Welcome to the Zombie Club Hall of Fame - a list of mighty warriors who roam the micro-budgeted, barren landscapes of the mostly Italian B movie universe. What a great place it is. And what a great bunch of characters we've met on our travels. Sadly, not everyone goes away with a prize. Well, no-one really walks off with a prize, but you know what I mean. I feel such guilt at not including so many Zombie Club legends on this list, for example, where's Chuck Norris? Claudio Cassinelli? Fred 'The Hammer' Williamson? Harold 'Odd Job' Sekata? Tom Atkins (who's had his very own Top 10 so he won't mind)? William Shatner? Bobby Rhodes? These guys have all kicked butt just for our entertainment over the last few years, and if this was a Top 20, they would be guaranteed a place in this most Holy of ceremonies.
Not everyone can be here, sadly, but the guys who did make it on are true legends in our eyes. From King of the Polizios, Tomas Milian, to our old friend and all-time 'best ever poor man's Chuck Norris', Al Cliver, they're all here, together for the first time - all I ask is that they all get together and make the ultimate Zombie Club movie. Wow...
10 .Tomas Milian Ok, so he may not have been featured in as many ZCs as some who didn’t make it to the list, but this guy is the business. First appearing during Giallo Night in Fulci’s brilliant Don’t Torture a Duckling, he subsequently shocked us as crazed criminal Giulio Sacchi in Umberto Lenzi’s ultra violent exercise, Almost Human. Here, he made such an impact that it was difficult to resist inviting him back, this time for heroic antics as Rambo (yes, I do mean ‘Rambo’) in Lenzi’s Syndicate Sadists - a movie more fun than it has any right to be. Milian wears a wicked red hat, drives his mean machine to blinding funk, rescues kidnapped kids, and generally kicks serious ass.
Milian is the son of a Cuban general who eventually moved to Italy to get ahead in acting and, as with a few others on this list, started out in Westerns before becoming involved with a plethora of polizia movies, plenty of which are well worth checking out (Emergency Sqaud, Free Hand for a Tough Cop and The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist to name a few).
9 .Romano Puppo Known as ‘Trash’s dad’ to us, Romano Puppo tends to appear out of nowhere in a LOT of movies, and we’re always glad to see him. A busy actor, he featured in Castellari crime flicks like The Big Racket, Street Law and The Herion Busters before getting his ZC credentials with Big Alligator River, The Last Shark, Bronx Warriors 2 and 2019.
A man who clearly became known for his parts in Italian Westerns (he was even in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - respect!), he subsequently busied himself with Italian crime gems like Contraband, The Big Racket and The Heroin Busters. Considering he generally looked like the kind of man capable of taking a few beatings, it’s perhaps no surprise that he was also stunt co-ordinator on Orca: The Killer Whale. Sadly, any other info on the internet remains very sketchy. I could make stuff up, but i won't.
Here he is helping hero Parcival (who you should recognise) in 2019.
8 .Giovanni Lombardo Radice (aka John Morghen) Radice doesn’t like his horror movies as much as we do. In fact he doesn’t share our love of nasty movies one little bit. Maybe that's because the Dennis Bergkamp look-a-like, known as ‘the perennial victim’, always seems to meet particularly nasty slices of death. Who could forget that impressive set-piece involving a huge fixed drill, his head, and an angry man in Fulci’s City of the Living Dead? Not me. That'll teach him for being a dirty perv.
John also had a role in Deodato's very nasty The House on the Edge of the Park, in which he plays a low-life scumbag sidekick to low-life scumbag David Hess when they ruin some posh people's evening via the medium of rape and cutting. Look out for him also in Umberto Lenzi's sickening exercise in filth Cannibal Ferox, where he plays a complete dickhead called Mike Logan - a role he apparently still regrets accepting.
7 .Marco di Gregorio (aka Mark Gregory) Like his countryman Pierluigi Conti, I'll wager Mark Gregory doesn't make it into many Top Ten lists. Or any other lists for that matter, except maybe lists for tightest ever jeans, because you can bet bottom dollar that his gonads were damaged to some degree while shooting Castelarri's futuristic hokum.
The man with the tight jeans has also had the honour of two ZC's in his, er, honour, firstly with his flame-throwing pals (and alongside legend Vic Morrow) in Bronx Warriors 1 & 2, and then again in Thunder in Rambo Rip-Off Night, where he shared the ZC throne with the Sopkiw (see below). According to Fred ‘The Hammer’ Williamson, the reason why Mark walks funny has nothing whatsoever to do with his jeans, but his sexual orientation, and hence great effort was made to suppress his nancy strutting in front of Castellari’s lens. Obviously, the effort wasn’t great enough because he still ‘walks funny’. And he doesn’t look in the least bit hard.
6 .Luigi Montefiori (aka George Eastman) Known to us as George but his parents as Luigi, this ZC legend first impressed us as ‘Big Ape’ in Sergio Martino’s Escape to New York wank, 2019: After the Fall of New York. The 6'9" tall former advertising artist boasts a reasonably diverse repertoir, having done a lot of Westerns, but is most (in)famous perhaps for his gut munching shenanigans in Joe D’Amato’s Anthropophagous (which he also co-wrote).
However it is his post-apocalyptic hi-jinks that first caught our attention, with the aforementioned Martino flick, and then shortly afterwards with Castellari's The New Barbarians, in which he plays the sodomising baddie, 'One'. Is this because there can be only one? Probably. The Eastman went on to wow us with as ‘Golan’ in this list’s common denominator movie (yes that’ll be Bronx Warriors again), before we saw him in Lamberto Bava’s big gunfest Blastfighter (starring our pal and ZC King nominee Michael Sopkiw). Did he change his name to George Eastman because he was a keen photography enthusiast? You tell me. For grade ‘A’, uncut Eastman, check out Mario Bava’s 'lost' masterpiece Rabid Dogs.
5 .George Kennedy Big George is the only Oscar-winning actor to make this list, and is probably the only actor in this list to even be nominated. But we still love him, even though he is officially ‘very good’ at all that ‘proper’ acting stuff – something we don’t always see a lot of at ZC. In fact hardly ever, but that’s the way we like it, strangely enough.
Now, Big George’s career nosedived a bit after his Oscar winning heyday, which is the reason he makes the Top 10. George made his first ZC appearance as Roy McLean in Jeff Lieberman's brilliant shocker Just Before Dawn but that when eatmybrains.com was embryonic and hence wasn't published. Next, George appeared as Mr. Doctor Graves in horror spoof, Wacko ("Just mowing the lawn, dear!"), then also in Radioactive Dreams as well as the Chuck vehicle The Delta Force, where he plays a nice friendly priest passenger, whose white head you can see a mile off, towering well above his normal-sized fellow passengers. We're not done with Big George here at Zombie Club. Not by a long shot. The possibilities are endless. We love you, George.
Here he is being a nice helpful kinda guy in Just Before Dawn.
4 .Bruce Campbell Ah...the Chin. Mr Campbell represents the hard-working, non-Italian actors in our Zombie Club Hall of Fame. And boy, don’t he deserve it. The B-movie king and author of the hilarious If Chins Could Kill is of course best known as Ash in Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series, but has done a lot more besides Deadite-pummeling. The main Brucie Bonus of the last few years was without question Don Cascellari's superbly fresh Bubba Ho-tep, in which he played an ageing Elvis - arguably a movie so good it has no place at ZC, but we make exceptions for Bruce because we love the guy.
Much less of a Brucie Bonus is Mindwarp (don't get me started), but he came up trumps with Bill Lustig's Maniac Cop alongside Tom Atkins in 1988. Bruce turned up again more recently at Zombie Club with his hugely enjoyable directorial debut, The Man with the Screaming Brain, in which he gets to direct himself alongside cult legend Stacy Keach (who plays - get this - Dr. Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov). Good old Bruce seems to be busier than ever and that's no bad thing - a genuinely funny guy who deserves the roles, he just keeps getting better and better.
Aided by his striking good looks, he managed to land a handful (almost!) of great parts, not least as warrior of the spaghetti wasteland hero Parcival in 2019, in which he gets to tussle with fellow ZC legend George Eastman. Come to think of it, the same can be said for Lamberto Bava's Blastfighter. It's a very small world, the Italiano B-movie universe, but I still love getting lost in it. Mr Sopkiw gave up acting due to lack of success and he would be no doubt very surprised to see himself included in this Top 10. Sources claim he was imprisoned by the DEA for shipping marijuana after his navigation career but has since found success with 'Miron Glass', a company that makes special glass containers to protect products with a high bio-energetic value. Wow, Sopkiw is the Man. In Blastfighter he was called 'Tiger' Sharpe, you know. Great name.
Here he is as Parcival (he didn’t get such a cool name that time eh?) in 2019.
2 .Pier Luigi Conti (aka Al Cliver) This is likely to be the only list Al Cliver is likely to get on, but that’s fine with us, because we here at Zombie Club think of Al as one of the family. He never did get to have his very own Zombie Club (which I’m sure he’s learning to live with) but has easily been the most regularly featured actor in our hazy gatherings, but these aren't all starring roles, which is why Mr. Saxon gets the top spot. And that says a few things about the type of movie we watch at ZC: mostly Italian and mostly not the types of movie Empire magazine would give positive reviews for.
But we love Al Cliver, because not only is he in one of the very best zombie flicks out there (yes, I am talking about Zombie Flesh Eaters), he also starred in Endgame and Devil Hunter when not appearing in such Fulci gibberish as The Beyond, The Black Cat and Rome 2033. If you want to see Cliver in what could be officially described as a 'low point', then check out Jess Franco’s gibberish classic The Devil Hunter, where he plays a Vietnam vet sent to the jungle to rescue a chick from some kind of stupid demon with ping-pong ball eyes. During one of the film’s many ‘walking slowly through the jungle’ scenes, Al accidentally trips on some branches, falls over, after which Franco’s camera pans away from the mishap. He kept it in the film though, so we could all see it. Aren't Italian B movies just the best...
Here he is helping David Warbeck make some sense of Fulci’s The Beyond.
1 .John Saxon (aka The Saxon) One of the very few actors to have two Zombie Clubs devoted especially to them (at the second we watched FIVE of his movies!), Mr Saxon really is as good as it gets. Best known for the role of ‘Roper’ in the 1973 Hollywood Bruce Lee vehicle, Enter the Dragon, he remains a hard working actor with huge cult appeal, not only from his shag-happy, super-smooth kung fu shenanigans, but also for his many 'B' (for Bread and Butter) movie delights, like, err, The Bees, Cannibal Apocalypse (which features another of tonight's legends, John Morghen), Fists of Steel, Tenebrae, Battle Beyond the Stars and his lackluster directorial offering, whose title suggests more than it delivers, Zombie Death House.
Whether you want a gambling, hard-kicking ladies man or someone who knows how to talk to bees, Saxon is your man, and you can bet your jumper his wardrobe won’t ever let you down. He looks great in a tracksuit (Cannibal Apocalypse), smooth in a hat (Tenebrae) and plain iconic in his standard issue roll-neck sweater (everything else).
Here he is sporting a marvellous moustache and standard Saxonwear roll-neck sweater in Umberto Lenzi’s The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist.