting it after seeing the gruesome as all hell trailer on another tape, instantly fell in love with it.

There was a local video store that specialized in predominantly horror and fantasy oriented tapes and when they closed down, I bought hundreds of them DR. BUTCHER included. I had some 700 genre related tapes alone. Sadly, I sold them all off once DVD's hit.

Supposedly, this tacked on opening is part of an incomplete movie, TALES THAT'LL RIP YOUR HEART OUT. I still have a bunch of old bootleg and legit tape catalogs around somewhere. One of them was Mondo Video and they sold that film, or what remains of it.

Kevin J. Olson said...

Great stuff. I reviewed this movie awhile back on my blog. It's funny that they would go with the title Dr. Butcher M.D. instead of what most people know it by: Zombie Holocaust. I mean everything around that era with the word zombie in it was video store gold. That being said...Dr. Butcher M.D. is a MUCH better title.

All I remember about this movie was that it was made by the make-up artist or AD for Fulci's Zombi 2. They even used some of the same locations.

Pretty boring movie...but it is gory.

the jaded viewer said...

The scene where the zombie who gets motored to death is priceless. It takes the zombie like 15 minutes to attack and he dies in 3 secs. Poor zombie.

Anonymous said...

I have heard this is 2 movies spliced together also, and it makes sense. I think it was an old Balun review i read about that. One of the first couple Deep Reds if im not mistaken.

this flick is ALL over the place, but we all love it!! you dare tread upon the staircase?

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