Movie Review-City of the Living Dead

As people know Fulci to us old school horror fans is god. When I found out that Blue Underground was re-releasing this City of the Living Dead film, I had to see this again. The plot is simple a priest commits suicide in a cemetery and upon doing this his death opens the gates of hell. A lot of people may remember this title in midnight theaters across the US in the early 80’s as The Gates of Hell. Well, a séance gets messed up and Mary dies of fright, but is revived before being buried in her coffin. She tells of visions she had of what is coming, and that the key to save humanity is to shut the gates before the world is overrun by the spirits of the dead from hell. City is not your ordinary zombie film; it plays out more like a film about the occult and feeds on Fulci’s fascination with hell and the dead. This film has zombies sort of, they are not what you think of when you hear zombies; they are strong and vicious and very violent. They are not the sluggish shoot them in the brain and you can dodge them zombies. These zombies get their rocks off by yanking off any body part they can get a hold of, and they feed and eat in a very disturbing carnivorous way. And in certain times in the film, they can appear out of thin air. They have powers like spirits or demons possessed. Basically there is no place to run and hide from them.

What makes this one of the better Fulci films is that it leaves a lot to question, which makes the viewer like me, having to re-visit this dvd over and over to really interpret what is going on in the film. This film has so many scenarios that warrant repeat viewings like why did Mary die and not come back as a zombie? And were the other people in Dunwich also possessed, and their actions were a means to survive and not so much a fear of anything? This film is over 30 years old, well 32 to be exact and even by today’s bar in horror films, this film is pretty sick and disturbing. The dead in this film really up the gore factor because they not only tear limbs right off, they rip brains and scalps clean off the victims. And I think the scene with Father Thomas and his eyes bleeding will disturb some religious people. ( on a side note, to see the tubes feeding the blood in the scenes was hilarious, and shocking that this is the first time I noticed it) Then there is the gross out vomit scene that just really is more for shock then entertainment. And to think, today the vomit gore is a thing people still try to achieve; at least Fulci showed Lucifer Valentine how it is done. And in classic Fulci, the drill scene with the inching closer and closer that we get more and more tense or eager in anticipation depending on what kind of fan you are. And before the Sixth Sense director was even born probably, the opening line of the film was “I can see the dead”. To think how many films and people Fulci has inspired. If you are a Fulci fan there is no sell needed, you own this and all its different versions. If you are new to horror, I would say seek out all the Fulci you can, start with The Beyond and then Zombie and City of the Living Dead. This is horror 101. People like Fulci come along once in a lifetime, and lord knows we need more of them. If any director not only deserved to be in every hall of fame imagined it would be him, and he would own the first three floors of all of them.

10 out of 10