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City of the Living Dead (1980)

Paura nella città dei morti viventi (original title)
Not Rated | | Horror | 6 May 1983 (USA)
A reporter and a psychic race to close the Gates of Hell after the suicide of a clergyman caused them to open, allowing the dead to rise from their graves.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Mary Woodhouse (as Katriona MacColl)
Carlo De Mejo ...
Antonella Interlenghi ...
Emily Robbins
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Bob
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Fabrizio Jovine ...
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John-John Robbins (as Luca Paisner)
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Tommy Fisher
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Enzo D'Ausilio ...
Sheriff Russell's deputy
Adelaide Aste ...
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Policeman in apartment
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Sandra
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Storyline

In the small New England town of Dunwich, a priest commits suicide by hanging himself in the church cemetery which somehow opens the gates of hell allowing the dead to rise. Peter, a New York City reporter, teams up with a young psychic, named Mary, to travel to the town where they team up with another couple, psychiatrist Jerry and patient Sandra, to find a way to close the gates before All Saints Day or the dead all over the world will rise up and kill the living. Written by matt-282

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Dead Shall Rise And Walk The Earth See more »

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Horror

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

6 May 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

City of the Living Dead  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Book of Enoch is a non-canonical Jewish religious work going back to the 4th Century BCE. It is considered canon by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, but not by any other Christian groups. See more »

Goofs

The people of Dunwich are said to be descended from "Salem witch burners", although no accused "witches" were ever burned in Salem (most were hanged). See more »

Quotes

Theresa: You don't deserve help! You're a comic book version of a detective, Sergeant!
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Theresa: Enoch.
Sgt. Clay: Yeah, Enoch. According to you, this poor girl is dead because of a book that was written 4,000 years ago. Correct?
Theresa: That's right. I would find a such an unusual paradox of tremendous appeal terribly stimulating, if I were a sleuth. Enoch provides the explanation...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Burial Ground: Nights of Terror (2007) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
"Bodies don't just get up and walk by themselves."
19 June 2002 | by See all my reviews

By some margin the best of Fulci's four zombie movies, Paura nella città dei morti viventi succeeds because it has a denser text than the others.

Okay, the dubbing is still chronic and detracts from the piece, but there's more of an arty feel to this one, rather than just a crass sub-Romero exploitation.

It's a relatively complex narrative, made up of psychics, religious texts and an overriding fear of mortality. These undead are not tenpins to be knocked down, as in Zombi 3, but are a mirror image of our own inevitable demise. One particularly unsettling sequence sees a girl buried alive, fighting to get out of her coffin.

The pacing works, too, because even though this suffers from the usual clunky dialogue, there's a slow build-up, adding tension to proceedings. Mind you, a Priest whose party trick is being seen as a hanged apparition is bound to put the willies up anyone. Figuratively speaking, obviously. In fact, it's a touch of genius that sees phantoms mixed with the zombie set-up. Zombies that appear and disappear in your bedroom are far scarier than ones that just amble around like Albert Tatlock on Mogadons.

There are concessions to Fulci's juvenile gore, of course - one girl bleeds tears and then regurgitates her own internal organs before snatching out her boyfriend's brains. And, of course, we get the obligatory impaling scene, this time with an electric drill. It's amazing what Fulci puts his actors through, actually - whether it's showering them with maggots, pushing worms into their face or making an actress swallow and regurgitate freshly slaughtered lamb tripe, he always makes them suffer for their art.

However, there is a slight tendency to imply, not show, here, such as the corpse biting the man's wrist. Okay, we see the blood after the event, but the actual action is played out as a close-up in the man's anguished face. We never even get to see what the three zombies do to the bar owner. Fabio Frizzi's music also adds much to the film in its dated synth-drum machine type way, though its inability to continue from scene to scene does jar somewhat.

The new skills Fulci brought to this project – pace, characterisation, an actual plot, of sorts – were themes he continued with in his third zombie flick, E tu vivrai nel terrore – L'aldilà. Sadly, however, this learning curve was all forgotten when he got behind atrocious sequel Zombi 3 in 1988. Yes, Paura nella città dei morti viventi is more Hammer's Plague of Zombies than Night of the Living Dead, with characterisation and gothic sets taking the place of modern context and visceral thrills. Perhaps the only way it disappoints is in lacking a big pay-off. Instead it opts for a nonsensical conclusion that defies logic.


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