One week before Halloween and still a lot of movies I did not talked about it. I will therefore speedup and propose a daily post to cover up the most essential movies collection. Tonight we are getting back to Fulci with the first movie of his unofficial trilogy “Gates of Hell”, that will also include “The Beyond” and “The House by The Cemetery”. In this one, we have again the presence of living dead but this one is way more gore than the previous movie. “City of the Living Dead” aka “Frayeurs” in French, a movie that haunted me during my childhood just by evokating VHS cover of it.
The plot is a bit weird but damn efficient and insane for the dose of gore. The movie starts with a priest hanging himself in a cemetery in the town of Dunwich (anyone see the reference to HP Lovecraft here?), we don’t know much why but this scene is the trigger of all the events in this movie. It starts with the opening sequence with the music of Fabio Frizzi that will give this heavy and oppressive music all along the movie. It is followed by a session of mediums, as if they experienced the event or forecasted it, with one of them, Mary, fall on the floor, apparently dead. The mediums warn the police officers that came to investigate the death that the evil is in town. A passing by journalist, Peter, is intrigued by these claims and this death and investigate. The day after, Mary is freshly buried when suddenly she wakes up from her torpor, yelling for her life. Peter hearing the sound, come and try to break the coffin using a pickaxe. This scene is surely what has inspired Quentin Tarantino in “Kill Bill”, in the chapter “The Grave of Paula Schultz”.
Things become even weirder when Bob, a young greaser, adventures into an abandoned house to see an inflatable doll suddenly inflates. First surprised he rapidly get disturbed when this doll starts to bleed out maggots from her orifice. Later on, Bob and Emily witness the first apparition of the deceased father, that literarily results in Emily’s eyes bleeding followed by a complete internal liquefaction of her body. Bob, considered as the murderer of Emily, is savagely taken apart by a mob, with his head drilled by Emily’s father himself! Evisceration, internal organs liquefactions, brain squeezing are some of the hallmark of the movie. It also has a very disturbing ending, as Mary and Peter manage to destroy the dead priest, escape from a graveyard to just hear Mary screaming. We never know what Mary saw and what happened. Are Mary and Peter became living dead? Are the rest of Dunwich became living dead?
These are the hallmarks of Fulci movies, a very dark ending, in which the main protagonists are trapped in the same nightmare than they just managed to escape. Some people suggest that this is a direct reflection of Fulci atheism, translating that death is only the final, with no happy ending as religion tells us (Paradise). This is a great movie if you want to see some genuine horror movies from the 80s. Something you will not see anymore nowadays.