Label - Cinema Cult (Shock)
Audio - English (Dolby TrueHD 2.0)
Region Coding - B
TV Standard - PAL
Rating - R18+
Year of Release - 1980
RRP: Price: $39.88
Approx: USD $35.35, GBP £21.85, EUR € 27,76, NZD $44.59
Author: James Ackland
First up I have to admit I'm no foreign horror buff like our lead editor John. That's kinda his thing and I've got mine, but as an introduction to some Italian gore... Lucio Fulci's Gate of hell trilogy has bitten me in a great way! For the first time these films are presented UNCUT and from what I've heard the original releases and VHS versions were butchered!! So having them uncut is a huge plus!
The "unofficial" trilogy consists of City of the Living dead (1980) The Beyond (1981) and The house by the cemetery (1981). So all films made in such a short time span and general story consistency could necessitate calling them a trilogy.
Watching the trilogy I was reminded of another fantastic gore feast in recent memory, Edgar Wrights Cornetto trilogy. Though the films are stand alone, they're related, both share some of the same cast, they're all full of great effects, deal with the living dead and although one is attempting to be funny the other is genuinely hilarious while terrifying.
The premise for each film is easy, someone has mistakenly opened a gate to HELL. Tricky thing is getting that sucker closed, because zombies are ripping peoples brains out left and right. Stabbing beautiful women through the head, making eyeballs bleed (which must have been a very uncomfortable effect for the cast).
City of the living dead stars Catriona McColl and Christopher George as they make there way to a small town where crazy things have happened after the suicide of the local priest. Little does the town (build upon SALEM!) suspect that when the priest died he opened non other than a GATE OF HELL!!! If the pair cannot close it before All saints day then the world is DOOMED!!! Some really impressive set pieces start to unfold and the blood flows with vigour. Local nut Bob is suspect and before we can give him the benefit of a doubt he's dispatched in really impressive effect... just check it out! Lovers in a car.. Rose is getting the willies! Well we'd better make her vomit her intestines out! A fantastic subplot involves the local bar flies and the bar owner gossiping like a murder of crows and the child in the movie is called John John... Awesome!!
Fabio frizzi's score reminded me a little of older Pink Floyd but at times the score is unceremoniously cut as the end of a scene.
If you love maggot showers then you have found the right movie!! So good!!
A hotel in Louisiana, a book... a GATE OF HELL!! After Catriona McColl inherits the hotel in which supernatural events have cursed the town buckets of blood will surely follow. Strange accidents occur, room numbers randomly ring. I'm getting the creeps already! Some amazing surreal shots on a highway above water remind me of Requiem for a dream and definitely spice up the locations a bit. Acid face wash, a VERY creepy/funny spider attack and a brutal dog attack. This is film of set pieces and the odd plot turns it takes to get to them. Fulci must've had a larger budget for this one as the film quality has obviously improved, which also helps in the blu-ray transfer. The colours are brighter and sharper and overall the film is much stronger than City of the living dead.
The house by the cemetery is a film I'd known about through still photographs in old horror magazines and the fact that Margaret Thatchers British censors branded it a Video nasty!! So I was very excited for this one. A family move to a large house where a doctor was experimenting with some questionable research. And guess what? Said research opens other… burger chain… nope, A GATE OF HELL! The doctors young son, awkwardly named Bob befriends a dead ghost girl and is lured towards the gate and certain death! This flick reminded me of the Evil dead and even some elements of The Shining! So much so the original poster art ripped off an iconic shot of Jack Nicholson.
This film is a classic example of what NOT to do when you open a gate of hell. At no time doesn't anyone think "let's just get the hell outta here!" When Paolo Malco Is attacked by a zombie vampire bat... Don't stab it with a knife while it's still attached to your hand!
Oh and don't call your cherub looking little boy BOB! It's very awkward when your calling him in for supper!!
I'm assuming this to be Fulci's golden era, but correct me if I'm wrong. Each film has lovely camera work by Sergio Salvati and great musical scores by Fabio frizzi and Walter Rizzati.
A constant barrage of close up of characters eyes keeps the tension high and allows to cheat a little in revealing the next zombie to appear. I can imagine the editing phase and Fulci's just yelling for more close ups! It's intense!!
Catriona McColl is the through-line in this series. Mixing it up when she needs to, conveying terror in spades and really, it must have been tough to deal with some of the effects and smells in these films. I'll look forward to checking out her other flicks.
The dubbing in these films isn't fantastic, a mix of Italian and American actors is never going to be clean, so it took me awhile to get used to. Kind of like the contact lenses I'm trialling... much like the creepy ones in The Beyond!!
All in all I loved these pictures, but The Beyond stands out as far as story, cinematography and effects.
If you were fortunate to win a copy in our first GIVE AWAY from Shock! hit us up with your thoughts and share your favourite moments!!!
City of the living dead 4/5
The Beyond 4/5
The house by the cemetery 3/5
The films are presented in their original aspect ratios of 1.85:1. Looking pretty good for films that have been sitting in some cans for the last few years. The Beyond really stands out as a highpoint of them all. Bright colours pop and there seems to be very little damage to the print. And all gloriously UNCUT!!
Sounds fantastic! Presented in 2.0 surround its a absolute pleasure to open the windows and let the neighbours spend the night near a GATE OF HELL!!
Probably the best your going to get when films could not have extra crew to record the making of. Interviews, Q&As really allow little details of the films history come to the surface. Some trailers and some great retrospective featurettes flesh out this great set.
Commentary with Antonella Fulci & Calum Waddell
Commentary with David Warbeck & Catriona Maccoll
Cinzia Monreale Remembers 'The Beyond'
'The Beyond' Q & A With Catriona Maccoll
City Of The Living Dead
Commentary with Giovanni Lombardo Radice
Commentary with Catriona Maccoll & Jay Slater
Fulci In The House – The Italian Master Of Splatter
Carlo Of The Living Dead – Surviving Fulci Fear
Dame Of The Dead – Catriona Maccoll Returns
Fulci’s Daughter – Memories Of The Italian Gore Maestro
Penning Some Paura – Dardano Sacchetti Remembers City Of The Living Dead
Profondo Luigi – A Colleague’s Memories Of Lucio Fulci
Live From The Glasgow Theatre
The Many Lives (& Deaths) Of Giovanni Lombardo Radice
Gallery Of The Living Dead
The House By The Cemetery
Commentary with Silvia Collatina & Mike Baronas
Back To The Cellar – An Interview With Giovanni Frezza
Cemetery Woman – An Interview With Catriona Maccoll
Finishing The Final Fulci – An Interview With Sergio Stivaletti
Freudstein’s Follies – An Interview With Giannetto De Rossi
Ladies Of Italian Horror
Overall 4/5 (Recommend)