This was my introduction to Italian horror films which spiraled out of control into an obsessed frenzy after one watch. I remember renting this (as Gates of Hell) when I was still a teenager. I watched the tape, stopped it after the credits, picked up my jaw, rewound the tape and watched it again. I then walked a couple blocks to my friends house, invited her to my house where we could watch it together. In a single rental day span, I watched this movie three times.
While the notorious regurgitation scene (complete with an appearance by horror director Michele Soavi) in the cemetery BLEW MY MIND, I was hooked at the very beginning. Seeing a priest commit suicide while the haunting score by Fabio Frizzi played in the background, I was instantly in love, this was for me. Maybe I felt another connection to the priest's name (who opened the gateway to hell) because he was "Father Thomas" and my maiden name is Thomas and I have daddy issues. That is me half-joking and half-reading too much into something.
After watching City of the Living Dead I was on a mission to find every film I could directed by this guy, "Lucio Fulci." I was frantically looking at the backs of VHS at Media Play, hoping to strike gold. This eventually lead to one of my favorite films of all time, The Beyond.
There are many issues with City of the Living Dead, at the real basic level some people have issues with the dubbing of the actors, this just adds a level of Italian charm. Another glaring issue is the confusing ending, I am not going to try and tell you what it means because I have no fucking idea. All I know is that the boy runs to Catriona MacColl, everyone is smiles and then it's cut to MacColl expressing a look of terror, back to Emily's little brother, a close up and then special technical effects breaking up the screen to look like shattered glass. Your guess is as good as mine. I just don't let these things bother me, I am not sure if it is a bias or if the love I have for everything else just completely trumps those two things, either way this is just one of those horror films I hold to high esteem. Fabio Frizzi's score aside, the gore in COTLD is over-the-top and, in a way, beautiful. The scene where Bob (GLR) gets a drill to the head is just as memorable as the expelling of an entire digestive tract. There is also the use of worms and maggots which adds another level of disgusting, when the windows fly open and the actors are sprayed with millions of live maggots, all I can say is there is no amount of money that could put me in their shoes.
City of the Living Dead is one of three Fulci films which deal with a gateway/portal to hell. While I love all three, I would rank them best to least favorite The Beyond, City of the Living Dead and House by the Cemetery. Even though I have that ranking, no film, not even my favorites, can hold a candle to the nostalgia and love I have for COTLD. Everyone says you always remember your first and nothing can compare to how you felt, the same can be said for Italian horror films.