City of the Living Dead (1980)

City of the Living Dead (1980) movie poster

director Lucio Fulci
viewed: 11/07/2013

Lucio Fulci’s City of the Living Dead puts the viscera back in visceral quite literally.  In fact he puts the viscera of a sheep quite effectively into the mouth of one of his actresses and has her regurgitate and regurgitate in a way too gruesome to find a parallel in any CGI.

As a horror film, it has atmosphere, creepy, oddball atmosphere of fog machines and eerie lighting.  It also has a weird disjointedness that makes the story a bit convoluted and hard to follow.

It starts with a priest hanging himself in a cemetery and opening “the gates to hell” (an alternative title for this film), which brings the dead back to life.  It stars the almost comical Christopher George, an actor of his time, very 1970’s, charming, a little quirky, who acts like a movie star with oily aplomb and a perpetual cigar in his mouth.

More than anything, it’s got some uber-visceral gore.  Not just regurgitated sheep viscera, but brains being torn out and a very pointed and effective skewering of a head with a large drill.  I would say that gore for gore’s sake became one of the 1980’s horror downfalls, slipping on this as a requirement and a raison d’etre for the genre.  But it has to be said that when certain effects are effected…they can be really striking, shocking and/or stunning.  And Fulci gets some serious points for his gore here, one of his noted attributes as a film-maker.

So, while it’s not a great movie, it’s an entertaining one.  Not for the weak-stomached.  And a real testament to analog visuals.

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