Paura nella città dei morti viventi Film Details
Overview: A reporter and a psychic race to close the Gates of Hell after the suicide of a clergyman caused them to open, allowing the dead to rise from their graves.
Tagline: And the dead shall rise and walk the earth!
Review: No figure in the horror film genre is as divisive as Lucio Fulci. After watching one or two of his films, viewers tend to move into one of two camps. One side hails Fulci as a master of terror, a man who upped the gore quotient in his films while creating wonderfully atmospheric pictures. For these people, Fulci is right up there with the likes of Dario Argento as one of the best filmmakers ever to emerge from Italy. The other camp sneers at these claims, pointing to the plodding pace of his films, the use of extreme gore to camouflage plot holes, and the director’s inability to draw good performances out of his cast as evidence of mediocrity. Initially, I enjoyed Fulci’s films, specifically “Zombie,” “The Beyond,” and “The New York Ripper” because I did not know any better. When I came on the scene, you went to Fulci to feed your craving for gore. What a difference a few years exploring the genre makes! While I will not go so far as to remove Uncle Lucio from my play list altogether, I have seen enough of his films to realize he is not a cinematic genius. He is at best a good director, at worst an abysmal one, and there are plenty of examples of bad film-making in this director’s filmography. “The Gates of Hell” aka “City of the Living Dead,” however, is one of the good ones; a gore soaked classic that finds Fulci at the height of his powers. It’s a mess of a film about a bunch of unfortunate souls mixed up in the strange goings on in a little town called Dunwich. As we learn in the opening sequences of the movie, a priest hangs himself in a cemetery and, either willingly or unwillingly, opens a portal to Lucifer’s lair. At the same time, a sance in New York City causes Mary Woodhouse (Italian exploitation veteran Catriona MacColl) to learn of the priest’s horrific action. She screams repeatedly and then promptly dies. When the cops show up to sort out the mess, flames shoot out of the floor and the psychic in charge of the sance launches into some arcane hokum about a certain ancient tome, the Book of Eibon, and the danger it presents to humanity. A reporter by the name of Peter Bell (Christopher George) also arrives on the scene hoping to grab the scoop of a lifetime only to find the cops closemouthed about the nonsense going on in the apartment. Stymied, he heads off to the cemetery to see Mary’s grave–those funerals sure take place fast in the Big Apple–only to discover that Woodhouse is very much alive. In Dunwich, strange events start popping up with frightening regularity. A mirror shatters and a wall cracks in half at a local tavern, scaring the bejeezus out of the town drunks. Local shrink Gerry (Carlo De Mejo) soon finds himself caught up in events when a few members of the tin foil helmet brigade show up and start rambling about the dead rising from the grave. Of course, he thinks they’re nuts at first until people start disappearing. A couple of kids out for a night of smooching run into the deceased priest in a scene you’ll never forget, and a few other wretches meet nasty ends as we learn that, indeed, the dead seem to have risen for a quick stroll. Not only are they tearing the living to shreds, they also can pop in and out of reality at the drop of a hat, spray clouds of maggots through windows, and generally make a real nuisance out of themselves. By the time Bell and Woodhouse arrive on the scene to join forces with Gerry, Dunwich is about to burst at the seams. Oh, I almost forgot: a local weirdo named Bob (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) runs around trying to avoid taking the blame for the disappearances. The movie ends on a completely pointless note. Pointless might be the best word to describe this Fulci outing, since the plot is as thin as an onionskin, but “City of the Living Dead” is one of his most notable films. Thanks to an atmosphere of pervasive doom so thick you could cut it with a knife and gore ramped up to levels that stagger the imagination, this movie is a must see for the die-hard horror fan. Truly, Fulci outdid himself with this nihilistic picture. Two of the gore scenes in particular, the drill bit through the head and the notoriously grotesque gut puke (called “The Devil’s Spew” on the chapter selection!) will leave you gasping for breath. Heck, this movie even sports a couple of nifty scenes where people start bleeding from the eyes! Oh yeah! It’s great, chunk blowing fun that requires multiple viewings to take it all in. The rest of the film might make you wince as well, but for different reasons. Fulci’s famous eye zooms are here in full force, as is an annoying kid character by the name of John-John whose participation in the idiotic conclusion should require a doctoral dissertation to discern its meaning. Too, the dialogue and acting generally tank. But who cares when you’ve got gore spraying across the screen every five minutes?
Duration: 93 min
Also known as: City of the Living Dead,Frayeurs,Pavor na Cidade dos Zumbis,Ein Zombie hing am Glockenseil,Paura nella città dei morti viventi,Город живых мертвецов,地獄の門,Ein Toter hing am Glockenseil,Grad živih mrtvaca,Η πόλη των ζωντανών νεκρών,I poli ton zontanon nekron,Holtak városa,Zombiernes by,La ciudad de los muertos vivientes,Twilight of the Dead,Ta zombi xanarhontai,Os Mistérios da Cidade Maldita,Las puertas del infierno,Jigoku no kado,The Gates of Hell,Miasto żywej śmierci,Staden med levande döda,Die Stadt der lebenden Toten,Градът на живите мъртви,Zombik városa,Fear in the City of the Living Dead,Τα ζόμπι βγήκαν από τον τάφο τους,Pánico En La Ciudad De Los Muertos Vivientes,Τα ζόμπι ξανάρχονται,Miedo en la ciudad de los muertos vivientes,Ta zombi vgikan apo ton tafo tous,Pater Thomas,Eine Leiche hängt am Glockenseil