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June 20, 2012


Paura nella città dei morti viventi

by Franz Patrick

Paura nella città dei morti viventi (1980)
★ / ★★★★

Mary (Catriona MacColl), during a seance, was bombarded with images of a priest (Fabrizio Jovine) who committed suicide. This act opened up the Gates of Hell, caused deceased individuals to rise from their graves, and brutally kill whoever was around. Peter (Christopher George), a reporter, teamed up with Mary to find the town where the priest practiced, now a zombie with psychic powers, and stop him before All Saint’s Day. Written by Lucio Fulci and Dardano Sacchetti, “Paura nella città dei morti viventi,” also known as “City of the Living Dead” and “The Gates of Hell,” mainly relied on gore to disgust instead of building genuine tension to scare us. However, I was mostly able to overlook that particular shortcoming because I was in the mood for blood. The special effects, like having too much fog accompanied by a soundtrack which signaled that something scary was happening, and the visual effects, like the a appearing/disappearing priest hanging from a rope, ran rampant. It was just too much that it came off as though Lucio Fulci, the director, did not seem at all in control of his material. While some of it was creative (when was the last time you saw a movie about a zombie that could kill by staring intensely at its victim?), most of it was campy, not helped by the terrible dubbing especially in the beginning. There were three scenes that stood out to me. The first was when a corpse suddenly appeared in Emily’s kitchen. Emily (Antonella Interlenghi) thought she was going crazy so she called her psychologist (Carlo De Mejo) to make sure that she wasn’t just seeing things. When the psychologist came over, it turned out her mind wasn’t playing tricks on her at all. They left the body for minute and when they got back, it was no longer there. There was an unexpected comedy because when they realized that the body was gone, instead of running out of the house like normal people would, the two actually discussed their options: either the body was dragged away (which suggested there was another person in the house, most likely dangerous, who liked to play sick jokes) or the corpse walked away on its own. The second and third scenes were kills. The first was when the priest used his mind to force a girl to regurgitate her internal organs. It was disgusting and unbelievable but it was also quite amusing. The second involved a father who found his daughter with a boy (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) in suspicion of murder. Having no evidence whatsoever that the boy was a killer, the father took the boy’s head through a power drill. What I liked about that scene was, unlike most of the other scenes the film offered, it actually had tension. “City of the Living Dead,” at times unnecessary and mean-spirited especially with its extended scene involving a boy being terrorized by zombies, for better or worse, was an over-the-top interesting mess. At least the zombies didn’t go “Err… Oof… Grr!”

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jun 21 2012

    Although City of the Living Dead is one of my favorite Italian horror movies, I agree that your description of it as “an interesting mess” is an accurate one.

    • Jun 21 2012

      I wanted to like it because there were some scenes worth watching. But, in the end, I can’t say that I can recommend it to friends. However, for those who enjoy watching things that are out there, by all means! Hell yeah, psychic zombies!

      By the way, I think your website is really interesting, a lot of movies I’ve never heard of (which is excellent, I’m always up for something different). I added your link under horror. Hopefully, I’ll come across several gems.

      Thanks for visiting! :)

      • Jun 22 2012

        I like yours too. Nice design, especially the sidebar with the movie quotes. Have you seen the other movies in the unofficial trilogy that City of the Living Dead began?

    • Jun 22 2012

      This is actually my second* movie by Fulci. I just updated my Netflix queue and added the other two. I didn’t know that the director was so prolific. The descriptions of movies are so… bizarre. I’m really hoping to get into his work.

      • Jun 22 2012

        I was put off by the nearly nonexistent plots at first, but I became a big fan upon repeated watches. My love for Fulci’s work is hard to rationalize, honestly.

  2. May 16 2013

    bel servizio da provare, complimenti per il blog ;) Continuo a seguirvi, aspetto con ansia nuovi aggiornamenti!!

    • May 19 2013

      I have no idea what you just said but “complimenti” sounds good! :)


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