City of the Living Dead

03/13/2018 07:23

Film: City of the Living Dead (Paura nella città dei morti viventi)

Year: 1980

Director: Lucio Fulci

Writer: Lucio Fulci and Dardano Sacchetti

Starring: Christopher George, Catriona MacColl and Carlo De Mejo



This film begins in the village of Dunwich. We are in the cemetery where a priest, Fabrizio Jovine, hangs himself. We then shift to New York where some people are having a séance. Catriona MacColl is in a trance and she sees the death of Jovine. She then goes into a coma and looks like she has died. Some police interrogate her friend, Adelaide Aste, but do not believe the warnings she is telling. She claims that what MacColl saw caused one of the gates of Hell to open. There is a reporter, Christopher George, who is interested what has happened.

Dunwich then starts to have weird things happen in it. There is a scene in a bar where a mirror is broken and then the wall cracks. The owner thinks there is logical explanation to how both happened, but his two patrons flee thinking otherwise.

Also in this village we have Carlo De Mejo, who is talking to Janet Agren. She is going through some issues she is having and he is trying to help her with how to cope with them. His girlfriend, Antonella Interlenghi comes in. They all talk for a minute and we learn that Interlenghi is going to see Giovanni Lombardo Radice, who is the odd one in the village. Quite a bit of people don’t care for him and are distrustful.

George still trying to find the truth of the story involving MacColl visits the cemetery where they are burying her. They stop as they’ve only thrown a little bit of dirt on her casket. As George is going to leave, MacColl wakes up. She screams and beats at the top of the casket, blooding her hands to flee. George thinks he hears something, but can’t be sure.

Back in Dunwich, Interlenghi arrives to where Radice lives. She is attacked by a zombie like creature. A couple inside of their vehicle who are making out hear something. They turn the lights on and they see Jovine hanging. His body disappears and then reappears outside of their vehicle. The two of them die pretty violent deaths.

According to Aste and the book of Enoch, the gate of hell that was opened in Dunwich needs to be closed before All Saints’ Day, which is rapidly approaching. If not, then the dead will walk the Earth. Dunwich is also built on top of those that were practicing witchcraft in Salem.

Will MacColl be freed before it is too late? Can the gate be closed before the world ends? Or will the dead walk the Earth just like the legend states?

This was a film that my father bought on VHS back in the day. My sister and I decided to watch it one day. For whatever reason we only got a few minutes in before we shut it off. I had heard that I really missed out on a gem from podcasts I listen to and when I was asked to appear on an episode that was covering this film, I finally got around to watching it. I can say that I’m really glad I did. This film does do some things really well. If you’ve ever read any of my other reviews, you know that for me stories of the film are really important. I love the concept that this priest killing himself in hallowed ground is the cause of a gate to hell opening. Part of me wants to know if he did this on purpose to open the gate. After some of the images in the film, I’m inclined to believe he knew. This isn’t a traditional zombie film, but Lucio Fulci might be the best director for zombies outside of George Romero himself. Now these are more like demons, but they still move like zombies and I thought it was great. The story is a little disjointed and some things just kind of happen, but the more I watch Italian films, I realize that was common for them. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the ending as it felt forced.

The acting in this film is alright. MacColl is really good as the psychic in this film. I’ve come to realize that she is in all three of the Gates of Hell trilogy and I’ve liked her in the films I’ve seen her in thus far. Everyone else in the film does come off as a little flat though. That could be in part due to some dubbing that was done. On top of that though, this film didn’t need to have great acting. It is more about the craziness you see on the screen, which I will get into next.

Fulci is great with zombies, but a lot of that is due to effects. Everything in this film was done practically and I loved almost all of it. There were some that I could tell was fake. Example is during the maggot scene, randomly some are stuck to the actors and you could clearly see that something was put there so they would stick. The effects were good enough overall to overshadow some of the bad spots. The make-up and look of the zombies were all great. The editing of the film had some issues for me, but I’m not entirely sure if it is due to the story or not. I think a lot of this was what I touched on above is Italian cinema at times didn’t really care about having a coherent story. This one isn’t as bad as some, but there were times I was confused. Finally the score of the film is really good. That is another thing with Fulci, he picks the right composers for his films as I enjoyed the eeriness of the selections for the scenes.

Now with that said, I would recommend seeing this film if you are into demon/zombie films. As I’ve touched on, this film is from Italy so keep in mind that the story might not flow perfectly, but it is much more about the effects and the score of the film. This does have good concepts, like I like that there are seven gates to hell in this world and this priest has opened one. The acting is decent for the most part, but I didn’t feel it hurts the film. The actors just kind of come off as flat. If this film sounds interesting, I would definitely give it a shot. I feel that this film is above average.


My Rating: 7 out of 10