‘City Of The Living Dead’ (1980): 40 Years Of Gory, Apocalyptic Insanity

Forty years ago on August 11, 1980, Lucio Fulci released City Of The Living Dead. I have to admit that I’m a Fulci fanboy, and City Of The Living Dead is one of my favorites. My favorite Fulci film will always be House By The Cemetery, but this film was the movie that cemented my love and admiration for the filmmaker’s work as a director. I love and respect Fulci so much, that it is quite humbling to be able to celebrate one of his movies.

City Of The Living Dead Synopsis

A reporter and a psychic must race against time to prevent hordes of rotting corpses from being released from the gates of hell.

The Adventures Of The Reporter And The Psychic

The two City Of The Living Dead actors that I want to center in on are Christopher George (The Exterminator, Pieces), who plays NYC reporter Peter, and Catriona MacColl (The Beyond, House By The Cemetery) as Mary the psychic. Peter and Mary are the main characters, two of my favorite personalities in any of Fulci’s films. It’s not so much the characters themselves, but the people who play them.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Christopher George. He tends to overact, but that’s why I love him. You will always get that cheesy grin of his in almost every scene he’s in. He looks like a used car salesman, but at the same time, that smile of his makes you like him anyways.

What can I say about the great Catriona MacColl? I love her performance in City Of The Living Dead. It amazes me how much effort she put into her role, especially since she was just doing this film for a paycheck. After reading the script, she really didn’t think the movie would go anywhere. She didn’t—and still doesn’t—understand the plot, but MacColl is a true actress. She gave her all when working on this film, and it shows.

Catriona should have won an Oscar for the scene where she wakes up in a casket and realizes she’s been buried alive. One of my favorite scenes in the film.

City Of The Living Dead Is A Masterpiece In Gore

Honestly, Fulci’s projects have never made a lot of sense. If you’ve never seen them—and you like your movies to be logical and concise—you might want to skip his films. Most of his films move with an energetic paranoia marked by pivotal scenes of blood and gore. City Of The Living Dead is no exception. There are so many great gore scenes here, but I want to center in on two.

First, I want to talk about the stigmata scene. As a woman stares at a dead priest, blood suddenly begins to pour from her eyes as she slowly vomits up her own intestines. The first time I watched this scene, I  was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

That’s what I love about Fulci. He doesn’t pull any punches. Most horror movies hold back when it comes to gore, but not this man. There is a reason he is called the Grandfather of Gore, boys and girls.

The second scene I want to discuss is when Bob (Giovanni Lombardo Radice: Cannibal Ferox 1981) gets some sort of power drill driven through his head. Fulci is absolutely merciless in this scene. The father who catches Bob with his teenage daughter and slams him onto a table. Then the camera zooms in on the power drill creeping towards Bob’s skull. It seems like it takes forever … but then, the payoff comes, and you watch the drill insert slowly into the man’s head, popping out on the other side. This is Fulci at his best.

Closing Thoughts

I believe City Of The Living Dead is one of the best films in Fulci’s catalog. It has such a dreamlike atmosphere, absolute insanity from the moment that Mary gets the psychic vision that a priest has hung himself in a town called Dunwich, right up until the Gates of Hell have been opened. Like with any Fulci film, it is pure mayhem from start to finish, marked by pivotal scenes of the most depraved gore in all of horror.

If you’ve seen City Of The Living Dead, let us know what you think of the film!

About Jeremy Adkins

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