#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 18

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And so, we come to the third and final film in the Gates of Hell Trilogy, and as is becoming a trend with the films I review, I fucking hate the small child in this film! I can’t decide if I hate his face, his horribly dubbed voice, or his horrible portrayal/dialogue the most. Don’t get me wrong…I normally like kids. But stupid children in Horror films just really seem to piss me off lately. Every time this little shit said or did anything, I found myself yelling at the screen. “Shut the fuck up Bob! With your stupid little haircut and your dumb face!” , or “Fuck you Bob! Making those stupid truck driving noises with your mouth! You’re not cool, you little asshole!” Seriously. Fuck that little blonde haired git.

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Now then, I suppose I should talk about the film a little bit, huh? Lucio Fulci is in fine form once again, crafting a film that is more accessible than The Beyond, but still rife with chilling atmosphere. And of course, the gore we’ve come to expect is still there as well, however this outing felt a bit more restrained and effectively used…Except for the bat-killing thing. That took way too long and used so damn much blood that it became hilarious.

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The plot concerns the Boyle family, Paul and Lucy with young son Bob (FUCK YOU BOB!!!!!!), who move to Massachusetts so Paul can complete the work of a deceased professor who met a somewhat shady end. The move into Oak Mansion, the last home of the late professor, though the locals know it as “the Freudstein place”. Strange occurrences and ominous presences about as it becomes more clear that something sinister took place within these walls…and may still lurk within. That’s it! No spoilers! This is another must-see film directed by a Master of Horror!

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As with the two previous films in the trilogy, the atmosphere is creepy as hell and has a surreal, dreamlike quality. There are a few plot-holes, but nothing so large as to derail the film. One of the best scenes of the film should reinforce a fear of basements for any child who dares to watch the film…but it also depicts Bob in mortal danger and scared out of his mind. Naturally, its my favorite part. No Halloween Horror marathon should do without the Gates Of Hell Trilogy!

#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 17

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After the last film, I felt completing the Gates Of Hell trilogy would be just the thing to get me back on track. I’ve already reviewed the film in my Let’s Get NASTY series ( http://wp.me/p3tjV6-mt ), so I won’t go back over old territory. I will however reiterate that this film still fills me with dread. There is something unearthly about the atmosphere and tone, something almost dream-like.

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And of course, being a film by Lucio Fulci, it is dripping with Gore. Originally Fulci intended to make a non-linear haunted house story with the only solid plot element being that of a woman moving into a hotel that was built atop one of the Seven Gates Of Hell. This story focused on the dead leaving Hell and entering the Hotel, with little outside of the ensuing carnage to link the scenes together. Zombies were still popular in Europe and interest in Haunted House films was non existent, so Producers and Distributors persuaded Fulci to give them something more like his other Zombie films. Revisions were made to the final product such as adding Zombies, and completely changing the final act to include the Hospital shoot-out. What we’re left with is a fantastic film that I consider one of Fulci’s best. Full of dread, gore, shocks, and a rare dream-like incoherence.

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#31DaysOfHorror: Oct 8

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So when George Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead was released internationally, the Italians kinda lost their fucking minds. Horror Icon Dario Argento was one of the producers, and was responsible for the release of the trimmed down version known as Zombi in Italy. In the wake of Dawn, it seems like almost every Italian filmmaker dropped what they were doing and said “Fuck it, we’re doing Zombies now!”. As fate would have it, Lucio Fulci would be first out of the gate.

Fulci’s iconic film originally titled Zombie Flesh Eaters was already in post production by the time the Argento re-cut version of Dawn Of The Dead, now know as Zombi was released. In an effort to jump aboard the gravy train, Zombie Flesh Eaters was re-titled Zombi 2, and passed off as a sequel to Dawn Of The Dead. This was just the start of the bizarre Zombie film family tree, but I’ll be saving further details for another post. Fulci followed up Zombie Flesh Eaters with his Gates of Hell Trilogy.

City of the Living Dead is the first film in the Trilogy, and the only film of the three to escape the Video Nasty list (I may have talked about those films before). Followed by The Beyond ( https://doctorhavok.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/lets-get-nasty-the-beyond-and-a-bay-of-blood/) , and concluded by House by the Cemetery, City Of The Living Dead is a glimpse into a hellish nightmare.

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The film centers on Mary Woodhouse who, during a seance receives a vision of a priest(Father Thomas), hanging himself which causes the Gates of Hell to open. The final resting place of Father Thomas, the moody town of Dunwich, doubles as a passageway to the Underworld. This passage must be closed before All Saints Day lest the dead rise and claim dominion over the Earth! As creepy as this story is, its the score, cinematography, set decorating…The whole experience the lends a truly nightmarish edge to the film. The specter of HP Lovecraft hovers over the film like a thin layer of fog. Astute readers will remember it was Lovecraft who inaugurated the fictional village into pop culture lore with his 1929 tale, The Dunwich Horror. City adds to the legend, claiming it was built atop the ashes of the original Salem allowing the Nightmare Illogic to amp up the atmosphere and eerie edge of the film to a level of profound unease.

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The undead in this film are super strong, can levitate, and even teleport. These are far more than your average shambling Corpse munchers, these are the denizens of Hell itself! Rather than simply devour you, these undead prefer to simply squeeze their victims cranial cavities until the brains ooze out. The gore quotient doesn’t stop there though, as one particularly disgusting scene involved Daniela Doria’s character vomiting up her own intestinal tract!

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According the Fulci, the effect was achieved by forcing the actress to swallow the entrails of a freshly killed sheep so she could vomit it up again. Fucking sick! Admittedly, a fake head is clearly employed to finish off the gag, but that is the kind of dedication/insanity that one rarely sees in Horror filmmaking anymore. I still feel the real star of the film is composer Fabio Frizzi’s incredible score. I’ll post a link below so you can appreciate it for yourself as it accentuates the surreal dreamlike horror depicted on screen. Now, I must admit the ending is a bit wonky, and I still don’t fully get it, but I’m willing to look past that and appreciate this film for its many other strengths. I remember being entranced by the VHS cover art as a young child, and being utterly spellbound after finally viewing the film. Thankfully it still holds up to this day and the Gates of Hell remain open.

Pavor na Cidade dos Zumbis (City of the Living De…: http://youtu.be/mzD-Kd9rJgc

Terror Trailers of the 80s vol. 1: 1980

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