Monday, April 24, 2017

Buried Alive in the 80’s, or Thoughts on Lucio Fulci’s City of The Living Dead

Catriona MacColl, who we could easily describe as director Lucio Fulci’s Jamie LeeCurtis, is indeed buried alive after having a vision of a suicidal priest in a cemetery that opens the Gates of Hell during a séance (hang on, the whole movie is this convoluted) in City of The Living Dead (Paura nella città dei morti, 1980).  These are the same Gates of Hell mentioned a year later in The Beyond (E tu vivrai nel terrore! L'aldilà ,1981), also starring Catriona MacColl.  Hell has a lot of gates, 7 according to Lucio Fulci and when you open one of those gates the dead rise and presto, instant zombie movie.
With a chaotic, confusing plot, but plenty of living dead biting people, Lucio Fulci’s directing style always seemed to focus more towards the surreal and repulsive rather than abject terror.  The movie features a bounty of in-camera, practical effects that range from the super-gross to the downright magical, including the vomiting entrails scene, the horizontal drill press to the head, the flying maggot storm and the crying tears of blood (it’s one shot, no editing, and it’s simply sublime).
Catriona MacColl would go on to star in Lucio Fulci’s The House by the Cemetery (1981), completing his Gates of Hell Trilogy.  But Lucio Fulci specialized in demonic, supernatural zombies, as a Catholic director from the one of the world’s most Catholic-y countries. 
Supernatural zombies have fallen out of vogue; starting in 1968 with George A. Romero’s Night of The Living Dead the modern zombie has consistently had a science fiction or a bio-horror origin.  It’s always a virus, genetic modification, or radiation from a satellite.  You would think director Ed Wood would actually get more credit for Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959), which as you know concerned the reanimation of the recently departed through the stimulation of the pineal gland to facilitate an alien invasion.   There have been exceptions, the Spanish Rec (2007) series had satanic zombies, though it's interesting to note that the US remake (of course there was a remake, do you think we have time to watch subtitles) Quarantine (2008) threw out the religious angle and made it an old-fashioned found footage bio-horror.  In America there's this disturbing trend to demonize science and legitimize religion, but that's a subject for a different blog, and a different blogger.

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