Mystery, science fiction and horror fuel this pulse-pounding supernatural thriller from Italian director Pupi Avati. Not your usual zombie film, but a thought-provoking puzzler steeped in ancient mysteries, "Zeder" will ma... more »ke you believe the dead can walk again. Stefano, a budding novelist, receives the innocent gift of a used typewriter from his wife on their wedding anniversary. While changing the ribbon, he discovers the typed imprint of writing left by the previous owner. Fascinated by this startling essay, Stefano uncovers the experiments of scientist Paolo Zeder whose claims of places where death ceases to exist intrigue the young writer. Obsessed with finding the truth about Zeder's theories, Stefano is led on a terrifying journey where he is confronted with an occult conspiracy to reanimate the dead!« less
"A rare and mysterious gem, ZEDER is a wonderful find for discriminating horror fans. Subtle, serious, atmospheric, intelligent, and woefully underrated, the film is one of the best kept secrets of the horror genre, largely due to its having been deceptively marketed on home video. Hidden behind moronic gut-muncher zombie box art, it disappointed those in search of cheap, bloody thrills, and was passed over without a second glance by most who could have appreciated it.
After one of the best prologues to be found anywhere in fantasy cinema, ZEDER never degenerates into genre cliche. Maintaining a palpable aura of mystery to the end, it owes more to Borges and the smart supernatural investigation stories of M.R. James than it does to Stephen King. King's 'Pet Sematary' inevitably comes up in discussions of ZEDER due to their suspiciously similar conclusions: I don't know who got there first, but ZEDER has a permanent place in my collection, and if I never see 'Pet Sematary' again it will be too soon.
So can someone explain to me why this DVD release, that was so welcome and so unexpected, is not only full frame, but appears to have been mastered from the ugly videotape of the butchered American version, 'Revenge Of The Dead'?
Glad as I am to be able to add this film to my DVD collection, this edition is a real disappointment: honestly, if you're going to release a film like this one, in this format, wouldn't it make sense to keep in mind who its likely audience is, and what their expectations are likely to be? There really is no excuse for this kind of thing when Anchor Bay has been showing us how it should be done for a number of years now - though rarely with a film the calibre of this one. Making this even more disappointing is the fact that there has since been a European DVD release that reportedly contains a glorious widescreen print.
Having said that, it would be a mistake to miss ZEDER."
Great Film - Lackluster DVD
frankenberry | Los Angeles, CA USA | 06/17/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"... --this is truly a great little horror picture...one of the most underrated in euro-horror cinema. It is literally creepy and the unravelling of the narrative is way more mysterious and thrilling than "Pet Sematary" which later covered some of the same territory. Unfortunately, when this film was originally released on video in the US it was retitled "Revenge of the Dead" and was marketed to appear like a gut-munching zombie picture. Many viewers may have been disappointed when they found out there was no blood or gore and instead they were watching a stylishly unique and intelligent thriller that required them to pay attention. At least this new DVD retains the original "Zeder" title and markets it for what it is. That said, the DVD is quite disappointing in this full-frame release with no extras. The film also looks very grainy (the old video release looked better!) and, most startling, there are some slight horizontal "video stretch" marks in some of the later scenes! (I have checked 2 separate DVDs of this title and they are identical). Could this transfer have been taken from a video master? It sure appears to have been considering such video drop-out. Still, I must say it's a required purchase, flaws and all. "Zeder" on DVD....this is truly an amazing period for euro-horror fans."
K-Zones and zombies
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 12/07/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Italian director Pupi Avati's "Zeder" has received significant criticism from many horror film aficionados who thought that a picture about reanimated corpses should resemble Lucio Fulci's "Zombie" or the George Romero undead trilogy. A more attentive viewer adequately schooled in the subtleties of Italian horror films should quickly recognize that "Zeder" is a cerebral look at the living dead, a movie that moves beyond splatter effects and shambling creatures in an attempt to scare the socks off its viewers. Steeped in oppressive atmosphere and weird science, Avati's film achieves a measure of uniqueness even as it uses plot elements found in such diverse movies as "Pet Semetary" and "The Exorcist." Personally, I think Avati's "The House with the Laughing Windows" is light years ahead of "Zeder," but that doesn't mean this film lacks interesting ideas and, even if they do not always work, a few attempts to craft very scary scenes. In short, you should probably look elsewhere if your interest lies in exploding heads or crude tracheotomies performed by lumbering, undead brutes. If you want to think a little bit, check out "Zeder."The film opens in 1950s France, where a grim discovery made in the basement of a ostensibly haunted mansion turns out to be the body of the long missing Paolo Zeder. Although we don't learn much about this man's work until later in the film, the discovery of this scientist's corpse is of great interest to many people. How Zeder got here and why a young girl encountered a supernatural emanation over the exact spot where the police discovered the corpse initially begs explanation. Avati uses the opening sequences of the film to set the tone for the film, and what a tone it is! The house rumbles and bangs ominously as though haunted by a thousand ghosts. The basement where Zeder and the young girl turn up is a ghastly place heavy with menace. You know after just a few minutes that this film has the potential to be a very fearsome adventure. Flash forward into early 1980s Italy where Stefano, an aspiring writer, and his sexy girlfriend Alessandra live. In order to celebrate an anniversary, Alessandra gives Stefano a nifty electric typewriter. Her boyfriend is quite happy with the gift and sets out to start writing when he discovers an anomaly on the ribbon cartridge that came with the gift. A quick investigation of this ribbon reveals that someone, probably the last person who owned the typewriter, wrote a most unusual report about some weird thing called K-zones and how the barriers of death will be broken down forever. Intrigued, Stefano quickly launches a wider inquiry into the origins of the strange message. His sleuthing takes him and his girlfriend into a world few could imagine. It turns out that Paolo Zeder discovered specific places on the planet where the dead can rise from their graves. Elated, Stefano further learns that the typewriter belonged to a priest who once lived in Italy. Dragging along the increasingly reluctant Alessandra, Stefano digs into this man's background and soon learns that a group of researchers from France are working in the same region where this priest lived. Stefano witnesses first hand how the K-zones work, and when an act of treachery takes the life of his beloved Alessandra, our hero resorts to the sort of behavior exhibited in a Stephen King novel with the same horrific results."Zeder" is definitely a cut above your typical Italian horror film. The soundtrack, done by none other than "Cannibal Holocaust" composer Riz Ortolani, throbs and bangs away with a sense of desperate abandon. The acting, mainly from Gabriele Lavia as Stefano and Anne Canovas as the beautiful Alessandra, works about as well as you could expect from an Italian film. I probably wouldn't have cast Lavia in the lead role, as he is a rather bland figure for such a big part. The biggest drawback with "Zeder" is the lousy DVD transfer, which often obscures scenes in a slight haze of grain and gives the movie a cheap look. Moreover, I thought the pacing lagged in a few places, especially during Stefano's lengthy investigations into the priest who owned the typewriter. Overall, however, I liked "Zeder" and thought the idea of K-zones an intriguing one. I even laughed in a few places, like the scene where Stefano watches the laughing corpse on the monitor. A slap in the face to Fulci and Lenzi fans, perhaps, but Pupi Avati's film should find a few stalwart souls who will see something in it despite its absence of over the top gore."
The Barriers of Death
Jeffrey Leach | 04/08/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"France, 1956: In the cathedral city of Chartres, a young girl is tormented by poltergeist-like activities. She descends to the cellars beneath her house, and is attacked by a spectral shape. She is found there later, unconscious, badly injured. Beneath the ground where the mysterious attack occurred, the girl's rescuers uncover the body of a man named Paolo Zeder. . . .Italy, 1983: In the university city of Bologna, Stefano, a writer, receives an anniversary present from his wife, Alexandra. She has purchased an electric typewriter for him, which she found at an auction. Stefano begins using the typewriter, but has to change the ribbon first. By chance, his gaze falls on certain words imprinted on the old ribbon. He transcribes these words, which seem to comprise a letter and notes for a report. The words include the suggestive phrase: "The barriers of death shall at last be destroyed."Stefano takes his transcriptions to Professor Quesia, one of his college instructors. Quesia believes the letter and notes refer to the strange theories of Paolo Zeder, an occult researcher who disappeared decades before. According to Quesia, Zeder believed in the existence of K-Zones, certain sites where the normal laws of time, death, and decay are suspended. Zeder felt that it was possible to bring the dead back to life in K-Zones.Stefano determines that the typewriter formerly belonged to a priest named Luigi Costa. Attempting to learn more about Costa, Stefano and Alexandra travel to the small town of Spina. Here they discover an old Etruscan cemetery and an abandoned building that was formerly a school where Costa had taught once. Stefano suspects that the cemetery and school may be the sites of K-Zones, which Costa learned about somehow.Unknown to Stefano, a French group, centered at Chartres, has been pursuing research on Zeder's theories in the Spina area. Stefano slips into the former school building and discovers scientific equipment and video materials used by the French group there. He takes one of the video cassettes with him, and then asks Alexandra to return to Bologna and show the tape to Professor Quesia.Unfortunately, Quesia himself is an agent of the French group, whose members are determined to keep their knowledge and experiments secret at all costs. Alexandra is killed, and her body is returned to the hotel room in Spina where Stefano is staying.Overcome by grief, Stefano takes Alexandra's body into the nearby K-Zone and buries her there. Later, she returns-but the resurrection process has changed her into a thing of soulless evil. . . .Zeder offers more in the way of plot and less in the way of gratuitous gore and sex than is common in Italian horror movies from this period. The K-Zone concept is an intriguing one, although it's not quite clear what happens to those who are revived in this fashion. (They seem to retain little of their former humanity.) Stefano is not a particularly engaging protagonist, and the French group seems too omnipresent, but still, Zeder shows some originality and occasionally evokes a strong atmosphere of supernatural dread and menace."
"Kai-zons", the Living Dead Return!
Oslo Jargo | FINLAND | 12/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
This is a very un-typical horror film which makes it quite refreshing and interesting. For most of the beginning I was quite enthralled by the pacing and the effort of the protagonist to reach some sort of conclusion. The start of the film shows us a house in Italy in the early 1920's and it is haunted by some horrendous and malicious ghost who has recently killed an old hag, next comes a clairvoyant and a scientist who walk into the basement where the girl clairvoyant assumes the identity of the dead man from a previous life. Once they find the bones of the man, they find a wallet and it reveals that the man was 'Edward Zeder', an albino, lunatic-philosopher who had believed in "Kai-zons", areas which were places where death had no value, this is an ancient idea which stems from the Persians and the Greeks.
Arrive in Italy in the 1970's where a struggling writer who smokes too much is using a typewriter and he finds that the ribbon has some used text upon it and he types up a few papers from what he finds and has a mystery upon his hands. He goes through the usual odds and ends in an attempt to crack the mystery of the "Kai-zons" and he visits a small village where there is a cemetery and all sorts of weird people. The end of the film, in which his girlfriend dies and he takes her to a "Kai-zon" to bring her back, is a result from the lack of his willingness to have loved a living creature while she was alive and it is quite expected when she eats his neck. This is a very good film and the director is quite capable of pushing a story of interest along. For those of you expecting a zombie film, this isn't it. "