Written by: Michael Den Boer on May 19th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1980
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Lucio Fulci, Dardano Sacchetti
Cast: Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo, Antonella Interlenghi, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Daniela Doria, Fabrizio Jovine, Luca Venantini, Michele Soavi, Venantino Venantini, Enzo D’Ausilio, Adelaide Aste, Luciano Rossi, Robert Sampson, Janet Agren, Lucio Fulci
BluRay released: May 24th, 2010
Approximate running time: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: 7.1 DTS-HD English, DTS-HD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo English, Dolby Digital Mono English
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region 0
Retail Price: £22.99
Synopsis: The gates of hell are opened after a clergyman’s suicide.
City of the Living Dead was co-written and directed by Lucio Fulci a versatile Italian filmmaker whose notable films include Beatrice Cenci, The Beyond, Don’t Torture a Duckling, The Eroticist, A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Massacre Time, The Maniacs, My Sister in Law, New York Ripper, Perversion Story, The Psychic and Zombi 2. City of the Living Dead features a brief acting cameo from Lucio Fulci, this time around he portrays a doctor. On the production side City of the Living Dead, features many of Lucio Fulci’s key collaborators like composer Fabio Frizzi, Cinematographer Sergio Salvati and Editor Vincenzo Tomassi. The Italian language title for City of the Living Dead is “Paura nella città dei morti viventi”, which translates into “Fear in the City of the Living Dead”. When released in the U.S. the film went under the alternate title The Gates of Hell.
After the success of Zombie 2, it would not take long for Lucio Fulci to return to the world of the living dead with City of the Living Dead. Structure and content wise while there are many similarities between City of the Living Dead and the aforementioned Zombie 2. Inspiration wise the film owes just as much to the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. With the biggest nod to the works of H.P. Lovecraft being the accursed town in City of the Living Dead is named Dunwich.
A criticism often cited about City of the Living Dead is its anemic plot that at times defies logic. When compared to Lucio Fulci’s other zombie films. The plot and mystifying aspects of the story are in line with his other zombie films. The one area where City of the Living Dead excels the most is its gore set pieces which include a being buried alive, a woman vomiting her intestines and a young man who has a power drilled driven through his head. The death scenes are brutal, gory and effectively pulled off.
The cast features many familiar faces like Christopher George (Pieces), Catriona MacColl (The Beyond, The House by the Cemetery), Carlo De Mejo (Terror Express), Giovanni Lombardo Radice (House on the Edge of the Park), Janet Agren (Eaten Alive), Michele Soavi (Cemetery Man) and Luciano Rossi (Death Walks at Midnight). Performance wise the cast are more than adequate in their respective roles with the stand out performance coming from Catriona MacColl in her first of three films that she made with Lucio Fulci. The scene where her character is buried alive and a pick axe breaks the coffin she is trapped in. This scene stands out one of most tense scenes that Lucio Fulci ever directed. Overall City of the Living Dead is an another superbly directed tale of the macabre from Lucio Fulci that has a abundance of tension and atmosphere.
City of the Living Dead comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. When compared to previous home video releases of this film, this transfer improves upon colors, flesh tones, black levels and amount of detail in every frame.The HD transfer for this BluRay release looks like it uses the same source that was used for the Blue Underground BluRay release.
This release comes with four audio options, 7.1 DTS-HD English, DTS-HD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo English, Dolby Digital Mono English. All four audio mixes sound clear, balanced and at times robust. The audio mixes on this release sound very similar when compared to the audio mixes on the Blue Underground BluRay.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (3 minutes – anamorphic widescreen) which allows you to watch the trailer in English and Italian audio options (no English subtitles), a image gallery, a featurette about Lucio Fulci titled “Fulci in the House: The Italian Master of Splatter” (17 minutes 50 seconds), one and one interviews with Catriona MacColl (24 minutes 51 seconds), Carlo De Mejo (17 minutes 28 seconds), Antonella Fulci (27 minutes 34 seconds), Dardano Sacchetti (16 minutes 59 seconds) and Giovanni Lombardo Radice (50 minutes 26 seconds). Others extras include a interview with director Luigi Cozzi who discusses Lucio Fulci (16 minutes 59 seconds) and a segment which recaps a screening of the film at the Glasgow theater (24 minutes 47 seconds), which includes a Q & A with Catriona MacColl and Giovanni Lombardo Radice. Topics discussed in these interviews include production related stories and Lucio Fulci. The interview with Giovanni Lombardo Radice covers his entire career. The main extras included with this release are two audio commentaries. The first audio commentary is with Giovanni Lombardo Radice and the second one is with Catriona MacColl and Jay Slater. Even though the two audio commentaries cover topics that are discussed in the other extras on this release. They are both enjoyable tracks that offer up enough information not covered elsewhere. All of the extras included with this release are in HD, expect “Fulci in the House: The Italian Master of Splatter”, which is in standard definition and PAL. Also included with this release are six post cards, a mini replica poster, alternate cover art and a collectible booklet. Overall City of the Living Dead gets a exceptional BluRay release from Arrow Video.