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 25th, 2010
Approximate running time: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: 7.1 DTS-HD English, Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region 0
Retail Price: $34.95
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. Having only seen the region 1 DVD release from Anchor Bay (which was re-released on DVD by Blue Underground) this new HD transfer blows that one away in every way. Grain while present looks natural. There are no problems with compression, edge enhancement or DNR. Colors have never look as vibrant as they do on this transfer. Flesh tones look healthy and accurate. Black levels look solid and there is a tremendous amount of detail in every frame.
This release comes with three audio options, 7.1 DTS-HD English, Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Mono English. All three audio mixes sound clear, balanced and at times robust. The two remix audio tracks, 7.1 DTS-HD English and Dolby Digital 5.1 English do a good job spreading out the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack. The Dolby Digital Mono English while not as dynamic as the other two mixes it still fares comparably with the two aforementioned audio mixes. Removable English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles have been included.
Extras for this release include 2 radio spots that have stills in the background, a English language trailer (3 minutes 1 second – anamorphic widescreen), a Italian language trailer with English subtitles (3 minutes 3 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a poster & stills gallery titled “Marketing the Dead” that has music from the film playing in the background and a segment titled “Memories of the Maestro” (21 minutes 9 seconds) which includes comments from Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo, Antonella Interlenghi, Fabrizio Jovine, Michele Soavi, Adelaide Aste, Venantino Venantini, Luca Venantini, Gino De Rossi, Massimo Antonello Gelang, Fabio Frizzi, Roberto Forges Davenzati and Sergio Salvati. Other extras include interviews with Catriona MacColl (10 minutes 39 seconds) and Giovanni Lombardo Radice (9 minutes 49 seconds). Catriona MacColl discusses meeting Lucio Fulci for the first time, the violent tone of the script / film, Lucio Fulci’s reputation as being difficult to work with, the maggot scene, the coffin scene, Christopher George, Carlo De Mejo and her thoughts on the film. Giovanni Lombardo Radice discusses the script, his character, his performance, Lucio Fulci, the special effects involved with his death scene, zombie make up, on set stories and his thoughts on the film. The main extra included with this release is a documentary about the film (32 minutes 10 seconds) which includes comments from Catriona MacColl, Michele Soavi, Sergio Salvati, Massimo Antonello Gelang, Roberto Forges Davenzati, Gino De Rossi and Rosario Prestopino. Topics discussed include cast, locations, production related stories, the look of the film, special effects, all the film’s gore set pieces and there is also behind the scenes footage. All the extras are presented in HD. Overall City of the Living Dead gets a solid BluRay release from Blue Underground.