Man, leave it to the Italians to make a nauseatingly awesome horror flick. I made the mistake of eating lunch while watching this and I think it’ll be a year before I can eat French bread pizza again. And, believe it or not, that’s a compliment to this movie.
A preacher hangs himself in the small New England town of Dunwich, and his suicide opens the seven gates of hell. The recently dead begin rising from their graves, stalking their families and terrorizing the town, and only a reporter and a psychic can stop the living dead from overrunning the world. But with only three days to close the seven gates, will they have enough time or is the Earth doomed?
For me, the success of a horror movie lies in its ability to create atmosphere, and this gem from the eighties has atmosphere in spades. City of the Living Dead just plain looks creepy and you can’t help but feel an uneasiness in the pit of your stomach while watching.
That uneasiness ramps up to flu-level nausea thanks to the very graphic, gross-out scenes. One scene in particular stands out where the evil priest stares at a woman, making her eyes bleed and foam issue from her mouth. The foam quickly becomes chunky as the woman begins puking out her organs and intestines. Normally, I’m not a fan of gore, but this one was so gut-wrenchingly impressive that even I had to appreciate it. I’d go on with more examples, but I don’t want to ruin it for you.
Watching this movie made me nostalgic for the great scary movies of the seventies and eighties. It tells a simple, but fun story in a completely straightforward, un-ironic manner. The people involved here aren’t out to make art—just an entertaining movie; something that I think current filmmakers forget how to do.
If I wanted to, I could rip this movie apart. I could point out the logical fallacies in the plot, the places where the special effects look more cheesy than scary, or how the acting is serviceable but unspectacular. But I don’t want to because, taken together, the movie is greater than the sum of its parts. It comes together to make a really fun, really scary, really gross horror movie that I had a blast watching.
The next time I watch it, though, I’ll be sure not to eat.
The movie is presented in Widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio with the audio in English 7.1 DTS-HD, 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround EX, and the original Mono. English, French, and Spanish subtitles are available for non-English speakers and the hearing impaired. Given that this was an Italian movie made in 1980, it’s not going to look that slick or polished; however, Blue Underground has done a great job of transferring the print to high-definition. Those unfamiliar with Italian movies may be put off by the obvious dubbing, but I think that adds to its charm. Overall, there were no problems with either the audio or the video.
Although I typically don’t like extra features, I enjoyed the ones on this release. The majority of the extras are interviews with the cast and crew looking back on the production, and because they’ve had sufficient time and space away from the movie they are able to talk about it in a more sophisticated and thoughtful way, making these much better than the typical extras.
the Making of City of the Living Dead – Interviews with Catriona MacColl, Michele Soavi, Massimo Antonello Geleng, Rosario Presopino, Gino De Rossi, Sergio Salvati, and Roberto Forges Davanzati.
Acting Among the Living Dead – Interview with star Catriona MacColl.
Entering the Gates of Hell – Interview with star Giovannni Lombardo Radice.
Memories of the Maestro – The case and crew reminisce about working with Lucio Fulci.
Marking of the Living Dead – Poster & Still Gallery.
Radio Spots/Still Gallery
Once again Blue Underground has unearthed a real horror gem here. This movie is definitely not for the squeamish, but if you like some gore to go along with your horror then this is your movie. Recommended.
Blue Underground presents City of the Living Dead. Directed by: Lucio Fulci. Starring: Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo, Antonella Interlenghi, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Daniela Doria, Fabrizio Jovine, and Janet Agren. Written by: Lucio Fulci and Dardano Sacchetti. Running time: 93 minutes. Rating: NR. Released on DVD: May 25, 2010. Available at Amazon.com.