City of the Living Dead

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

If The Seven Gates of Hell were ever to open, it would mean the dead could rise from the graves, to walk among the living. This would mean serious problems, since zombies and humans don’t mix too well, to say the least. But this could never happen, right? When a priest hangs himself in a small New England town, it opens one of the doors and in three short days, the unthinkable will happen and then some. Now the fate of the world rests in the hands of news reporter Peter (Christopher George) and a young psychic woman Mary (Catriona MacColl), who must travel to the town and try to close the portals before it is too late. The name of the priest’s town is Dunwich and once the two arrive there, they join forces with a psychiatrist Gerry (Carlo De Mejo) and one his patients, Sandra (Janet Agren). This means double the manpower and that is good news, since this will not be a simple mission to reverse the process. Can these people find a way to close the portals, or will the dead begin to rise and wage war on the living?

I have lived the days of watching hacked up Lucio Fulci films and longed for the uncut editions, which is one the main reasons I love Anchor Bay Entertainment so much. As they’ve done with many other directors, this studio has taken several of Fulci’s films and restored them to the intended length, which results in a massive treat for genre fans. As part of their Lucio Fulci Collection, Anchor Bay has released City of the Living Dead, which is a must see for fans of Fulci’s cinema. As veterans of Fulci know, he loves to use blood & guts to shock his audience and that is obvious here, with a wealth of gore laden death sequences. If you’re simply looking to watch a movie with loads of blood, this one is up to the task, with drill to the head, brain consuming, and one of the best vomit scenes ever all on the menu, plus lots of other antics. I suppose this movie falters a little in terms of acting and storyline, but on the usual horror scale, it’s more than up to the genre standards. I highly recommend this picture, especially in uncut form and with a lush visual transfer, which is what Anchor Bay has supplied here.

At the helm here is Lucio Fulci, which means this one has plenty of style, intense visuals, and of course, tons of gore. This is not Fulci’s best film by any means, but it does have all of his trademarks and makes an excellent addition to his resume. As fans would expect, City of the Living Dead packs a bloody punch and then some, with lots of the red stuff to be seen. In other words, if head drilling sends you running for the doors, this isn’t the flick you should rent. Fulci could blend violence, visuals, and suspense very well and while this isn’t the best example of that, you can see his fingerprints from start to finish. This might not be Fulci’s finest effort, but fans of his work and European horror should still give this one a look. Other films directed by Fulci include The Smuggler, The New York Ripper, The Black Cat, The Beyond, and Demonia. The cast here includes Christopher George (Pieces, El Dorado), Catriona MacColl (The Beyond, Poisoned Ink), and Carlo De Mejo (Manhattan Baby, The Dead are Alive).

Video: How does it look?

City of the Living Dead is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I’ve never seen an acceptable version of this film on home video, so I wasn’t sure what to expect here, to say the least. But this is a vast improvement over previous editions, with a cleaner source print and sharper overall image. The colors look a tad washed out at times, but still come off in bolder form that ever before, to be sure. The contrast is stark and consistent also, with no real errors to discuss, very impressive. This edition still shows a lot of grain however, which lessens the visual impact at times. Even so, this is the best home video treatment to date for this movie, which means fans should be most pleased indeed.

Audio: How does it sound?

I didn’t expect much from the included Dolby Digital 5.1 option, as this film is an older one and these remixes sometimes turn out poorly. But as has often been the case with Anchor Bay’s 5.1 remixes, this one turns out great and in the end, the added audio presence enhances the experience much more than expected. The film’s eerie atmosphere is added to by this soundtrack, via subtle touches in the surrounds, as well as a few power spots, just to get a rise out of the audience. The vocals are never lost in the process however, always clean and crisp, free from volume errors. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround track, in case you’d rather use that.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes two radio spots (with stills shown as the spots are played), a talent file on Fulci, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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