original title: Paura Nella Citta Dei Morti Viventi
aka: The Gates of Hell, Twilight of the Dead
Director: Lucio Fulci
Starring: Christopher George, Katriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo, Antonella Interlenghi, Giovanni Lombardo Radice
The Dead Shall Rise And Walk The Earth
A young woman named Mary is attending a séance where she is getting brutally visions of a Father Thomas that hangs himself at a cemetery in Dunwich. His action caused the gates of hell to open and these visions are too much for young Mary to handle and she dies of shock.
The journalist Peter Bell is investigating her death and while he is watching her burial he starts to hear noises coming from her casket. It turns out that she was not dead after all and when she later on tells him about Father Thomas and the gates of hell. They have to find a way to close it before the very next monday or else it will be open forever.
Lucio Fulci had just done his arguably biggest and best horror movie called Zombie Flesheaters before heading into his unofficial Gates of Hell trilogy with City of the Living Dead. While the title is obviously trying to cash in on the zombie craze created by Dawn of the Dead and Fulci’s own Zombie, this is basically a nightmare on celluloid. The gore is over the top, the atmosphere is dark and moody and the story makes very little sense.
Fulci fires off atrocities after atrocities here with heads getting drilled, storm of maggots flying into a livingroom covering the furnitures and the people in it, endless puking of intestines. Just all sorts of grueling scenes possible. He also does an amazing job in creating a nightmarish atmosphere and the violent effects work quite well for me. It also got a fantastic score by Fulci’s usual music guy at the time Fabio Frizzi (Contraband, Manhattan Baby) and the soundtrack is something that all horror fans should try to seek out.
The cast is good and consist of Katriona MacColl (The Beyond, House by the Cemtery), Christopher George (Day of the Animals, Enter The Ninja) and also cult legend Giovanni Lombardo Radice (Cannibal Apocalypse, House on the Edge of the Park) who gets the honor of having his head drilled in a truly gruesome scene and does do a good job with his part aswell.
City of the Living Dead is one the high points of italian horror movies of the 80’s for me. I think it’s even better than The Beyond which is a more known film from Fulci. If you are after a very gory, nightmarish movie with fun cult actors and a story that makes no sense then I think you will have a hard time finding a handful of movies more fun than this one.