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Paura nella città dei morti viventi
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Reviews & Ratings for
City of the Living Dead More at IMDbPro »Paura nella città dei morti viventi (original title)

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35 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Nightmarish Vision

Author: marquis de cinema from Boston, MA
11 October 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Paura Nella Citta Dei Morti Viventi/City of the Living Dead(1980) was Lucio Fulci's followup to his international breakthrough and ultra violent zombie classic Zombie Flesh Eaters(1979). Fulci ups the ante in violent imagery compared to Zombie(1979). Unlike Zombie(1979), The Gates of Hell(1980) focuses more on atmosphere and dreamy landscapes then on story. The film begins and ends with the scream of the main actress. The opening scene is done with some skill.

The scene where the hanged priest is superimposed between the iris of Mary Woodhouse is brilliant. There is a medical element that is prominent in all of the director's horror films. After all, Lucio Fulci at one point studied to be a doctor and spent some time in Medical school. Lucio Fulci has a small cameo as a hospital examiner. The zombies look cool and creepy.

The Gates of Hell(1980) has some flaws in it. one flaw is the sometimes erratic editing. Another flaw is that there are a few dull moments that offset the film's brilliance. Also, it has the look of a film that went through a rushed production. Finally, the ending seems as if it was put together in the last second.

Sergio Salvati did an excellent job as the director of photography. Although some scenes are too dark, most of the film is still well photographed. The scenes with the camera moving around town are eerie with its light blue white fog and empty streets. The shots of the underground cemetery is one of the film's eeriest parts. The camera in The Gate of Hell(1980) as in Fulci's other horror films forces the audience to take a hard long look at the carnage occuring on the big screen.

The make up effects are done with flamboyance by Gino De Rossi as Gianetto De Rossi was not available to do the effects. The Gates of Hell(1980) would be the first in a three film series of gothic horror that included L'Aldila/The Beyond(1981), and Quella Villa Accanto al Cimitero/The House by the Cemetery(1981). Anchor Bay Entertainment did the best job they could possibly do with what seemed to be an average print. The Gates of Hell(1980) like many gothic novels were thought of as barbarous and crude. Lucio Fulci's next feature, The Beyond(1981) would focus more completely and fully on atmosphere and pure imagery then The City of the Living Dead(1980).

Paura Nella Citta Dei Morti Viventi(1980)'s refusal to have a linear plot and its violence are some of the things that divide audiences and critics like with many of Lucio Fulci's work. After the success of Inferno(1980) in Italy, there were many people who would use the film's non linear structure as a guide line for their films. Fear is the main theme of The Gates of Hell. It is fear that brings about the demise of different characters from the film. The movie was a way for the audience to attempt to overcome their own perosnal fears.

There are four outstanding set pieces in this flick. First, the semi realistic sequence where a woman pukes out her guts. Second, the drill through the head scene. Third, the buried alive sequence which pumps the tension like a ballion until its pops. Finally, the rising of the dead in the underground cemetery.

Catriona MacColl does a good job in what was the first of three films that she would do for Lucio Fulci. This is the third film along with The Exterminator(1980) and Enter the Ninja(1981) that Christopher George suffers a violent death. Christopher George adds a sense of humor to the film's gloomy landscape. Daniela Doria really was puking out something out of her mouth as you watch that infamous sequence(this makes her a brave actress for doing this scene). The drill scene is one of the most cruel and realistic death scenes that the director has ever filmed.

City of the Living Dead(1980) has many things in common with Don't Torture A Duckling(1972). One, the murderers in the two films are priest. Two, the non conformist are blamed and brutally murdered by the victim's family or friends. Three, the film takes place in a desolated and isolated town. Four, in both films a reporter and a blonde woman are the main protagonist.

The Gates of Hell(1980) also has some similar qualities with Phantasm(1979). First, the cemetery is the main source of evil. Second, a member of the local church is the cause of the evil doings around town. Third, the two films focus more on set pieces then on character and plot. Finally, The Gates of Hell(1980) and Phantasm(1979) are played out like a nightmare where a person has entered and is unable to exit.

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26 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

First class gorefest from the notorious Lucio Fulci.

Author: Infofreak from Perth, Australia
14 April 2002

Like most of Fulci's horror movies and Italian horror in general, plot and logic take a back seat to gore and stunning visual set pieces. I don't think that 'City Of The Living Dead' quite reaches the heights of Fulci's best ('The Beyond') but apart from a few dull patches it comes closer than you would expect. The simplistic story, which tips it's hat to H.P. Lovecraft, is really just an excuse for another zombie move, and regardless of his shortcomings, Fulci certainly came up with some of the most repulsive and horrible zombies ever, so this is essential viewing to fans of the genre. The movie includes two unforgettable gore sequences ( the drill and vomit scenes), a chilling scene in a graveyard, and an odd, unexpected ending. Recommended to fans of Italian horror. Others might be puzzled if they haven't experienced the style/period before, it's quite a trip!

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33 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Gore galore!

Author: HumanoidOfFlesh from Chyby, Poland
11 December 2001

"The Gates of Hell" is another masterpiece directed by one of the best horror directors Lucio Fulci.Fulci,who sadly died in 1996,was a real artist.Anyway this film concerns a priest committing suicide and opening the gateway to Hell,allowing the dead to rise from their graves and feed on the living.Christopher George("Pieces")tries to stop them.The gore effects made by Gino de Rossi are excellent(maggots,rotting flesh,lots of squished brains etc.)Giovanni Lombardo Radice gets an electric drill through his head,and there's also a notorious scene of woman(Daniela Doria)vomiting up all of her internal organs in a really nauseating torrent of blood and guts.The plot is weak,but the film is highly atmospheric and imaginative.Again brilliant director Lucio Fulci created a masterpiece of pure horror!10 out of 10-not to be missed.

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24 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

One hell of a gory film!

Author: Dan Grant ( from Toronto, Ontario
15 July 1999

Lucio Fulci is a horror icon. He may not be as well known to many film goers in North America as his iconic status was cemented some twenty years ago, but if you like films by Wes Craven and M. Night Shyamalan and even David Fincher, then you can look at Fulci and say that his work has inspired some of theirs. This is the firs film that I saw of Fulci's and it was when I was a teenager and didn't appreciate a film like this. All I saw in it was a blood and gore soaked film with some really violent deaths. How can one forget the drill to the head? To this day, I still think that actor was actually killed on the set? They really did put the drill bit through his brain and captured it on film for artistic integrity.

I am obviously kidding of course, but is the effect the film will have on you. Films like this are brutal and disgusting and if you like horror films that are high on gore, then Fulci and his counterpart, Argento, are the best in the business. I have always found Italian splatter films to be awe inspiring. They are so much more creative than your typical American horror films. That has changed into the new millennium, but there is still nothing like this on the market. Fulci's films, like Craven's 70's films, would be edited and chopped to bits before anything like this would ever be released. And that is a travesty as the vision and the creativity involved in making a film like this not only takes gusto, it takes talent. Fulci is about as good as they come for this genre.

This is what I wrote in my original review of the film. This is when I was in my mid 20's. I have seen the film recently and obviously my appreciation of the film has increased.

"Gates To Hell ( English translation ) is very amateurishly made. It is lacking in the acting and the directing is choppy. But what this film is and what it does is it epitomizes horror and terror. There are really disgusting scenes of brains being eaten, guts being puked up, a drill to the head ( one of favourites ) and lots of blood, guts and tissue. This film uses the fear of religious unknowns and uses that fear brilliantly. It shows us and truly makes us feel what it must be like to feel pain. Real pain. Not the comic violence that you get from Jason and Freddy. But real disgusting terror as you watch people die in heinous ways."

Times change and now I love the film even more. Fulci is a visionary genius and his Gates to Hell is one of the most innovative horror films to come out of any country. This is a must see for every horror fan.

I am just learning about Italian horror. But if this is what the horror genre is all about, then I want to see more of it. Fulci is one of a kind and I don't think there will be another like him. This is his best work. Check it out.


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13 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

excuse me sir, you seem to have left the portal to hell open...

Author: owlman-1 from United Kingdom
13 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Some films have articles, essays, even books dedicated to explaining how great they are. As a teenager it only took one simple sentence to put City of the Living Dead on my list of films I needed to see..."A woman pukes up her own intestines".

Sadly, at the time the UK censors didn't see the funny side of this, and the other delights contained in this film or it's companion The Beyond, so I didn't get to see them until much later. In some ways I can say COTLD does live up to it's reputation (it IS pretty disgusting) but in others, well, if The Beyond is pleasingly, nightmarishly surreal (and to me it is) COTLD is one of the most bafflingly illogical films I've ever seen.

The story involves a psychic and a journalist rushing to close a portal to hell that's been opened by the suicide of a priest (how? why? how should I know, I only watched the film and that didn't help! The priest comes back as an undead overlord, but was this his intention?). I say rushing but in fact their journey is rather leisurely. Apparently saving the world isn't as important as stopping off for lunch on the way, which is rather odd as they're against the clock on this one - the portal must be closed by All Saints day.

You may think that's a small thing to notice in the film except - and I'm about to give away the ending - they get there TOO LATE to close the portal! Before entering a graveyard for the final showdown with the undead priest they note that it's already All Saints day, they've blown it, yet the film continues into it's climax and a good vs evil face off from which our "heroes" think they're emerging victorious? You idiots! You already knew you blew it, what on earth is going on here?? Then there's the infamous final scene. Supposedly the films disjointed, inexplicable ending is the result of the last bit of footage being damaged and lost for ever, and what you do get is something you really have to see for yourself to (dis)believe. They certainly don't make 'em like that anymore.

If it's gore you want you certainly won't be let down by the drillings, gouged heads, zombie attacks and of course A WOMAN PUKING UP HER OWN INTESTINES, but overall this film is slow moving, and with that ending (for gods sake, that ENDING!) more than a little frustrating.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

maybe Fulci's best

Author: apregnantlesbian
22 August 2012

The Beyond somehow gets more acclaim from the self-proclaimed "artsy" crowd, but this essentially has the same formula, with the same juxtaposition of weak plot & characters and superb disgusting imagery, except with a more consistently oppressive tone and with less meandering, dull parts.

For those who are unfamiliar with Fulci and are just going by the title, there are zombies, but this isn't exactly a zombie flick, per se. It's more like a series of grotesque, surreal events that suggest Lovecraftian cosmic horror. Zombies teleport and make people vomit out their innards, by the way. I guess they're closer to zombie-like apparitions. Anyway...

It's a B-movie with rubbish acting, rubbish plot and all kinds of unintentionally hilarious stuff, so you can have a fun time watching this with friends, but at the same time you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. You'd have a hard time finding many other movies with such a doomed, godless atmosphere. Take the famous drill scene, for example. By now we've well established that humans are at the mercy of otherworldly forces, but there's nothing supernatural happening in this scene; it's a random act of extreme violence stemming from human malice, and this marriage of brutality and nonsense is one of the things that elevates Fulci from high camp into (potentially) genuinely scary, if you want it to be.

It plods a bit near the end, but good luck finding an Italian horror movie with perfect pacing. See it if you dig Fulci, it's just as good as The Beyond.

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13 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

City of the Living Dead

Author: Scarecrow-88 from United States
31 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Moronic gory exercise about a priest who hangs himself in a Dunwich graveyard resulting in the opening of gateway(s)to Hell. How this comes to happen is anyone's guess. I'm guessing it's the significance in the location. In folklore, Dunwich was built over the ruins of Salem..the witch's playground. Now, how hanging yourself in a graveyard in a town once housing witches is one thing, but how a priest's suicide unlocks the gates of hell is another. If Fulci would just take the time to explain the reasons why a priest's suicide could do such a thing, I might be a little closer to accepting this poor excuse to throw up gore scenes and supernatural hocus pocus. The zombies are incredibly photographed, but understanding how they come to be and why the priest brings them back to life confuses me. Okay, this priest hangs himself, comes back as some sort of ghoul who finds victims, scaring them to death. Once they are dead, the victims come back as zombies pulling brains out of poor people's skulls while their backs are turned. Some actually come from thin air, I'm guessing because they represent some sort of fear, but trying to come up with answers to all this foolishness was tiresome. Some perv named Bob gets a drill all the way through his skull thanks to a vengeful father whose daughter was almost molested by him. The film has a woman psychic who actually dies during a séance where she sees the priest kill she awakens and why are a mystery. Anyhow, she gets a reporter to take her to Dunwich to find the remains of the priest before "ALL SAINTS DAY" because if he arises, the dead will walk amongst the world to feed on flesh..they do already, but that is beside the point. You know, thanks to a psychiatrist who lost his girlfriend to the priest's fear(..and comes back as a zombie), the three find the burial tomb of the priest, but it is too late since ALL SAINTS DAY had begun. Oh well, Fulic just abandons that whole line letting the priest die anyway when he gets a cross thrust through his stomach as his torso burns to ash(..and so are his relatives who rise momentarily to moan a bit). The film is so incomprehensible and badly conceived, one should simply watch for all the bloody effects like one of the priest's victims who vomits up her intestines. Have a nice day.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Fulci's splatter film inspired on H.P. Lovecraft about the dead coming back to life at Dunwich

Author: ma-cortes
18 September 2010

This is a genuinely frightening story with correct utilization of images-shock , skill edition and eerie images . Lucio Fulci's main great success along with ¨Zombie 2¨ , is compelling directed with startling gory visual content . It's a creepy horror film plenty of brutal frames and gory events. Fulci's horror film about the dead coming back to life on a small location of Dunwich with inspiration on famous novelist H.P. Lovecraft . A journalist named Peter Bell (Christopher George), a psychiatrist (Carlo De Mejo) and a psychic named Mary Woodhouse (Catriona MacColl , Fulci's fetish actress) race to close the Gates of Hell after the suicide by hanging of a priest caused them to open , allowing the zombies to rise from the tombs . Gory, gruesome , pretty repellent , and ghastly gory-feast in which the stumbling flesh-eating stiffs are relived by an ancient curse .

Chilling Italian terror flick full of screams, shocks, chills, thrills and lots of blood and guts . Astonishing , mesmerizing , very repellent , and scary mess in which the living dead are reanimated and committing horrible murders . This is a classic excruciatingly terror film in which the intrigue,tension, suspense, horror appears threatening and lurking in every room, corridors , cellar , morgue, streets, cemetery and many other places . Watch for the great highlights as the alive burying and the pick-axe coming dangerously close to her head ; as when a drill punctures the face an unfortunate young -a Fulci's mark who repeats ad nauseam - and clergyman's mesmerizing stares making eyeballs bleed . And as always brief appearance of Lucio Fulci, in Alfred Hitchcock cameo style , as Police Inspector and a young future director of terror movies , Michele Soavi as hapless victim . Good make-up and special effects by makeup artist named Rufini replacing the usual maestro Gianetto De Rossi. Produced on a tight budget by Giovanni Masini and the same Fulci . Moody photography Sergio Salvati on location in Fort Lee, New Jersey, New York City, Savannah, Georgia, USA . Eerie musical score composed and conducted by Fabio Frizzi in Goblin style. The motion picture is realized by one of the most controversial filmmakers of terror movies ,Lucio Fulci , in his ordinary style with flaws and gaps but is professionally made because being a skilled craftsman . Reviewers are divided over booth the morals and talents of Fulci (1927-1996) who sometimes directed under the alias ¨Louis Fuller¨. For some critics many of his movies are cruel and shockingly violent , yet their gory surface often conceals religious, social commentaries or intelligent issues. Whether he should be viewed as a cheap sensationalist or just a genius Fulci has a loyal fan base and undeniably has an important and unique influence on the terror genre , creating great works on a low budget such as proved in ¨The Beyond¨, ¨Manhattan baby¨, ¨Gates of Hell¨, ¨Island of the living dead¨, ¨New York ripper¨ , among them . This is one more imaginative , though imperfect horror/splatter picture in which the camera stalks in sinister style . It's just one long unrelenting guts-feast and passable budget horror movie that still packs a punch for those who appeal to be terrorized out their wits . This gore-feast that tried to disguised itself under many other titles as ¨City of living dead¨ will enjoy to Lucio Fulci aficionados.

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

One of the Best Horror Movies by Lucio Fulci

Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
2 May 2013

In New York, the medium Mary Woodhouse (Katriona MacColl) sees Father William Thomas (Fabrizio Jovine) committing suicide by hanging himself in a cemetery in Dunwich. His death opens the gates of Hell permitting the rise of the dead. Mary is so frightened with what she sees that she dies in a séance.

The snoopy reporter Peter Bell (Christopher George) covers the death of Mary and goes to the cemetery. Out of the blue, Mary awakes locked in the coffin and Peter hears her screams and saves her. She tells what happened and Peter invites her to go to Dunwich with him. Meanwhile in Dunwich there are weird deaths and Peter and Mary meet the psychiatrist Gerry (Carlo De Mejo) and his friend Sandra (Janet Agren) to find out the grave of Father Thomas to close the gates of Hell before All Saints Day; otherwise the dead will raise and destroy the living. Will they succeed in their intent?

"Paura nella città dei morti viventi" is one of the best horror movies by Lucio Fulci. The story is simple and does not have explanations why the death of the priest will open the gates of Hell, but the special effects are gore and gruesome. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Pavor na Cidade dos Zumbis" ("Horror in the Zombie City")

Note: On 14 May 2013, I saw this movie again on Blu-Ray. The quality is excellent, but unfortunately the original audio in Italian is not available.

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10 out of 17 people found the following review useful:


Author: gunzar from United States
30 December 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm not a critic and this is my first post so bear with me. I am a huge horror fan and have wanted to see this film for years, so when I finally picked it up I was more than a little excited. More fool me, because I don't think I have ever been so disappointed and bored with a film in my whole life.

To start with the acting is absolutely atrocious even by horror standards, and the fact that its dubbed is no excuse. I've seen trees with a wider range.

The first half of the film is so boring I almost fell asleep. I tried drinking heavily to see if it would make it better, but sadly it was to no avail. When the action finally started it was roughshod and handled badly, and the plot was ridiculous.

The one good scene was where the creatively named "Bob" met his demise, but it came about because Bob, for reasons known only to himself, had hidden in the garage of the father of a girl he had kidnapped, raped, and tried to kill. Way to go Bob.

The last part of the film involved our heroes traveling underground to face the villain of the piece, and it was so underwhelming I actually thought there was more of the film to come.

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