New York herein is the province of the mind, the mind of the Italian movie director: bustling with traffic and lined with tall skyscrapers that mimic ideas, constructs. And yes, Fulci films in New York. We see our first uberzombie on the boat, which is the Fulcian lead zombie, with head tilted slightly back, haughty, seemingly indestructable. The uberzombie is a big ole monster that just appears from the hold on the boat like a stray nightmare.
Nameless, nondescript dead wrapped in sheets are shot in the head, a wholesale slaughter that mounts a tally over time as the nameless and nondescript are dispatched one by one, and we are not to see the process but to understand. Maybe the mad doctor's trepidation is the conscience of Fulci, that maybe he should not do this, should not release his mad vision to the world, because maybe the world is not ready. Having discovered something, he fights, he dispatches, because the better part of him speaks up.
A word about Ian: he's the foil of the peice, finding out about the madness on the island on his southern sojourn, that too a part of the mind, a hellish subconscious that would torture a sane person, but kept in check by the dispatching bullets of a mad doctor, a doctor filled with worry, listening to the drums beat in the jungle as the dead pile higher and higher.
As Auretta Gay removes her bikini top and Ian, the half-gay Brit smiles, the film takes on an importance, though the boatswain remains ambivalent, as if to say to himself "so what?". As she straps on scuba gear, running a nylon strap over her thong and strapping it down, the film is then divided into hemispheres, demarcated, ideas matriculate, and we know their lives are all up in the air then, as though having fallen from grace on approach to the island hell. But she just wanted a half-nude dive, and that much is denied as she finds another zombie, lurking under the water. The zombie is then assaulted by a curious shark and the poetry of the piece becomes more than just metaphors, but a ballet as green blood courses from the gills of the aquatic beast.
A word about the eye-gag after the nude shower scene: this is Fulci struggling with his audience to be understood, and therein he is perhaps too bold, not as fine in his story points as an Eastwood or a Spielberg. Nevertheless, the doc's wife is killed through her eyeball(am I saying this right, or just mixing my own metaphors), and the wood shard is broken off inside her head as she falls dead. Therein is a demented juvenile poetry, a bird-brained Shakespearean motif played to no effect, no notice, by Fulci.
Yes, they take refuge in a church and hurl firebombs at the zombies. You would think then they would be harassed by burning zombies, which would have been cool from my perspective as an effects-first sort of fellow, but alas no: the burning zombies fall dead. There are close quarters bites and other nonsensory as the group fights for its life amidst the swarming undead, and the ever-present beating of the drums from the jungle. I would also say a three-hundread year old corpse couldn't rise as a zombie, and yet Fulci gave us that bend, that it wouldn't have rotted to dust, but would have muscle tissue that could reanimate. Well. Okay. I didn't make the movie. So ancient sins even come to visit the island hell.
A word about the final shot of the movie: bridge traffic in New York is slow is hell.