Comments Off on City of the Living Dead
Tagline: The Dead Shall Rise and Walk the Earth
Year: 1980 Runtime: 93 min
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writer: Lucio Fulci (story & screenplay) Dardano Sacchetti (story & screenplay)
This is one of those movies that makes you scratch your head and grunt, “HUH?!?”
First and foremost, as the name suggests, this is a zombie film. Fulci, like Romero, knows his way around the genre. At least one would think. Both men have done their fair share of films in the genre, not to mention they were friends. Besides, it’s not a very complex style of film.
There are different forms of zombies. Voodoo, nuclear waste, government bacterial/viral research gone awry and sacrilegious to name a few of the most popular.
This film falls into the last category. The zombies are released when a priest hangs himself in a cemetery. What’s more, for some reason, a troop of monkeys is also released. We never learn wither they’re from—the local zoo or hell. Regardless, if you listen you can clearly hear their calls. Oooooooo, spooky. Nothing sets the mood like night, fog and the wild calls of monkeys.
Most zombies have fairly straight forward attributes. They moan, they move slowly (or fast in more resent films), they are decaying, they eat brains, they infect others by biting them and they are killed by destroying their brain/removing their head.
Fulci’s zombies follow the established convention in but one aspect, they move slowly. Otherwise, they sound like Aslan after a swift kick in the love spuds, they can teleport, they look like they’ve got monkey-poo smeared on their face (maybe that’s why the monkeys were cut loose), they only scalp their victims (pulling off the backs of their heads), their bite does not infect others and they can be killed by stabbing them in the stomach with a pointy stick. Alternatively, they can be killed in mass when Suicide Priest is stabbed in the crotch with a wood picket.
How does one becomes a zombie, you ask? Normally, as noted above, by being bitten. Yet Fulci changes the game significantly. There are two ways one can become a zombie.
First, Suicide Priest can cram a handful of wormy monkey feces in your face. Secondly, Suicide Priest can use his “evil eye” on you. This is particularly interesting because it causes one to cry blood and vomit up one’s intestines. And, as a nice final touch, if you happen to be a white women, it also performs a negro-plasty, turning her hands into those of a black man. I can’t help but pick up on a slightly racist undertone here. I mean, black hands do the dirty work? The phrase “cotton-pickin’ hands” comes to mind.
Whereas Fulci took some interesting liberties with the genre, the characters are a mostly boring lot, with the exception of the Rent-a-Center Bob Ross, psychologist. This guy isn’t fazed by anything. I’m sure psychologist face some pretty horrible stuff in their day-to-day affairs, but this guy is cold as ice. Here’s but a few of the things he’s a witness to but just blows off:
- random dead bodies appearing/disappearing
- monkey-poo faced zombies
- walls bleeding
- teleporting Suicide Priest
- Suicide Priest’s hex vision causing bleeding eye syndrome
- millions of meal worms blown into room, particularly into his face, porno money-shot style
The ending is most perplexing. Bob Ross and Mary, the one woman with the hero’s death exemption, make it out of the tomb of Suicide Priest and find little John-John, the child with the hero’s death exemption, waiting with the police. Overjoyed that someone has survived John-John squeals and makes a bee-line for them. His run goes slo-mo and Mary starts screaming blood murder. Yet, there’s no zombies or Suicide Priest lurking about. The only thing I can figure is she’s freaked because she realized she’s John-John’s only living friend and might have to adopt the brat.
Check out the trailer for “City of the Living Dead”