City Of The Living Dead (1980)

DVD Cover (Blue Underground)
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Connections: The Gates Of Hell

In the small New England town of Dunwich, a priest commits suicide by hanging himself in the church cemetery which somehow opens the gates of hell allowing the dead to rise. Peter, a New York City reporter, teams up with a young psychic, named Mary, to travel to the town where they team up with another couple, psychiatrist Jerry and patient Sandra, to find a way to close the gates before All Saints Day or the dead all over the world will rise up and kill the living. --IMDb
Review by Tristan
Added: June 28, 2007
In the town of Dunwich, Massachusetts, a priest (Fabrizio Jovine) hangs himself in a cemetery, opening the Gates of Hell. At the same time in New York City, a sťance is taking place causing Mary (Catriona MacColl) to have a vision of the priest's demise. After much panic and screaming, she supposedly dies. The police arrive, the coroner takes her away, and just when the cops are convinced that there's something fishy going on, flames shoot out of the floor, and the psychic heading the sťance begins to babble on about the Book of Eibon, and the bane it is on humanity.

A reporter named Peter Bell (Christopher George) appears on the scene, hoping to get a great story. Instead, he is promptly ushered away, and being the good journalist he is, decides to investigate the grave of Mary Woodhouse, only hours after she seemingly passed away. What follows is a very memorable "buried alive" scene involving a pickax and some very fine camera work on Fulci's part.

After retrieving Mary from the grave, he is quite ready to believe her when she says that the Gates of Hell have opened up because a priest in another part of the country has killed himself. Seems reasonable. They decide to travel to Dunwich, where several strange and and frightening events have taken place. A local bar's mirror suddenly shatters and a large crack runs up the stone wall. Two teens out for a night of backseat fun receive anything but when the priest's ghost decides to have the girl throw up all her intestines and stomach. The priest quickly gains a dead follower, and the two wreak havoc on the town by spraying a room with maggots, tearing the back of people's heads off, popping in and out of thin air, terrifying the locals, and causing everyone an all around unpleasant time.

Fresh off the heels of Zombi 2, and the start to Fulci's unofficial "Gates of Hell" trilogy, City of the Living Dead is one of Fulci's most violent, repulsive, absorbing films, and I loved every minute of it. This is more of a visual nightmare movie than a story based film. There are a lot of bold, colorful shots, and the editing only seems choppy, but really gives an audience the feeling that they are witnessing a dream, more than a movie. The plot line is weak, and is mainly a way for Fulci to cram as many gory and eerie scenes into a movie as possible.

This movie is always referred to as one of Fulci's best, or his most notable film. While I do enjoy this movie, I see it as more of a transitional film. It contains certain elements of Zombi 2, being good vs. evil, but it also has a far more supernatural feel to it, and opened the door (no pun intended) for him to make his best film, The Beyond. Also, this is not a zombie film, in any way shape or form. The "zombies" are more ghost like, in that they can disappear and reappear wherever and whenever they want. Some zombies make a bit of an entrance in the catacombs towards the end of the film, making the dark corridors quite scary, but not enough to make this a "zombie film", as it is commonly referred to as. If you're looking for a horror movie with some great shots and memorable death scenes, I strongly endorse this one. If you're looking for a more plot driven and realistic horror film, watch this anyway, because really, why not?

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