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April 25, 2011

Movie Review: City of the Living Dead (1980, Blu-ray)

Blue Underground could make the dead rise with this stunning HD release. FULCI LIVES!

Buy City of the Living Dead on Blu-ray or DVD

Film: 4/5

Hell beings to pour into the small town of Dunwich when Father Thomas hangs himself in the cemetery. Mary (Catriona MacColl), a psychic in New York, seemingly dies from fright because of the incident. Peter (Christopher George), a reporter, beings to investigate her death. Peter goes to the cemetery where Mary is about to be buried when she awakes inside her coffin. Hearing her frantic screams, Peter digs Mary and discovers she has a supernatural tie to the priest's death. Together they must stop the dead before All Saint's Day or Hell will rip open and overrun the Earth.

The Italian maestro knows how to shock, gross-out and mesmerize the audience. City of the Living Dead is a prime example of that. Fulci and SFX artist Gino De Rossi create some down right nasty and jaw dropping gore sequences. The infamous and fan favorite death scene involves local Dunwich idiot Bob (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) getting a workshop drill inserted in, through and out his head. Another memorable kill shows lovers Rosie (Daniela Doria) and Tommy (Italian director Michele Soavi) tormented by a now dead Father Thomas. Rose is locked in a trance with the priest causing her eyes begin to bleed. She then starts to vomit out her internal organs (Doria actually put sheep's intestines in her mouth for the scene!) until she dies. A terrified Tommy then has the back of his head torn out. Gruesome gory goodness. Fabio Frizzi provides a score that is entrancing and one of my all time favorites. Synth sound adds to the creepy vibe already present.

City of the Living Dead still stands as my favorite Fulci film. It's a great example of Italian horror and a crowning achievement for the Godfather of Gore.

Blu-ray: 4.5/5
  • Widescreen 1.85:1 Uncut HD Transfer
If Blue Underground had lips, I'd kiss em. Every Blu-ray they release is more lavish than the last. Presented in 1.85:1 and transferred from the original uncensored negative, this is without a doubt the best City of the Living Dead has ever looked. Colors shine off the screen. Film grain is present in all of it's glory. I own the Arrow edition as well and I have to save Blue Underground's looks a tad better in motion. A fantastic transfer and a must own for any videophile and horror hound.
  •  7.1 DTS-HD - 5.1 Dolby Digital Surrond - 2.0 Mono
7.1 DTS-HD along with a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround and the Original Mono track accompany this disc. 5.1 mix sounds damn good, Frizzi's score has never sounded better. Another fine track from BU.

Bonus Features: 4.5/5
  •  Making of City of the Living Dead
Interviews with the stars and production crew about their experience working on the film. It's really great to know what went on behind the camera and such.
  • Acting Among the Living Dead
Interview with Catriona MacColl
  • Entering the Gates of Hell
Interview with Giovanni Lombardo Radice. This is hands down hilarious. Giovanni reminisces about Fulci, getting his head drilled etc. Radice seems like a super nice laid back guy, excellent interview.
  • Memories of the Maestro
Interviews with cast and crew. Everyone tells an anecdote about Fulci and filming. Lucio's hot tempered attitude is mentioned several times, but they all really liked and respected him despite it. Many great stories are told, especially from the crew side.
  • Marketing of the Living Dead
Poster/Still Gallery. Shows all the advertisements and video releases. At one point the film was titled Twilight of the Dead!
  • Trailers & Radio Spots 

I would still recommended picking up the Arrow Blu as well for the additional extras. Both have unique extras and are more than worth owning.

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