Tuesday, 22 July 2014

21/07/14 City Of The Living Dead (1980)

People who wank on about how great Lucio Fuchi films are should put down their copy of Fangoria and actually watch one.

Too tired to blather on about this, but it was the usual combination of people who couldn't act their way out of bed and gore effects that look like dropped pasta.



Look at that bald, one eyed bumlord. Twat.



  1. I am a massive fan of Lucio's work. But this is an era of his film that divides opinion most. Regarding your Fangoria comment. I have read reviews from people who praise Lucio's work from this period and show little appreciation of his wider work. If you want to see why I consider Lucio to be a great director then start with Zombie Flesh Eaters (79) and work backwards, especially his comedies. The stuff that gets praised and defended by horror fans is not his best. Long before he made a horror film there was a time when Lucio would command enough respect to get to work with some of the biggest names in European genre cinema of the day- the likes of Marisa Mell, Tomas Milian, Edwige Fenech, Franco Nero, Toto, Franco and Ciccio, and so on.

    As to the film you reviewed here, all I can say is that this was an era of his work that was characterised by an heavy reliance of style over narrative (to put it mildly). Indeed I sort of get what he is trying to achieve (with mixed results). It is an unconventional approach that will alienate many, but this will be the same for a lot of directors who step away from the norm. There are plenty who do this and I don't get, but, for some reason, I got lucio the first time I saw the trailer for zombie flesh eaters playing on a portable tv in some backstreet video shop back in the early 80s. He's sort of stuck with me ever since. I possibly watch this one, along with the other titles that make up the informal trilogy.

    Now as a fanboy this may surprise you- but I have far more respect for this review than some of the stuff I have read from horror fans who claim to be fans of Lucio and say things like Fulci films "never make sense". To me it suggests wannabies who are liking Lucio because it is the done thing and trying to gain brownie points from hipster posturing. Not least because half of Lucio's career was given over to conventional and slightly subversive comedies (there is a touch of Marx and Gramsci in his work). Those films make clear enough sense :D.

  2. Feel a bit guilty now.

    I forget that other people might read this, and type some old guff without considering the opinion of others (not that we should ever change opinion to please others, but I could do with exercising some tact a little more often :) )

    For a fellow on the internet who've I've never met, I actually rather value your thoughts on films. Your thoughtfulness and obvious passion always shines through in the blog posts/reviews that you write. I value the observations of an enthusiast without any professional/financial agenda far more than a paid mouthpiece. I find most professional critics to be suffering from something of a syndicated hive-mind, resulting in a rather childish 'If the people like it, I won't' mentality on my part.

    Also, when I was typing it, the last ten or so minutes of the film were playing out, I did find myself thinking "Actually, visually, some of these shots are effectively quite chilling." In the same way that a painting can be slightly offset and disturbing. Perhaps I should absorb such stuff for their aesthetic rather than pick them apart for terrible acting.

    However, with those concessions, I have found every Fulci film from that era to have the style of a cheaply, quickly made home movie. Flip knows, I've made enough of them myself to recognise the sins when present. I seem to recall Zombie Flesh Eaters to be as guilty of this, but I haven't seen it for a long, long time so maybe a another viewing is due.

    The Fangoria comment was kinda from the same place that you speak of with the wannabies scoring brownie points. Horror films have always been my default choice, but so many times I have found the horror 'culture' and self-identified fans to far too collectively forgiving of weak output just 'cos it ticks a few undemanding boxes. And Fangoria is shite, the Smash Hits of horror flicks.

    Anyway, as ever, thank you for the insightful, well written comment. You've managed to achieve the unlikely and made me wan't to check out other Fulci films!

  3. 'Who've I've never met'!?

    Still sleepy, obviously.

  4. I think your comment on the last ten minutes of the film hits the nail on the head- it is definitely all in the visuals. So, I can understand why this is not enough. After all, how often do any of us think that a film looks absolutely great but at the same time fail to be entertained. Here Lucio's films clearly try to shock with aesthetics and a jarring subversion of narrative structure. The latter is especially evident in The Beyond.

    Think of it this way- Lucio is in effect saying that should the gates of hell be opened then things ain't necessarily going to be pretty (or make much sense). In this I think he is trying to creating a feeling of unease in the viewer. If people walk away feeling something then I guess it was job done. Its 100% show and little tell. :D

    However, since his films of this period were relatively successful (I don't think I ever found a video shop in the early 80s that didn't stock zombie flesh eaters) he would become a prisoner of this success- producers would require more of the same from him. So, it feels like he ended up making the same film over and over with diminishing returns, ever reducing budgets and lesser and lesser performers- Demonia , for example, is City of the Living Dead meets The Beyond with ghost nuns and Meg Register out of Boxing Helena.

    I can't promise you will enjoy earlier Fullci films any more than these, but certainly in earlier works there is a certain sense of quality- Massacre Time, for me, is a class spaghetti western for example, La pretora and The Eroticist has far more to say about Italian society than many of the throwaway sex comedies of the mid 70s too.

    Even Stephen Thrower's Beyond Terror, which is supposedly THE book on Fulci, manages to breezily skip over half the directors output (his comedies) while giving over a large chunk of the book to his handful of early 80s horrors. Incidentally I also love the works of Franco and Rollin which, like Fulci, lean heavily on style. These too are directors that polarise.

    But, as I hinted, Lucio's best work was behind him by the late 70s- Perversion Story, a Hitchcock homage, is great for example. Don't Torture a Duckling, excluding its poorly executed conclusion, is a real favourite of mine too. I also love Contraband. A flawed film but as gritty as any of the gritty crime films of the 70s.

    As for the acting- much of that will of course come down to the dubbing style, and it is dubbed by the same crew that dubbed almost all the exported Italian stuff from the era. So, if you watch a lot of it, you will notice certain voices that will become incredibly familiar. Eventually you start recognising Nick Alexander etc. :)