So... Zombi 2 is not a sequel. They just wanted to market it as a follow up to Dawn of the Dead in Italy where it was titled Zombi. Which still makes me laugh, it's such a cheap move. As far as its video nasty status goes this is by no means as bad as it's reputation when it comes to the violence. You get the usual biting and flesh eating stuff and obviously the infamous splinter in the eye sequence. While certainly hair raising it's hardly realistic looking so I don't see what the problem is. I guess it's just a product of being desensitized in the modern era, but even by the standards of 70s and 80s horror it's not that excessive. The movie itself has a certain amount of atmosphere and like a lot of these Italian horror releases there is a nice electronic score. The slow pacing early on mostly works even of they do have the ridiculous shark vs zombie scene. It offers creepy shock value only, and has zero social commentary. But what you get works unlike some of the other viewings here.
In a similar case of misleading titles, City of the Living Dead is not a zombie movie. While there are certainly more scenes of the dead rising and a finale set inside a crypt, they don't ever feature that much and the plot itself is more suited to it's alternate title The Gates of Hell. In fact they generally appear out of nowhere like ghosts and there are a lot of weird supernatural scenes of eyes bleeding and maggots flying through open windows. It even opens with a seance in which it is discovered (somehow) that a priest committing suicide will open the gate to hell on All Souls Day. For some reason. His motive is unknown. Which is the problem here, it's very incoherent and has many unexplained moments including the ending. Certain releases from Italy like Inferno do have a certain waking nightmare feeling that doesn't follow a standard narrative, but here it does suffer more for it when mystery elements and subplots are never explained or get introduced and forgotten.
Phenomena on the other hand explains a lot but still makes little sense. In a fascinating mix of apparently random ideas thrown together you get a murder mystery, a plot about talking to insects at a Swiss boarding school, sleepwalking, and a sub plot about Donald Pleasence as a wheelchair bound entomologist who lives with a chimpanzee helper. Once the killer is revealed it gets even crazier but all of this manages to be strangely entertaining. The real problem is their choice of music, and while there is a great original theme like other Dario Argento releases, several sequences have music like Iron Maiden playing over them which is just awkwardly out of place. Do you really need rock music over a body being carried to an ambulance? Maybe? The rationale behind all of this is a mystery but I guess they just couldn't decide what to leave out and went with everything.
As for things that are too simple for their own good, Demons 2 replays several moments from the original but never provides anything that interesting. With the first movie having a strange movie in a movie curse storyline, this time the residents of a tower block are watching what seems to be the sequel to that story... on their TVs... inside the sequel. Logic aside they just don't have enough wacky elements like the motorcycle showdown this time around. There are some very neat physical effects including a decayed body regenerating itself but the idea of people trapped in an apartment complex feels too pedestrian and it comes off as being stale overall.
PART 1 - PART 3