May 19, 2014

Blu-ray Essentials: City of the Living Dead (1980)
City of the Living Dead (1980)
Price: Currently $15.88 on Amazon (click the pic above to order.)
1 50GB Blu-ray disc
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
English: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
English: Dolby Digital Mono
English, Spanish, French.
Region Free

Lucio Fulci strikes Zombie gold again with what might be our favorite of his films; not because it's his best (I still think that The Beyond and Zombie are better films), but something about this one just sticks with us. Maybe it's the way that a girl throws up her intestines on camera; maybe it's the slow and painful "drill to the head" scene; maybe it's the sick music that still makes us wet ourselves when we hear it; or maybe it's the the ending that makes absolutely no sense, and yet is perfectly fitting. Maybe we just love Italian Zombie movies.

How can you not love Italian Zombie movies!?!
The plot goes like this: While performing a seance, a medium has a vision of a Priest hanging himself, in the quiet little New England town of Dunwich. The medium dies of fright (for a while, anyhow), and the unholy suicide opens the gates of hell, thus dooming the world! It's up to big city reporter Peter Bell and the newly-resurrected medium to race to Dunwich and close the portal to hell, or else the dead will rise up all over the world, and I guess, eat everything. I don't know, it's all in the Book of Enoch?

No bitch, I'm not familiar with the Book of Enoch!
So the plot is silly, and a lot of it makes no effing sense at all, but you'll be hard pressed to find another Zombie flick that delivers the goods like City of the Living Dead does. I mean this is a movie where Zombies appear and disappear using what I'm assuming is some sort of teleportation, so we're not talking about your average run-of-the-mill undead flick here. Lucio Fulci always had crazy vision with each of his projects, and yes, a lot of times that vision made no fucking sense whatsoever, but the onscreen results were nothing short of hypnotizing, because they tended to be so far "out there." This film is a great example of that dynamic.

Those crazy Italian Horror movie endings though...
City of The Living Dead (aka The Gates of Hell) is a crazy atmospheric and creepy movie; so much so that at times it feels very heavy-handed. Fabrizio Frizzi's excellent score stands today as one of the most effective we've ever heard, and it's so good and important to the film that it really deserves to be considered a character of its own. Speaking of characters (and the actors that portray them), we get to enjoy both Christopher George and Catriona MacColl in this movie, both of whom are classics in their own right.

An all-time classic scene.
Lucio Fulci was a mad genius, and anyone who tells you any different is just wrong, and you should not listen to anything that they have to say, ever again. As an example of Fulci's mad genius, he made Daniella Doria swallow and then regurgitate a plate of tripe for this movie's famous "Intestine vomiting scene." If that's not maverick filmmaking, I don't know what is.

That poor girl.
Having owned this movie on both VHS and DVD, it's a wonderful thing to finally be able to finally enjoy one of our favorite Fulci classics in 1080p quality. Mastered from the original  unedited camera negative, this disc boasts some solid black levels, plenty of film grain (which we love), great detail in most scenes, and a limited amount of distracting black crush and other digital noise. 

It looks old and it feels old, but this release from Blue Underground is about as crisp and visually pleasing as we could hope for, and it proves that Blu-ray is really the only way to watch this movie, imperfections and all. This is likely as gorgeous as this movie will ever be.

Well, they seem stunned by the visual presentation of this disc, so...
The lossless track that we listened to sounded great, even though it was hardly reference quality. For audio simpletons like us, Blue Underground did a great job with the subtle 7.1 mix here.

Blue Underground has included a nice array of Special Features on this disc, a few of which are even in HD quality. Diehard fans will eat these interviews and the documentaries right up.
  • "The Making of City of the Living Dead" (Documentary)
  • Interview with Star Catriona MacColl HD
  • Interview with Star Giovanni Lombardo Radice
  • "Memories of the Maestro" (Featurette)
  • Posters and Stills Gallery HD
  • Theatrical Trailers HD
  • Radio Spots and Still Gallery
"Look at all of those features!"
For us, City of the Living Dead is Fulci at his gory and creepy best; it's not necessarily his best film, but what he gives us here is so memorable and effective that we just can't help but exalt it as our sentimental fave. The only way to witness this crazy movie is on Blu-ray, and thankfully Blue Underground, as usual, has given we fanatics an excellent disc boasting an excellent transfer and solid extras.

"Are you familiar with the Book of Enoch?" If not, you should be.


City of the Living Dead is the first part of Lucio Fulci's "Gates of Hell Trilogy," which also includes The Beyond and House By the Cemetery. All three flicks are entertaining and well worth a look.

No comments :

Post a Comment