Saturday, October 3, 2015

Horrors of October - City of the Living Dead

City of the Living Dead (1980)

The gates of Hell have inadvertently opened up in the town (not city) of Dunwich, Massachusetts and it is up to a few residents plus a reporter and psychic from New York City to close them back up. Those looking at the title and expecting this zombie flick to follow in the footsteps of director Lucio Fulci's ZOMBI 2 will surely be disappointed. This movie kicks off an unofficial trilogy of films by Fulci involving the supernatural side of the walking dead, the other two being THE BEYOND and THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY. Here, the malicious corpses are a bit similar to the ones present in John Carpenter's THE FOG: They teleport all around rather than march forward, they spawn forth while the town is flooded with weird natural phenomenon, and instead of eating brains the creatures would rather just squeeze a fist-full of it or give you a nasty scalping. A few of the beings even have a death glare, which helps produce the film's most famously gruesome death. The film overall is an engaging and creepy affair of demonic behavior and the horrors hidden within a small town, punctuated by Fulci's traditional camera tricks and gore effects. That being said, the film is hampered by a true lack of focus in the story department. THE NYC duo are technically the heroes of the film, played by known genre actors Christopher George and Catriona MacColl, but despite an effective sequence where MacColl is prematurely buried, they offer up really nothing to the plot beside padding; the film already has a pair of townies that are flat-out doppelgängers of George and MacColl's characters. Then you have the pointless subplot with the town's bad boy (though the infamous drill kill was nice) and the fact that the final battle with the head honcho of evil is an exact copy of a previous lackluster battle that happened mere minutes earlier. And what the hell is up with that ending? Even with these grave concerns, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD is an enjoyable romp and brings further proof as to why Fulci is so revered in horror.


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