Monday, 24 May 2010

Final Girl Film Club - City of the Living Dead

I've always wanted to join in one of Final Girl's Film Clubs and decided City of the Living dead was the one to do it, especially as it just got a shiny new re-release in the UK today., I wonder what the Book of Enoch had to say about that little slice of fate! So even though I have no idea how to write a review, a synopsis, a retrospective or any such quality writing, I had to join in. Apologies if this post is very haphazard and simply follows the Friedkin school of DVD commentary, merely describing in monotonous detail all that you see before you. In fact things may become so tedious they may even make your eyes bleed!

See what I did there...

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For those of you who are wondering what on earth could shatter the imagination more than that ladies shameless breaking of the fourth wall, here is exactly what kind of horror is transpiring at that very moment!

Shocking isn't it? Yep, the gates of hell have been opened and what better way to illustrate this than having the legendary sleaze master Giovanni Lombardo Radice preparing to get his freak on with a sex doll. He play's Bob, the town idiot who is apparently some kind of sex pest though he seems incredibly popular with the young ladies of Dunwich (the movies titular Hamlet/City of the Living Dead). Not so the menfolk however, who would like nothing better than to see him fry. That sex doll by the way is a sex doll he just found in the fireplace of some spooky old house. That kind of thing never happened to Abbot and Costello! Unfortunately his special moment is interrupted by the discovery of what may be a corpse, or what may equally be a pile of spaghetti in the shape of a corpse it could go either way. Let's see what Bob thinks...

an idiot, yesterday

Actually, that's his reaction to the sex doll. If you look carefully there is a little coy shyness about him. Awww, bless. Go feel her boobies Bob, you sweaty freak... But I'm getting ahead of myself here, what exactly is City of the Living Dead about? Well if you know your vintage Italian Horror, you'll know that the likelihood of there being an actual City is slim and you'll be lucky to get any living dead too. But in this case you get both, though obviously not near each other. Our action begins in a spoooky old graveyard where we find Father Thomas taking a stroll amongst the rolling mist. He spies a branch which takes his fancy, slips over the noose and hangs himself.

Why? Who the hell knows. Not Mary, that's for sure. Poor Mary is in New York (A City) having a seance. Seances are so Sixties, Mary, you want to get hip and buy yourself a Ouija, that's what all the cool kids are doing! She has a vision of the hanging priest and wouldn't you know it she dies of fright! Right there and then! Dead! So dead in fact that when they put her in the ambulance it drives away with it's sirens blaring, such is the deadfulness of her deadness. Now it doesn't take long for our intrepid reporter, Peter, to arrive on the scene and start sniffing out the mystery.

nudge, nudge, wink, wink

Unfortunately even the promise of a little man on man action doesn't seem to be enough to get him past the police guard so he has to do his investigating elsewhere. What better way to crack the mystery than to just randomly hang around Mary's grave talking to the two guys who I guess are meant to be grave diggers.
Wedding Crashers 2 - Grave Diggers
Now I'm not sure exactly what part of grave digging they were up to, but I'm thinking they were volunteer grave diggers or perhaps graved digging is their hobby as they appear to have dug up an old grave. After randomly fiddling with the skeleton they then move on to an equally half arsed job of burying Mary about six inches below the ground.

They soon knock this meager task on the head too and decide it's quitting time. Unfortunately for Mary however she has just come back from the dead! Not in the zombie way of course, she's much too near civilisation for that, but still no one wants to be buried beneath what must be at least five handfuls of dirt, not Uma Thurman, not Sandra Bullock and not Mary! But help is at hand! Peter hears Mary's cries for help and he's a man with a plan! Unfortunately that plan is the same plan Harry Warden had in My Bloody Valentine...

You big dumb bastard...

Still, if the sight of the worlds most intense priest swinging from a tree doesn't do you in, the valiant swinging of ace reporter Peter Bell is not a problem. Soon Mary is well enough to join Peter in their search for the Dunwich, the titular City of the Living Dead (pop. 8). They know not where to even look, but as it turns out Peter has his own vintage form of Eighties Sat Nav and before you know it, our dynamic duo arrive to save the day.
the good, the brat and the useless

Fulci rounds out his cast with the usual suspects of Italian Gore (Bearded Man, Annoying Kid and Useless Woman) to make sure that the more sticky end of the horror movie spectrum is taken care of whilst our heroes drive round aimlessly and stop for snacks.

One Priest, No Cup

There's the infamous 'Girl Spews Up Her Guts' scene where something disgusting happens, though I can't quite remember what now. And then there's the whole Bob Vs Power Drill interface. Now, I saw this particular clip awhile back, and was left thoroughly confused. I could not work out for the life of me who the zombie was in the scene. Was it Angry Dad McHead Driller? Surely not, he's too angry and Daddish. Then it must be the other guy, though he does seem to be acutely aware of what's about to happen...In the end of course it doesn't matter, Fulci wanted a head drilling scene and it was obviously some kind of creative stretch to put a zombie in that scene too.
The towns inhabitants try to figure out where everyone else went

And so the ooky goings on continue until eventually the towns inhabitants dwindle down from around eight to around three and it is up to our small band of survivors to join forces and destroy evil the only way they know how - Close your eyes and hope the zombie goes away!

I do believe in spooks, I do!

A winning strategy such as this can only really go on for so long and s
oon it's time for a more aggressive form of attack - The patented Giant Crucifix to the Zombie Gonads manoeuvre!


Yes, for once we actually have a
happy ending in a zombie movie! Except Fulci obviously didn't actually want a happy ending and did a reshoot. Only he didn't even do that. He did this (spoilers, I guess)...

I literally have no idea.

Gah, there's nothing like a Fulci Zombie flick to make you feel positively nauseous. Not that City of the Living Dead is the most outrageously gory film out there, it's most infamous scene is little more than you could see for yourself in a butchers window (literally). No, the difference between a Fulci Zombie and a Romero Zombie is a matter of class. Savini's effects were so masterful they almost look real. The effects in these movies are all ooze and offal. I can practically smell the rank stench of rotten meat and cheap rubber here, and it makes me sick.

Oh yeah, and this happens at some point.

That's what hits me with a gore film, the cheapness. Saw and Hostel were no problem because they were well made. Redneck Zombies turned my stomach precisely because it looked cheap and fake. When Giovanni Lombardo Radice (yep, him again) has his manhood scarfed on by a native in Cannibal Ferox, I find it hard to watch as it is clearly made from something akin to foam latex. But sickening effects aside, what did I think of City of the Dead, aka The Gates of Hell? Well, not unlike it's Brother in Sleaze The Beyond this isn't really a zombie flick, more a supernatural gorefest with zombies in it. However these zombies are you're good old fashioned Eurotrash zombies, all pus and maggots, so it's definitely value for money in that department. You even get a zombie rising from the grave, and anyone familiar with my thoughts on Good Corpse/Bad Corpse knows my feelings on that (ie. I love it!).


The characters in this movie are obviously paper thin cliches straight from a Seventies cop show, but you know what? I liked that, I liked the fact that they were likeable, I liked their can do attitude. These days when every character in a horror movie is either unlikeable and douchey, or a complete misery it makes a nice change to actually route for a character like Pete and his cigar chompin', hard drinkin' ways.


City of the Living Dead gave me everything I could want from a Fulci Zombie movie, and actually gave me a semi coherent plot too which was a bonus. I give it 4 religious effigies to the nuts out of 5! Of course badly dubbed, non sensical gorefests like this aren't to everyone's tastes and most peoples idea of a good time, but to those people I just tell 'em what Sgt Clay has to say-


CWL said...

GREAT review and I am captivated by your layout (and I am stealing SEX PEST and adding to the big old list of names of bands that I will never form [lazy])!

Fear on Friday said...

Thanks, just been running through your reviews. How awesome to see Troop Beverley Hills reviewed alongside City of the Living Dead. Awesome.