Monday, January 25, 2010

City of the Living Dead (1980)

When Lucio Fulci decided to follow up his 1979 classic Zombie Flesh Eaters with the 1980 release of City Of The Living Dead, little did people realize that the Italian horror master would lead them on an unparalleled masterpiece of violent imagery, atmosphere and climate. Complete with some tremendous visual effects, Fulci definitely transports the viewer into a dark realm of the undead. While the movie does lack some story, the medical, religious and occult overtones add to the landscape of the film. Not to mention the strange and creepy looking zombies that the crew developed for this film.

Originally released as The Gates of Hell, the film is far from perfect; suffering from some slow periods throughout and an ending that appears choppy and rushed. That being said, the brilliance of the movie is not overshadowed by these few flaws. In fact, director of photography, Sergio Salvati, created an eerie feeling throughout the film with the strange ultra-dark settings and the blue and white fog lining the empty streets.

Yet, to talk about this masterpiece without mentioning the horrific and often lurid make-up effects done by Gino De Rossi would be a travesty. The gore that is scattered throughout this film is amazing. From the semi realistic scene where a woman pukes out her guts, to the rising of the dead in the underground cemetery, there is something for everyone, including the controversial drill scene which is one of the most cruel and realistic death scenes I have ever seen.

In the end, similar to most of Fulci's horror movies and Italian horror in general, plot and logic take a back seat to gore and stunning visual effects. City Of The Living Dead may not reach the pinnacle of his best work (The Beyond) but apart from a few slow moments it comes closer than you would expect.

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