42nd Street in the 80s seemed like my kind of place, minus the murder of course. It was full of seedy theatres, porn everywhere and enough flesh to satisfy any craving. It was here that a lot of Grindhouse films made their big debut, and Doctor Butcher M.D. is one such film. Originally released under the title Zombie Holocaust, Aquarius Releasing picked the film up and recut, re-edited and re-released as Doctor Butcher M.D. The overall story is the same as the original version, with a few slight differences. Severin Films were kind enough to release both versions on a beautiful 2-disc Blu-ray package crammed full of special features detailing the history of 42nd Street and the two films. If you are a fan of gore, Italian nonsensical schlock and an ample amount of full frontal nudity, this Blu-ray is going to be your ticket to the peepshow. If you do not believe me, read on…
RUN-TIME: 82/89 min
ASPECT RATIO: 1.85:1
AUDIO: Dolby Digital Mono
LANGUAGE: English, Italian (Zombie Holocaust)
REGION: Region Free
PRODUCTION DATE: 1980
RELEASE DATE: July 26, 2016
As I previously mentioned, Doctor Butcher M.D. and Zombie Holocaust are nearly identical, save for a few different scenes. The story plays out the same and the end result is always going to be a confusing, poorly made bloody mess, but damn enjoyable. The biggest differences between the two versions are that Doctor Butcher M.D.’s opening is from a different unreleased short film titled Tales to Rip Your Heart Out. Does this attached opening add any value? Not at all and it does not make a lick of sense. The other big difference is that the M.D. version of the film was re-scored.
I will now try to explain the plot for the movie, but please forgive me if my head explodes as I try to comprehend it.
A rash of cannibals has been showing up in New York bearing the mark of the Keto tribe. Dr. Peter and morgue assistant Lori travel to the island of Keto to investigate why these immigrants are eating dead bodies in New York. They meet up with Dr. Obrero, who helps them find the island. Coming along with Peter and Lori is the journalist Susan and her boyfriend George.
While on their way to the island, their boat breaks down and they must stop at a different island. However, the island they stop at is the island that the Keto are living on (plot twist!!!). A few run-ins with the tribe and lots of blood later, zombies arrive to ruin the day. Why are there zombies on the island? Well, that is because strange experiments are performed on the Islanders, and you make a lot more money with zombies. If you are wondering how this all connects to the opening of the movie, you are going to keep wondering as nothing connects in this film. It is a mashup of gore, boobies, the bush, and zombies… Italian zombies.
Both Doctor Butcher M.D. and Zombie Holocaust are perfect examples of what can happen when you get a bunch of crazy Italians together and try to make a film about cannibals and zombies. It will not make sense; it will have lots of gore, and you can rest easy knowing that there will be an excessive amount of flesh thrown around. Also, the dubbing will be ever so hilarious. I cannot think of any reason why you would not want to watch it.
Severin Films has given these two films way more justice than they probably ever deserve. We are getting two quality transfers that provide a full on Grindhouse feel. Top all that up with audio that slams out the terrible dubbing and crazy score to a pristine level and you got a bad film lover’s dream come true.
It is not just the audio and visuals that make this release a slam dunk either. It is the copious amounts of special features that will have people grinning ear to ear. The first disc that contains Doctor Butcher M.D. is the one that goes into great detail about 42nd Street and the bizarre advertising done for the movie. Here, the features dive into the history of how a crazy flick called Zombi Holocaust became the Grindhouse hit Doctor Butcher M.D.
The second disc, which contains the original Zombie Holocaust, has special features that dive more into the actual film itself. Some aren’t as long as the features on disc one, but they are nevertheless just as enjoyable. We have interviews with the lead actor Ian McCulloch, who also sings us a pretty catchy song titled “Down By The River”, and Sherryl Buchanan shows up to give us her experience on the flick. However, the features I enjoyed the most are the ones on the special FX, with both Rosario Prestopino and Maurizio Trani. Interesting sidenote-Trani worked on the “awesome” Troll 2.
Now, the only thing that confused me about the whole package was the lack of commentaries. I am used to seeing commentaries on most releases I review, so it threw me for a loop when there wasn’t a single one provided for either movie. However, it is a tiny nitpick given the substantial amount of features offered.
Bonus offer! The first 5000 copies of the Blu-ray come with a very fancy barf bag! Also included was a poster for the Doctor Butcher M.D. artwork.
- • DISC 1 DOCTOR BUTCHER MD
- • Featurette: Butchery & Ballyhoo: Interview with Aquarius Releasing’s Terry Levine
- • Featurette: Down On The Deuce: Nostalgic Tour Of 42nd Street With Temple Of Shock’s Chris Poggiali and Filmmaker Roy Frumkes
- • Roy Frumkes’ Segment Of Unfinished Anthology Film ‘Tales That Will Tear Your Heart Out’
- • Featurette: The Butcher Mobile: Interview with Gore Gazette Editor & Butcher Mobile Barker Rick Sullivan
- • Featurette: Cutting Doctor Butcher: Interview with Editor Jim Markovic
- • Illustrated Essay: Experiments With A Male Caucasian Brain (…and other memories of 42nd Street) by Gary Hertz
- • Theatrical Trailer
- • Video Release Trailer 1
- • Video Release Trailer 2
DISC 2 ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST
- • Featurette: Voodoo Man: Interview With Star Ian McCulloch
- • Featurette: Blood Of The Zombies: Interview With FX Master Rosario Prestopino
- • Featurette: Filmmaker Enzo Castellari Remembers His Father Director Marino Girolami
- • Featurette: Sherry Holocaust: Interview With Actress Sherryl Buchanan
- • Featurette: Neurosurgery Italian Style – Interview With FX Artist Maurizio Trani
- • Featurette: New York Filming Locations Then Vs. Now. A look at the Big Apple locales as they are today
- • Audio Bonus: Ian McCulloch Sings “Down By The River”
- • International Trailer
- • German Trailer
Severin Films Blu-ray release of Doctor Butcher M.D. is going to land on several top Blu-ray lists. If I did one, it certainly would be near number one. As for the actual movies themselves? They are laughable gore romps, which means they will be amazing to most horror fans. I had a blast with this release, and I think you will as well. Pick it up today!