City of the Living Dead (1980)
Directed by Lucio Fulci
A small group of occult-type people have a seance and one of them - Mary - has a vision of a priest committing suicide in some town called Dunwich (which later is revealed to be built on top of the old Salem of witchcraft lore). Mary apparently dies of fright, but later awakens inside her coffin at a local cemetery. Fortunately Peter, a nosy reporter, hears her screams and frees her. With the help of her psychic friends the plot is revealed - the priest's suicide has opened the gates of Hell and they must be closed before All Saints Day or else the living dead will never know peace! Mary and Peter set off to find Dunwich and put a stop to it.
Meanwhile in the town of Dunwich the dead priest beings to wreak havoc. He kills a few townsfolk merely by scaring them to death with his evil stare. The people in town initially blame the deaths on a local derelict, but the town shrink Gerry and his patient Sandra soon realize something more sinister is afoot when a dead body suddenly appears in Sandra's kitchen.
Peter and Mary finally arrive in Dunwich and hook up with Gerry and Sandra. All is explained, and they must locate the tomb of the dead priest and put a stop to the undead rising. Sandra leaves the group to take care of a little boy, but gets killed by a zombie. The other three locate the tomb and go inside to find the priest. They find a large cavern underground and Peter is attacked and killed by the now undead Sandra. Gerry dispatches her with a pole through her gut. They finally come to a chamber and a swarm of zombies rise from the ground and slowly close in for the kill. The priest appears and starts to work his evil eye on Mary. Gerry finds a wooden cross and rams it through the priest's gut. This seems to "close" the gate - the priest and all his zombie brethren suddenly catch fire and burn to ashes.
This is an interesting take on the zombie genre. It's really more of a classic horror movie that mixes suspense, cheap scares, and some gratuitous gore. The zombies aren't the result of some new virus - they are due to the gates of hell being opened by a priest's suicide. To kill the zombies one must simply dispatch the priest. The special effects are pretty good, with an emphasis on guts, though the director seems to have a fetish for earth worms. Just like Fulci's Zombie movie, we are treated to scenes of gore that really have little to do with the movie! What's scary about the zombies is you really can't run away. They are more like ghosts because they appear suddenly right in front of you. The atmosphere of the film is similar to the Omen flicks, though on a much lesser scale. The subjects of religion, evil, and such are only briefly touched upon as the movie primarily concentrates on showing zombies scaring people and squeezing their brains. Overall the movie falls short of being a classic supernatural film, and fails to impress as a true zombie film, but is decent enough and entertaining to watch.
|Zombie Source||supernatural, gates of hell, etc.|
Definitely not your classical zombie. They can kill you by staring at you - and scaring you to death. One minute they are in front of you, the next they are gone, only to reappear somewhere else. Typical supernatural evil stuff! Their favorite tactic is grabbing the back of the victim's head, crushing the skull, and squeezing a handful of brains!
Best Zombie Kill
A couple is having a romantic interlude in a pickup truck when the dead priest appears. He stares at the girl until her eyes begin to bleed. Then she starts foaming at the mouth and soon starts puking up her guts - literally! What appears to be intestines start to pour out of her mouth, followed by a big blob that might be her stomach. All the while her boyfriend is freaking out and trying to escape the vehicle. When the girl is finished expelling her innards, she suddenly grabs the boyfriend by the back of his head and crushes his skull like a melon and his brains ooze out between her fingers!
Best Zombie Death
There are only two zombie deaths, both in the last scene of the movie, and both the result of gut shots! The final kill was the most dramatic - Gerry finds a wooden cross in the tomb and rams it through the kingpin priest's gut. The result is a gaping hole and some oozing innards. Then the priest immediately catches fire and slowly burns to nothing but a small bit of ashes.
Poor Bob is the local derelict and many townsfolk accuse him of the recent murders. When a father finds his daughter in his garage with Bob (who just happened to be there for a nap), he assumes the worst and becomes enraged. He slaps Bob around and during the struggle they bump into the power switch of a stationary drill. The father pins Bob's head down on the table and slowly slides his head toward the spinning drill. You keep thinking that Bob will escape, or the daughter will save him...but no...slowly and slowly the head gets closer to the drill. Bob screams as the drill enters the side of his head. We are treated to the bit drilling in deeper and deeper until it pokes out through the other side of his head!