Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Lucio Fulci.
Starring Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Michele Soavi, Daniela Doria.
Horror, Italy, 93 mins, cert 18.

Released in the UK on Limited Edition 4K UHD via Arrow Video on 25th March 2024.


Following on from last year’s 4K UHD release of Lucio Fulci’s THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, Arrow Video have turned their attention to another of Fulci’s so-called ‘Gates of Hell Trilogy’ titles with 1980s CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (which means you know what will be coming soon… hopefully).


As with all the movies in the trilogy, plot is not the number one concern when it comes to appreciating this movie, so it is just as well Fulci and his crew went all out with the atmospherics, creating one of the most haunting interpretations of Lovecraftian horror ever put on film. Winds howl and mists swirl in the town of Dunwich as a priest hangs himself, opening up one of the gates of hell that allows all manner of creepy events to happen, as psychic Mary Woodhouse (Catriona MacColl) and dogged journalist Peter Bell (Christopher George) try and close the gate forever.


As to what the evil is, we are never sure because there isn’t a singular creature that appears or anyone to tell us what is happening and why. Instead, people start seeing visions of the hanged priest and weird things start to happen, such as a young woman vomiting up all her intestines in the most memorable gore scene of the movie. Another man becomes so enraged with Giovanni Lombardo Radice that he drills through his head on a workbench – a scene that fell foul of the BBFC and was cut out back in 1982 – in what seems like something of an overreaction. What is the evil that is taking over the town of Dunwich? Doesn’t really matter, as this is a Lucio Fulci movie and not knowing why things happen is part of the fun.


For his part, Christopher George is a likeable lead, although he does seem to be smirking at something we can’t see for most of it, but he did that in most of the movies he starred in. Catriona MacColl is a Fulci regular and her partnership with George is charming enough, but Giovanni Lombardo Radice feels very underused here, only really appearing for his big moment on the drilling lathe, otherwise he is just skulking around and looking moody. It is also nice to see Dario Argento collaborator Michele Soavi in the small but crucial role of the boyfriend of the woman with the intestinal soup, as well as Lucio Fulci himself also popping up with his regular cameo.


But is it worth the upgrade of you already have the previous remastered Arrow Blu-ray? A matter for your eyes, ears and wallet really, as although the picture is probably as good as it is ever likely to look, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD is fairly dreary when it comes to its colour palette. Yes, the intestine and drill scenes look glorious, but given how visually bleak this movie is generally, the upgrade does not feel significant enough so unless you are a completist it may not be worth the double dip. Nevertheless, as a movie, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD still manages to conjure up an effectively chilling atmosphere with some bloody and memorable deaths, just don’t expect much else. Now then Arrow, bring on THE BEYOND…


Chris Ward.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans