ZombiSurvivor’s Retro Review: City Of The Living Dead (1980)

It’s February boils and ghouls, and that can mean only one thing! It’s time for our second annual FULCI FEBRUARY! Last year’s dedication to the Italian Godfather of Gore was a smashing success! With multiple movie reviews, a Horror Icon tribute to Fulci and an entire podcast dedicated to the man and his under-appreciated career in horror! With that being said, since we have covered a bunch of his films already, there aren’t many remaining that we haven’t. Today, we are going to briefly look at the first installment of Fulci’s masterpiece, The Gates of Hell Trilogy.

City of the Living Dead aka Paura nella citta dei morti viventi (1980)


The film starts in a foggy and creepy cemetery in the small town of Dunwich. Where we see an apparently disparaged priest named Father Thomas hang himself from a large tree. With his suicide, he intentionally opened the gates of hell, where the dead will come back to take life from the living. Not too far away a séance is being held in New York. A psychic, Mary played by Catriona MacColl (The Beyond, House by the Cemetery), witnesses the suicide during the ritual and then dies herself. As Mary is about to be buried and laid to rest, she miraculously comes back to life inside her coffin. She’s saved in the nick of time by a nosey, pick ax-wielding reporter named Peter (Christopher George, Graduation Day). Together they are determined and will stop at nothing to close the gate to hell forever. Can they close the gate? Or is it already too late and the world is doomed by the rise of the living dead?

“The soul that pines for eternity shall outspan death… You, dweller of the twilight void, COME!”

Fresh off the international success of his 1979 hit Zombie, which is an unofficial sequel to George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, Fulci comes out swinging for the fences once again. Together with long-time writing partner Dardano Sacchetti, they crafted a truly bleak and horrific film, where we soon see how hopeless humanity can be in the face of a supernatural apocalypse. As with almost all of Fulci’s horror films, there are amazing make-up special effects and of course, EPIC amounts of gore. Both of which, are done on a shoe string budget, with the tears of blood and tripe spewing scene easily sticking out as the most memorable moment of the film. So fucking gruesome!!!!

Back with another dose of a brooding and foreboding synth score, who is also another long-time collaborator of Fulci’s, is the amazingly talented composer Fabio Frizzi. Composing pretty much every great Fulci horror film, Frizzi’s music has truly stood the test of time. He is still touring to this day, sharing the music he made for Fulci years ago, to new generations of gore hounds.

If you haven’t seen City of the Living Dead yet, you need to rectify this mistake immediately. Because while it is only one-third of the Gates of Hell trilogy, it is quite possibly the most well-rounded film of the three. Obviously, The Beyond is still my favorite of the bunch, but City feels like a thicker film that has a bit more depth to it. But please, don’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself!

IMDb: 6.3/10

ZombiSurvivor: 8.6/10

Thanks for reading! And as always, remember to….



About Jared Letourneau 189 Articles
Hey there boils and ghouls! My love of horror films came on a dark and stormy night.... ....Truthfully, it probably happened in 1980-something during a sunny day when I was 5 or 6. That movie was JAWS. I had never been so terrified to go swimming and I live in a land-locked state! I have been a Horror Hound ever since. Having seen hundreds of films, some good and some downright dreadful, my love for horror cinema has grown stronger than ever! My wife Beth and I consume all types of horror films. One of our mutual favorites is A Serbian Film (2010). A couple of my favorite directors are Lucio Fulci and John Carpenter. Contributing here at T.H.S and being able to work with these other folks is an indescribable honor to me. I love our T.H.S team.... I will share secrets after a few drinks and I also enjoy long romantic walks in dimly-lit cemeteries. My fave top 5 films are: 1)Dawn Of The Dead (Original) 2)The Thing (Carpenter's Remake) 3)Zombie 4)The Beyond 5)Friday the 13th pt IV: The Final Chapter Stay Scared! -ZombiSurvivor