225 user 149 critic

City of the Living Dead (1980)

Paura nella città dei morti viventi (original title)
Not Rated | | Horror | 6 May 1983 (USA)
3:02 | Trailer

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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.


Lucio Fulci


Lucio Fulci (story and screenplay), Dardano Sacchetti (story and screenplay)



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Complete credited cast:
Christopher George ... Peter Bell
Catriona MacColl ... Mary Woodhouse (as Katherine Mac Coll)
Carlo De Mejo ... Gerry
Antonella Interlenghi Antonella Interlenghi ... Emily Robbins
Giovanni Lombardo Radice ... Bob
Daniela Doria ... Rosie Kelvin
Fabrizio Jovine ... Father William Thomas
Luca Venantini ... John-John Robbins (as Luca Paisner)
Michele Soavi ... Tommy Fisher
Venantino Venantini ... Mr. Ross
Enzo D'Ausilio Enzo D'Ausilio ... Sheriff Russell's deputy
Adelaide Aste Adelaide Aste ... Theresa
Luciano Rossi ... Policeman in apartment
Robert Sampson ... Sheriff Russell
Janet Agren ... Sandra


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


From the bowels of the earth they came to collect the living... See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

6 May 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Twilight of the Dead See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Lucio Fulci: The pathologist at the crime scene who examines Emily's dead body. See more »


Mary could not have been buried alive as she would not have survived the embalming. See more »


[reading a porno magazine]
Blonde gravedigger: Will you check her out? Talk about a "box lunch".
Gravedigger: I'm telling you, you'll end up a dirty old man reading that stuff. A pervert. A peeping tom. I saw this porno flick once. This guy in the audience got so carried away with it, he humped himself to death.
Blonde gravedigger: Yeah, but what a way to go.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The British Cinema version was cut by around 1 minute to remove the drill sequence. This version was released on video in the UK before 1984, after which all videos were required to be submitted to the British Board of Film Classification. When it was finally given a video certificate by the BBFC, further cuts were made to remove the intestinal vomit scene, and the brain squashing scenes. The UK video has a total of 2m 21s of cuts. See more »


Referenced in The Night Comes for Us (2018) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Dreadful and disgusting.
5 May 2016 | by Giallo1963See all my reviews

It has got to be one of the most disgusting movies ever made with its often macabre and tasteless violence. But that is what violence really is, right? It has one of the most awe inspiring special effects ever put on film (the drilling head scene comes to mind) and make up effects. The make up was so effective I could almost taste the flesh of the living dead and it added to its dreadful atmosphere of heresy and sin. The premise is almost the same as 'Zombi 2', but in a more metaphysical and heretical way. But first: year of release: 1980, genre: horror/fantasy, director: Lucio Fulci, writers: Lucio Fulci and Dardano Sacchetti, themes: sin, heresy, death, afterlife and doom, plot: close the Gates of Hell before it is too late, summary: a priest commits a sin by hanging himself on a cemetery and consequently opens the Gates of Hell; a medium and a reporter sets out to close the Gates of Hell again before All Saints Day. We are thrown into a much more otherworldly heresy and sin compared to 'Zombi 2'. 'City of the Living Dead' is much more metaphysical and supernatural in its depiction. It is also more obvious with its main themes compared to what Fulci wanted to communicate to his audience in 'Zombi 2'.

Here I feel he is more original than when he made 'Zombi 2', which was basically made to cash in on 'Zombi's' (Dawn of the Dead) success. (Although 'Zombi 2' is more than just a cheap cash in). I feel Lucio is a little more personal with his movie here, Fulci having grown up as a strict Catholic tries to communicate his passion to the audience. Fulci suffered a lot because of his religion, because of its strict rules and doctrines and he even once proclaimed that our Christian God is a God of Passion (Passion etymologically means suffering), which he shows in his movie here by having a priest break a taboo by committing suicide. A broken taboo which opens the Gates of Hell and the dead return from Hell to haunt the living. A vision of Doom and Apocalypse that some circles in Christianity long for so the sinners can be judged and burn in Hell. Because, honestly, in the views of Christianity there is nothing more despicable than mankind. Man who has to spend his life to repent his sins and pray and beg for Absolution so that he may come home to Eden, which he was thrown out of because of his foolish wife tempted him to take a bite of the Forbidden Fruit. Petty and small man is according to the Holy Book, which many people take seriously. That is the essence of this movie and what Lucio Fulci wanted to communicate to the audience.

Besides its strong themes the movie has its atmosphere, I did not get drawn in by the story or plot but by the atmosphere of the movie. That feeling of heresy and angst of doing something wrong. Breaking a taboo which has strong consequences and fills one with regret and fear of what is to come. After those years ago that is what I remember most about this movie. What I also remember is the gloriously disgusting make up effects and the tasteless violence with its Goth and Metaphysical atmosphere which I find hard to match in other movies besides Mario Bava's movies. Mario Bava's 'Black Sunday' and 'Black Sabbath' come to mind and this movie plays out like a Black Sabbath heavy metal song. Slow, heavy and dreadful, full of lyrics of Doom and Death. Although some of the acting in the movie can be quite weak and the movie's pace is quite inconsistent it is a movie I became quite fond of over the years. I really did not like it at first. I felt it was too slow and its shock tactics too old fashioned and predictable, but I could not deny its Goth and I find it hard to resist. This is a really pessimistic movie with little to no sense of humor so overall it is not really an entertaining movie. But when it comes to horror, Goth, gore and violence it really is an undeniable gem. Albeit for the ones who are familiar with the Italian horror movies.

I am restraining myself a little by giving it a 9/10 rating, because although it is fantastic as a horror/Goth Fantasy for me some of the acting and incoherent pace still makes me think this is not a masterpiece.

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