City of the Living DeadI’ll be honest, until last week I had never heard of The City of the Living Dead. Nor had I heard of it’s director, Lucio Fulci.

Quite a shameful admission I suspect, but his work seems to have slipped by me while I’ve been busy over the years acquainting myself with the likes of Sam Raimi, William Friedkin, George A. Romero and Dario Argento.

After a triple bill at The Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square, I’m quite eager to seek out more of his work as I had a thoroughly great time taking in the sub-standard acting and gory effects.

City of the Living Dead was the first of Fulci’s “gates of hell” trilogy and while the plot makes little sense, the crazy and imaginative death scenes more than make up for the short comings in it’s narration.

As far as the story goes, it’s set in the fictional town of Dunwich where a local priest commits suicide which in turn causes the gates of hell to open. With super strength zombies running amok, a New York city psychic, Mary Woodhouse (Catriona MacColl) predicts that unless the gates are closed by All Saints Day, the dead will rule the Earth.

Along with Mary Woodhouse, there’s an investigative reporter Peter Bell (Christopher George), local shrink known simply as Gerry and his neurotic patient, Emily Robbins (Antonella Interlenghi).

As the supernatural events unfold and the super strength zombies grow in numbers, the viewer is treated to a bunch of grisly deaths.

In some particularly disturbing scenes, we see a young girl literally throw up her innards and in another scene, we witness one man push someone’s head into a drill. It’s all pretty twisted stuff that somehow manages to distract the viewer from it’s lack of plot, b-movie standard acting and slight out of time sound mix (Italian cast members were redubbed apparently).

While Fulci’s direction may not have served the actors performances well, it’s clear the man had a visual flare for horror and the sequence in which someone is buried alive only to be nearly killed by a pick axe during their rescue is both thrilling and superbly executed.

Overall, City of the Living Dead is still a solid horror flick. It may show signs of it’s age with it’s soap opera style acting and the proceedings may come to an abrupt end, but there is plenty here for the average horror fan to enjoy.

About The Author

Colin lives in south west London. Looks like a hobbit and has been watching films ever since he saw Return of the Jedi at the age of 3. You can follow Colin on Twitter @obicolkenobi.