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Askew Review 15

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CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (Anchor Bay) DVD. 1980. Horror. 93 minutes. NR, violence, gore. Directed by Lucio Fulci. In Dunwich, a priest hangs himself in a cemetery unlocking the gates to Hell, which will allow the dead to roam the earth in three days time. In New York, Mary has a vision of the hanging and is made aware of the ensuing consequences.  Oh, Mary dies after seeing the vision, but she isn’t really dead and is rescued from her grave by Peter, a streetwise reporter. As Mary and Peter head off to Dunwich to save the world, the small town is riddled with strange murders and even stranger happenings. One being a woman who pukes her guts out (literally) and then squishes her lover’s brains out. After finding the body of an old woman in her house, Emily calls her shrink Jerry to start their own little investigation. Soon, the two couples meet and enter the family tomb of the priest to take on zombies and demons.
       Although utterly ridiculous, this is a fun and gory movie. Firstly, why is it up to the four rag tag main characters to save the world from the walking dead? Shouldn’t that be the job of the Pope, or at least a “good” priest? Hell, nobody even calls the cops in this movie, they all call the town shrink for help. Maybe it’s just me, but if I ever found a dead body in my house the first place I’d call is the police station (after I rummage through the corpse’s pockets for loose change of course), not my shrink. And when are people going to learn that when your house walls bleed and the windows fire shards of glass at you, it time to get the fuck out of Dodge and not try to “sleep it off.” The zombies also just appear and disappear instead of lumbering around after people like most other zombies. I found that to be most unfair to the “living” people. The characters in the film also flinch in reaction to startling moments BEFORE they happen. What is it with Italian made movies and little boys? They all seem to have young boys as one of the main characters and this one is no different. The ending of this one appears choppy and I have no idea what the very last scene was all about. On the positive side, the gore effects are pretty damn cool. The woman puking her guts out is ucky. Although most of the scene is fake, the actress did have to actually spew sheep innards out of her mouth. There is also a head drilling scene that impressed me. The sound (Dolby 5.1) heard on this DVD is phenomenal. It adds a ton of eeriness to the film’s atmosphere. The whirling wind coming from my rear speakers had me thinking it was really windy outside and I peered out my window more than once for a look see. The video is just ok, but there is really nothing visually stimulating about this flic anyway. The picture (Widescreen 1.85:1, Enhanced for 16x9 TVs) is a tad grainy, but the colors do stand out nicely. Features include a short Fulci bio, the theatrical trailer, and radio spots. Yes, I bitched a lot, but I enjoyed this Italian gore film. The pacing is a lot better than most other Italian movies and the gore was enjoyable. This DVD is a must for fans of Fulci and gore flics. All others will be on shaky ground. – Denis Sheehan


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