I don’t expect Italian horror movies to have too many black people, but when they revolve around zombies on a Caribbean island, as Zombi 2 does (Zombi being the name Dawn of the Dead was released under in Italy), I’d expect more than a few. I should learn to lower my expectations. The island in question is fictitious — Matul — so the filmmakers can make up whatever racial demographics they want (i.e., whatever fits the extras they could find to play the locals).
To be fair, there’s actually little time spent on the islanders, and frankly, when their flesh is all rotten, race is hard to determine. There’s one main black character, Lucas (Dakkar), who acts as an assistant to the doctor (Richard Johnson) trying to cure the zombification disease destroying the island. And he almost doesn’t die! The doc dismisses Lucas’s belief that voodoo has something to do with it. Doesn’t he hear the drums that pound every time the zombies appear?
Anyway, any minor quibbles one might have with the casting are just that: minor. The fact is that Zombie is one of the best, most skin-crawling, hand-over-eye (Or into eye, as is so popular in Italian horror. Weirdos.) zombie films ever. It’s certainly too graphic for some tastes (“Grandma, have I got a movie for you!”), but there’s little doubt why horror fans worldwide find it such a visceral classic.