City of the Living Dead / Paura nella città dei morti viventi (1980)

4.0 out of 5

Lucio Fulci was at the top of his zombie game when he re-teamed with uncredited Zombi 2 scribe Dardano Sachetti to create this bizarre but even more nightmarish follow-up. With an atmosphere so thick you could stir it with a spoon, what it lacks in the excitement stakes compared to its predecessor is more than made up for by its sheer malevolence. The doses of humour that are to be found are of course largely unintentional.

The irascible director bravely decides to make a very different film from his recent hit, eschewing the voodoo-led goings on for a more Lovecraftian, vaguely surrealist approach, but he's all out to top even that past glory in the gore department. So, whereas Zombi 2 had the 'splinter-in-the-eye' scene, City of the Living Dead has the girl 'puking up her entire digestive tract' and 'John Morghen getting a drill through his head' scenes. Fabio Frizzi's doom-laden prog score is the perfect accompaniment, sending a chill down the spine whenever those two opening bars are heard.

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