CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD
GATES OF HELL
(Paura Nella Citt dei Morti Viventi)
It is hard to fathom the reasons for the Lucio Fulci cult. The only reasons seem to rest on Fulcis delivering sequential episodes of extreme gore. The lack of popularity of Fulcis later films appears to be directly related to the fact that he cut back on gore and bloodletting. There are certainly a number of strong scenes shown here the backs of heads being twisted open and brains squeezed out, eyes being made to supernaturally bleed, a girl vomiting up her intestines. Of note is a gruellingly suspenseful scene where Catriona MacColl is buried alive and Christopher George attempts to break her out with a pickaxe and each blow smashes through the lid of her coffin, coming unnervingly close to her face.
The problem with City of the Living Dead is that Lucio Fulci displays an almost entire indifference to narrative and plot. There is the vague connection of the priests suicide as explain-all but City of the Living Dead largely consists of a series of scenes that have no narrative association whatsoever. Fulci seems indifferent even to which of his characters ultimately survive. The ending with the crucifix killing the priest and blowing the zombies up seems arrived at wholly arbitrarily.
It is worth comparing Lucio Fulci to Dario Argento. Both of them specialize in set-pieces of extreme gore and sadism and seem disinterested in connecting narrative. In both cases, the gory despatches are either directors raison detre and the basis of eithers cult. The difference between the two when their output is placed alongside is immediately apparent Argentos films are exercises in virtuoso directorial style, slasher films with an artistic sensibility; by contrast Lucio Fulci is merely a hack, an Argento with one-tenth of the style and where the gore-drenched punchline is the whole of his films.
Lucio Fulcis other genre films are: Perversion Story (1969), Lizard in a Womans Skin (1971), Dont Torture the Duckling (1972), Dracula in the Provinces (1975), The Psychic (1977), Zombie Flesh Eaters/Zombi 2 (1979), The Beyond/The Seven Doors to Death (1981), The Black Cat (1981), The House By the Cemetery (1981), The New York Ripper (1981), Manhattan Baby/Eye of the Evil Dead/The Possessed (1982), Conquest (1983), Rome 2072 A.D. (1983), Murderock (1984), The Devils Honey/Dangerous Obsession (1986), Aenigma (1987), Touch of Death/When Alice Broke the Mirror (1988), Zombi 3 (1988), Demonia (1990), Nightmare Concert (1990), Voices from Beyond (1991) and Door to Silence (1992).
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