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Sunday, October 10, 2010

31 films for Halloween #3

Paura nella città dei morti viventi (1980)

aka. The Gates of Hell, aka The City of the Living Dead
Dir: Lucio Fulci
*1/2

Sub-genre: Gore, apocalyptic horror, zombie film (barely)
Scare level: 3/10
Scare Type: disgust

Fulci is one of the more frustrating horror directors (I would be hesitant to call him an auteur because even though he's one of the big names, his style is indebted to Argento but also to the more exploitative types like D'Amato) in his ability to make a great film and a lackluster film nearly simultaneously. This film falls into the later category. A thread bare and rather ridiculous (even for an Italian horror film) storyline is essentially just an excuse for some gory set pieces. The film has some nice atmosphere in the Dunwich scenes, but it's slow, and there isn't a sense of any real dread or danger. The only real plus here is the soundtrack, not the wanna-be Goblin score, but the disembodied screaming and other effects which attempt to create a soundscape. However, the New York scenes break this up with traditional exploitation type melodramatic strings. The next year, 1981, Fulci would make what is his best full out horror film, and a much better film about a gate to hell, The Beyond (aka The Seven Doors of Death). That film has all of the apocalyptic atmosphere and dread that this film lacks, as well as much more organically composed scenes of violence (Fulci reveals real artistry in that film's opening as well as in it's final reveal which is really one of the best in horror cinema). This isn't the most inept or terrible film, but there are few things as unfulfilling as a tedious, slow horror film. Argento made some awful film messes but they typically have enough imagination or interesting ideas to make them much more watchable.

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