City of the Living Dead a/k/a The Gates of Hell a/k/a Fear in the City of the Living Dead

crying blood effect is super creepy

This is so good. It has everything that a schlock horror movie should have! There are extreme death, disgusting situations, murder and madness, and a whole town rapt with hijinx!

The story is structured like a Stephen King novel – meaning that a group of ordinary people are introduced as templates for the oncoming evil. How that evil plops down into their pathetic everyday lives is meant to fill pages upon pages in the King novels and drive home the emotional impact of the terror. But in this movie it just gives an excuse for more actors to mutter silly dialogue and met horrible ends. Wait. That sounds a lot like a King novel too!

Take for instance the woman, Mary, who dies at the seance. She is the motor of the action. Or at least, the movie’s flimsy attempt to explain the silliness. Plus she sets up the graveyard scene, in which two lazy gravediggers leave her coffin half buried, so that the crusty cigar chomping  newspaper man, can rescue her with the pick axe. Mary screams as the axe drives through her coffin, stopping inches from her eye, teeth, and cheek. Terrible way to get rescued.

There is Bob, played with amazing physicality by Giovanni Radice, a creep who has a blow-up sex doll girlfriend, even though all the hotties in town seek him out to party. He gets a garage drill to his temple. Why? Because he is blamed for the murder of the make out kids in the car. The one who was bleeding from her eyes and then barfed up her whole intestines.

There are the guys in the bar. The three of them are used to illustrate how the unleashed horror effects the locals. First they don’t believe anything. The the now-you-see-them-now-you-don’t corpses attack and gut munch all of them right up.

There is Gerry and Sandra. Who’s relationship is strange. Are they doctor and patient? Are they lovers? Friends? Who cares. Gerry is the ultimate hero of the movie. And Sandra gets her head squished. Which brings me to a very strange point in the zombie canon. Fulci has decided that these undead, risen corpses, preferred method of consumption is a hand to the back of the skull, as the zombies fingers rip and crush open the skull, brain bits oozing and glooping as the victim is scalped. Great special effect, but very strange.

keep yer mouth shut!

Probably the best scene in the entire mess is the maggot storm. Four characters are attacked by a flurry of maggots for three to five minutes of screen time. The windows burst open and a huge wind fan blows chunks of foam or popcorn at the actors, as close-ups of patches of maggots squirm and burrow into the actor’s faces. When the scene ends, the room’s floor is, literally, carpeted in maggots. Its the most impressively disgusting thing in the movie by far. And that includes the wormy dead baby and the hanged priest’s zombie corpse speared to show his muddy, sloppy entrails.

While the story makes no sense. There are so many plot holes that to even start to mention them would take hours and probably give me a headache. It is one of the better zombie/ghost/gorefests out there, simply for its take no prisoners attitude and glee. Go see it.

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