Thursday, March 19, 2009

City of the Living Dead (1980, Lucio Fulci)


Have I mentioned how much I love Lucio Fulci? Probably not, but I do. I guess this makes it hard to objectively review his films, but I'll do my best. Wait, since when are my reviews objective? Oh yeah, never. So forget that. Let's start with how I came across Fulci's films. It all started back in my junior year of high school. After watching a slew of zombie movies (wisely beginning with Romero's Living Dead trilogy), my friend and I began hunting high and low for anything zombie related. He came across Lucio Fulci's Zombie 2 (which I soon found out was also Lucio Fulci's Zombie, but I'll get to that when I review that film). Anyway, we decided to watch it with one or two of our other friends and it was great. Years went by before I really thought about Lucio Fulci again. It wasn't until I stumbled upon a bargain priced copy of Fulci's Seven Doors of Death (a cut version of The Beyond) that made me want to see Zombie again. After watching it, I was hooked and a friend at work recommended Fulci's Gates of Hell (aka City of the Living Dead), which I soon picked up. Anyway, here goes my review.

You know what sucks? When some crazy priest hangs himself and causes the gates of hell to open. That's exactly what starts this film. A psychic named Mary Woodhouse (Catriona MacColl) dies during a seance after seeing visions of a priest hanging himself. Though after she is buried, we find out she wasn't actually dead. Peter Bell (Christopher George), a reporter investigating her death, saves her from suffocating in her casket and the two start searching for answers to what's going on. They find that the priest in Mary's vision hanged himself in a cemetery in the town of Dunwich, so they decide to travel there. They meet up with a psychiatrist and his patient and together they find out through the book of Enoch that the gates of hell have opened and they must close them before All Saint's Day or else zombies will take over the world.

Pretty intense huh? Fulci stops at nothing to make this one a classic. There are some slow points where it seems like nothing is happening but then all of a sudden - boom - someone's eyes start bleeding and they vomit their internal organs. That's the magic of Fulci. This movie would probably get a 3 out of 5 rating if not for a few scenes (including the one I just mentioned) that make the film a classic gorefest, courtesy of makeup effects master Gianetto De Rossi. Catriona MacColl is stunning to watch and Giovanni Lombardo Ridice is creepy as Bob, one of the film's classic victims. Overall, not a perfect film and nowhere near as great as Fulci's masterpieces Zombie or The Beyond, but still worth a watch.

RATING: 4/5



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