I Can’t Rest In Pieces Until I’ve Screamed About “City of the Living Dead”

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city of the living dead

“City of the Living Dead” aka “The Gates of Hell” (1980) one of the quintessential Luci Fulci zombie movies, is about a news reporter and a psychic that race against time to close the Gates of Hell before they are opened for good. As once the Gates open, the dead dig out of their graves and seek out human flesh!




A mysterious priest named William Thomas walks among the headstones of an ancient graveyard in Dunwich, Massachusetts. A psychic named Mary Woodhouse takes part in a seance in New York City that connects her mentally to Thomas as he hangs himself in the cemetery, which kills both himself and poor Mary.


City of the Living Dead


His death begins the first rumblings that will open the Gates of Hell; causing all sorts of delightful troubles as the rotting dead rise and consume the living. Storms of maggots coat folks in wriggling layers of filth, and several unfortunate souls get the back of their heads ripped off. It’s a disturbingly effective finishing move used by the ghouls.


If you like exposed brains, have I got a movie for you!



A reporter (Christopher George of “Pieces”) gets involved and winds up rescuing Mary from her grave as she returns to screaming life inside her coffin after being buried. This scene, in which Mary shreds the sating lining of her coffin lid as her hero rams a pick axe through it, is one of many highlights of Lucio Fulci’s masterpiece. These two crazy kids set off on a road trip to the village of Dunwich, which was built on the ruins of Salem. They have two days to prevent the opening of the Gates of Hell.


Do they make it in time? You’ll have to watch the movie and find out for yourself! No Spoilers here folks!

But enough about plot. Let’s talk about the gorgeous imagery and gore.


  • A woman who looks too deeply into the resurrected Father Thomas’s evil eyes (in a moment that recalls the Christopher Lee Dracula films) weeps blood and then vomits up her entrails, followed by our first taste of brain squishing. I absolutely love this scene!
  • A young man gets a massive industrial drill through the head. Fantastic practical effects.
  • Gruesome blood-soaked zombies appear and disappear, occasionally crushing a skull or two.
  • In a cave beneath the town cemetery corpses hang down out of the earthy ceiling.
  • Several horrifically decomposed bodies and pieces are discovered covered in insects.
  • Crimson-eyed rats eat a victim’s brain through his skull. Awesome!
  • The night scenes, especially in the Dunwich graveyard, are chock full of evil fog.

I may get punched in the face for saying this, but I wasn’t a big admirer of Fulci’s “The Beyond” aka “Seven Doors Of Death.” It was too meandering, too aimless and abstract. “House By The Cemetery”, on the other hand, killed! I loved every minute of it, but during “The Beyond” I just sat there thinking “There sure is some weird stuff going on in that hotel. Meh.”

“City Of The Living Dead” may top them all. (Except Zombi’s Girl vs Zombie vs Shark scene. Nothing will ever be as cool as that.) It feels like a stronger linear narrative than some of Lucio’s other stuff, but retains his knack for incredible effects-filled death scenes and rich, spooky atmosphere. The man is a true artist, a bona fide master of horror, and that is not a term I use frequently.


Treat yourself to one of Fulci’s best and watch this movie. You won’t regret it!








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About Brundlefly Joe

Brundlefly Joe has acted in a few zero budget horror films, including playing the amazing Victim #2 in the short film "Daisy Derkins, Dogsitter of the Damned! (2008)." He has been busy creating film submission for Project 21 and other Philadelphia based film groups. Joe went to college for Film and Animation, and has made several short animation and film pieces. He loves to draw and paint and read; sometimes the same time! His passions include 1980's slasher movies, discovering new music, gobbling up Mexican food, buying stuff on Amazon, chilling with his lovely cat, watching movies involving Marvel superheroes, playing video games and cooking. He loves to cook. Like, a lot. Seriously. Brundleflies have four arms. He can cook two different dishes at the same time. He's great to have at parties. Just don't ask him to tenderize your food. He might get the wrong idea and go all Cronenberg on your plate.
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One Comment

  1. I thought that the gates of hell was wtteirn and directed as well as the acting was superb I enjoyed the movie it wasnt boring or anything it was made very well. thanks for making an awsome scary movie. 😀

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