City Of The Living Dead / Paura nella città dei morti viventi (1980)

3.5 out of 5

Surely etched in the memory of those old enough to have enjoyed the VHS revolution is the name Charles Hamm. Dear Charles, status formally deceased, was born 1809 and, to borrow a phrase from Shakespeare's Hamlet, shuffled off this mortal coil aged thirty eight only to find himself shuffling back onto said coil at the beginning of the 1980s.

City Of The Living Dead certainly is an interesting film. Without doubt it will alienate as many as it is likely to make into Lucio Fulci converts but nevertheless it marked the start of a thematically and aesthetically engrossing period of the director's work.

Following hot on the heels of Fulci's only foray into the world of Eurocrime with Contraband, and possibly almost a decade after his most visually stunning works, the film introduced what many fans consider to be a trilogy though the term only applies loosely and informally. There was after all no official trilogy as such and the director did return to the themes of the afterlife time and again with The Devil's Honey being mooted as a secrets of the beyond and films such as Voices From Beyond, Door To Silence and Demonia continuing the theme long after this horror triptych.

Occasionally confusing, as would befit the opening of a gateway to hell, the Lovecraft inspired City Of The Living Dead sees yet another purchase of agricultural real estate by the ever unlucky Giovanni Lombardo Radice as the imbecilic Bob while jolly hockey sticks Fulci scream queen Catriona MacColl gets sandblasted with maggots.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics