Director – Lucio Fulci
Cast – Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo, Antonella Interlinghi, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Daniela Dora, Fabrizio Jovine
Release Year – 1980
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Lucio Fulci, also known by horror fans as “The Godfather of Gore”, is one of horror’s premier Italian directors. Just one year after his classic film “Zombi(aka Zombi 2)”, he gave us “City of the Living Dead”, the first part of his “Death Trilogy” which includes “The Beyond’, and “The House By The Cemetary”. Aided by awesome gore and the usual classic Fulci musical score, this is a great watch for lovers of Italian zombie mayhem.
In the town of Dunwich, New England, a priest hangs himself in a cemetery, which then opens a gate to hell. Strange deaths begin to happen around the town, and the dead begin to rise. A young psychic named Mary sees a vision of these horrific events during a séance, and along with NYC reporter Peter Bell(Christopher George from “Pieces“!), heads to the town of Dunwich to try and close the gate. When they arrive they team up with another couple, psychiatrist Jerry and his patient Sandra, and the four of them try valiantly to close the gate before All Saints Day, which would all the dead in the world to rise.
I have always been a fan of religious horror, and horror that throws in religion, especially when it involves the Catholic church. So naturally, I was very much into this film’s plot given it begins with a priest hanging himself in a cemetery, and opening a gate to hell. It’s an awesome plot, and although it tends to get a bit confusing and/or ridiculous at times, somehow Fulci still finds a way to make this film enjoyable. The atmosphere is great, especially the later scenes in the film involving the mausoleum our characters break into. Fulci’s direction is great, and he gives us many memorable scenes…all having to do with gory deaths of course! The “vomiting” scene has to be one of horror’s coolest kills ever, and it was made even more awesome when Italian director and former Dario Argento protégé Michele Saovi was killed shortly after by having his brain ripped out the back of his skull. F*cking awesome! We get a lot more of those kills, and it made this a really fun watch given I had never seen zombies use that type of kill before. In the convoluted zombie sub-genre, it’s always nice to see something new.
As I mentioned earlier, this film does suffer from some plot problems. It gets confusing at times, and some scenes honestly don’t seem to make any sense at all. Fortunately, the direction during those scenes is great, and manages to somewhat makeup for the plot holes.
Overall, this is a really cool horror flick that I recommend to fans of Fulci and the zombie sub-genre. We get some great kills and nice zombie action. Plus who doesn’t love a trilogy?