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(aka "Paura nella città dei morti viventi" or "Gates of Hell" or "Fear in the City of the Living Dead" or "Twilight of the Dead" )

 

directed by Lucio Fulci
Italy 1980

 

When Father Thomas (Fabrizio Javone) hangs himself, the sacrilegious act causes the Gates of Hell to open beneath the Dunwich cemetery. Mary (Catriona MacColl), a medium, witnesses this event during a séance in New York and apparently dies of shock but wakes up to find herself entombed in a buried coffin. Fortunately, meddling reporter Peter Bell (Christopher George) comes to her rescue (although he nearly kills her in the process) and together they hit the road in search of Dunwhich to shut the Gates of Hell before All Saints' Day when the dead will walk the earth but strange (read: gory) things are already beginning to happen in the town since Father Thomas killed himself. Two necking teenagers (future Italian horror director Michele Soavi and Fulci's favorite victim Daniela Doria) have disappeared (well, we know they didn't really disappear since we're shown their fates in graphic detail) and slow-witted Bob (Giovanni Lombardo Radice, a respected stage actor destined to splattered with fake blood, real animal guts, and latex throughout his exploitation career) is the likely suspect since psychiatrist Gerry's (Carlo De Mejo, son of Alida Valli) girlfriend Emily (Antonella Interleghi, NEW YORK RIPPER) has also turned up dead from shock after visiting Bob. Emily's little brother John-John (Luca Venantini, son of actor Venantino Venantini who also has a role here as one of the bigoted townsfolk) is seeing ghoulish, brain-squishing apparitions and painter Sandra (Swedish model Janet Agren) is being terrorized by the corpse of an elderly woman that keeps popping up in odd places in her house. Peter and Mary hook up with Gerry and Sandra and compare notes (under a shower of maggots) and finally determine that the dead seem to have risen a little early but the best option still seems to be checking out the cemetery as the likely location for the Gates of Hell.

Upon its release, Lucio Fulci follow-up to his hugely successful unofficial sequel to DAWN OF THE DEAD titled ZOMBI 2 (or ZOMBIE to American viewers and ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS to the Brits), CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD was not as successful. Produced on a lower budget, largely on location in Savannah, Georgia (with visits to the Roman sound stages for the gory set-pieces and some Gothic interiors), CITY lacked the picturesque locations and scope compositions of ZOMBI 2 and the gothic gore works following CITY (DP Sergio Salvati shot this one on 16mm for blow-up and both his zooms and crane shots look clunkier despite some beautiful saturated blue lighting) but it did feature some show-stopping gore (including a woman mesmerized into vomiting up her intestines and a power drill through the head seen spinning on both sides) and a gritty hybrid score of orchestral strings, percussion, and Mellotron tape-looped choral voices that may - along with the partial mausoleum setting and spectral Father Thomas - have been influenced by the look and feel of Don Coscarelli's PHANTASM. Although slumming in one of a handful of American and European horror films before his early death, Christopher George is most engaging here and seems the least hindered by the banally-scripted and post-dubbed dialogue while MacColl (in the first of three collaborations with Fulci) gets put through her paces in true scream-queen fashion. Secondary protagonists De Mejo and Agren are not as well developed but they are given center stage in a couple suspenseful set-pieces before meeting up with the other two. Gore effects are accomplished but the zombies are not as effectively realized as their ZOMBI 2 or THE BEYOND counterparts but still have an unsettling quality even if they do look like they were splattered in oil paint and the sometimes dead-eyed, sometimes staring and smiling, always lit from below visage of Father Thomas is as creepy as the appearance of The Tall Man in the aforementioned PHANTASM. Viewers who picked this one up for the gore may want to give it another look and absorb the technical and artistic craftsmanship that went into creating the film's irrational nightmare world.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: May 1983 (USA)

Reviews        More Reviews       DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region 0 - PAL vs. Anchor Bay Entertainment (Lucio Fulci Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for all the DVD Screen Caps and Michael Den Boer for all the Blue-Underground Blu-ray captures!

1) Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region 0 - PAL - LEFT

2) Anchor Bay Entertainment (Lucio Fulci Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Arrow Video

Region 0 - PAL

Anchor Bay Entertainment
Region 1 - NTSC

Arrow Video

Region FREE - Blu-ray

Blue Underground

Region FREE - Blu-ray

Runtime 1:28:51 (4% PAL speedup) 1:32:36 1:32:43.891 1:32:46.727
Video

1.84:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.8 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.83:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.68 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 45,871,842,872 bytes

Feature Size: 25,882,146,816 bytes

Average Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC 1080P

Disc Size: 42,106,759,661 bytes

Feature Size: 29,487,200,256 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC 1080P

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition)

 

Bitrate:

 

Anchor Bay Entertainment (Lucio Fulci Collection)

 

Bitrate:

 

Arrow Blu-ray

 

Audio English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo

English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2267 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 2267 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1943 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1943 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
DTS-HD Master Audio English 4530 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 4530 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital EX Audio English 448 kbps 5.1-EX / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Subtitles none none none English, French, Spanish, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.84:1

Edition Details:
• DISC ONE:
• Introduction by actor Carlo de Mejo (16:9; 0:36)
• Audio Commentary by actor Giovanni Lombardo Radice
• Audio Commentary by actress Catriona MacColl moderated by Jay Slater
• International Trailer (16:9; 2:55; in English or Italian)
• DISC TWO:
• FULCI IN THE HOUSE documentary (16:9; 17:50)
• CARLO OF THE LIVING DEAD - interview with actor Carlo de Mejo (16:9; 17:28)
• DAME OF THE DEAD - interview with actress Catriona MacColl (16:9; 24:51)
• FULCI'S DAUGHTER - interview with Antonella Fulci (16:9; 27:34)
• PENNING SOME PAURA - interview with screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti (16:9; 18:12)
• PROFONDO LUIGI - interview with Luigi Cozzi (16:9; 16:59)
• LIVE FROM THE GLASGOW THEATRE (16:9; 24:47)
• THE MANY LIVES (AND DEATHS) OF GIOVANNI LOMBARDO RADICE (16:9; 50:26)
• GALLERY OF THE LIVING DEAD (16:9; 3:35)

DVD Release Date: 24 May 2010
Amaray

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.83:1

Edition Details:
• International Trailer (16:9; 3:03)
• Radio Spots (1:17)
• Lucio Fulci Filmography

DVD Release Date: May 23, 2000
Amaray

Chapters 26

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Video

 

Disc Size: 45,871,842,872 bytes

Feature Size: 25,882,146,816 bytes

Average Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC 1080P

 

Edition Details:
• Introduction by actor Carlo de Mejo (16:9; 0:36)
• Audio Commentary by actor Giovanni Lombardo Radice
• Audio Commentary by actress Catriona MacColl moderated by Jay Slater
• International Trailer (16:9; 2:55; in English or Italian)
• FULCI IN THE HOUSE documentary (16:9; 17:50)
• CARLO OF THE LIVING DEAD - interview with actor Carlo de Mejo (16:9; 17:28)
• DAME OF THE DEAD - interview with actress Catriona MacColl (16:9; 24:51)
• FULCI'S DAUGHTER - interview with Antonella Fulci (16:9; 27:34)
• PENNING SOME PAURA - interview with screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti (16:9; 18:12)
• PROFONDO LUIGI - interview with Luigi Cozzi (16:9; 16:59)
• LIVE FROM THE GLASGOW THEATRE (16:9; 24:47)
• THE MANY LIVES (AND DEATHS) OF GIOVANNI LOMBARDO RADICE (16:9; 50:26)
• GALLERY OF THE LIVING DEAD (16:9; 3:35)

Blu-ray Release Date: 24 May 2010
Standard UK Blu-ray case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio:
Blue Underground

 

Disc Size: 42,106,759,661 bytes

Feature Size: 29,487,200,256 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC 1080P

 

Edition Details:
• 2 Radio Spots
• English language trailer (16X9; 3:01)
• Italian language trailer with English subtitles (16X9; 3:03)
• Stills Gallery 'Marketing of the Dead'
• Memories of the Maestro (4:3; 21:09)
• Interviews with Catriona MacColl (4:3; 10:39), Giovanni Lombardo Radice (4:3; 9:49)
• The Making of City of the Living Dead (4:3; 32:10)

Blu-ray Release Date: May 25th, 2010
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 12

 

Comments NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION - Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray May 2010 -  This transfer comes from the same Hi Def that was used for the Arrow Video Blu-ray and DVD releases. And yet the two transfers do differ slightly. Colors looking more vibrant, flesh tones looking more lifelike and black levels looking stronger on the Blue underground transfer. It also has a higher video bitrate. One other thing the sets the two transfers apart is that there is that Arrow Video rendering has noticeable issues with compression.

Audio wise the Blue Underground release is on par with the audio mixes present on the Arrow Video release. The remix audio tracks do a reasonably good job spreading out the original mono source. The original mono mix is the most satisfying of the audio mixes included. The score and sound effects benefit most in all of these audio mixes.

While not as stacked extras wise as the Arrow Video release. The Blue Underground
Blu-ray does come with a handful of insightful extras which are exclusive to this release. Extras include radio spots, trailers, a stills gallery (which includes cover art for various home video releases of the film), interviews with Catriona MacColl and Giovanni Lombardo Radice, a segment titled 'Memories of the Maestro' in which several of Lucio Fulci's collaborators reminisce about him and thirty two minute 'making of' documentary which includes comments from Catriona MacColl, Michele Soavi, Sergio Salvati, Massimo Antonello Gelang, Roberto Forges Davenzati, Gino De Rossi and Rosario Prestopino.

  - Michael Den Boer

ADDITION - Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray May 2010 -  I think all of Eric's comments hold true in regards to a comparison with the Anchor Bay DVD but now everything is exemplified by the higher resolution of the dual-layered Blu-ray. Meaning better detail, more support for the heavy grain structure, tighter colors etc.

The Blu-ray does give a couple of lossless DTS-HD Master tracks - a rangy 7.1 at 2267 kbps and an equally robust 5.1 at 1943 kbps. The mix is pretty good considering and effect noises are rife from screams and shrieks to beyond - seemingly coming at all angles of your system. The Blu-ray likewise doesn't offer any subtitles but my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

NOTE: Extras played on my Region 'A' Blu-ray player.

The extensive extras (as covered below) are duplicated and Fulci fans will rejoice at this wonderful 1080P release running in theatrical time (No PAL speedup).

 - Gary Tooze  

***

ON THE DVDs: Mastered from high definition (a joint venture between Blue Underground and Arrow Video and forthcoming on Blu-ray and DVD from both companies with exclusive extras), Arrow Video's anamorphic transfer of CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD is without question superior to previous editions. Unlike Fulci's other early eighties gorefests which were photographed in Techniscope, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD was shot in 16mm and will always look grainy but the new master is the best the film has looked (my previous scope of reference for this film being two faded, scratchy domestic tape releases, Anchor Bay's earlier DVD release, and Vipco's non-anamorphic DVD). The new transfer reveals slivers of additional picture information not present on the Anchor Bay disc, the colors are bolder, and the grain finer. Anchor Bay's 2000 disc is also an anamorphic transfer but darker with less visible detail although sometimes the skin tones are warmer (the living Father Thomas has a slightly ruddier pallor in the AB image than he does on the Arrow). Grain looks larger on the lower resolution image. The 5.1 and 2.0 remixes are similar to the ones on the current Arrow disc (except the 2.0 track on the AB is surround-flagged) but the volume is lower. Only in the second set of comparison caps does the Anchor Bay disc look better.

The single-layer encoding is a bit disappointing (not technically but in presentational terms) but while Blue Underground's own SD downconversion will likely be a dual-layer disc, the array of half-bitrate DTS-ES, Dolby 5.1 EX, 2.0 surround, and original mono audio mixes will likely mean that the video stream will also be single-layer sized. Arrow's Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 stereo remixes both sound clean and feature subtle brain-crunching, drill-spinning, and gut-vomiting effects (not as artificial-sounding as the 5.1 remix performed for Fulci's THE BEYOND) with a little bit of hiss. The film is accompanied by two audio commentaries; the first newly-recorded with actor Giovanni Lombardo Radice and the other with actress Catriona MacColl ported over from the out of print 2003 Vipco DVD. The actors shared no scenes together so their recollections differ but both express their views on censorship in reaction to their respective moderators' mention of the film's status as a "Video Nasty." The film's international trailer (in English or Italian) rounds out the first disc.

The second dual-layer disc is packed with supplements. Each of the interview segments is preceded by lengthy and amusing introductions featuring animated adaptations of sequences from the film. The documentary "Fulci in the House" seems like it was intended for Arrow's release of Fulci's HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY. After discussing ZOMBI 2 (the unofficial sequel to George Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD which was titled ZOMBI in Italy), the documentary glosses over CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (and THE BEYOND) to discuss HOUSE for the remaining 2/3 of the running time (the documentary also features clips only from ZOMBI 2 and HOUSE). Carlo De Mejo and Catriona MacColl relate their memories of the production. De Mejo has anecdotes about some key sequences (he is just as uncertain about the ending as other commentators), points out the CITY hommage in Tarentino's KILL BILL VOLUME 2, and also mentions his subsequent Fulci film appearances briefly. There is some overlap between MacColl's interview and the 7 year old audio commentary especially since she is asked some similar questions. The interview with Fulci's daughter Antonella is interesting because she talks about the film's story seriously rather than focusing on the set-pieces. She draws parallels between the outcast scapegoat characters in DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING and CITY and mentions being on set for Florinda Balkan's death scene in the former film (and being fascinated with the effects work). Luigi Cozzi mentions how he nearly got to work with Fulci twice (first when a producer expressed interest in Fulci directing his script "Out of the Depths" not knowing that the title had been changed to THE BLACK CAT and that it had already been directed by Cozzi and then the Dario Argento-produced WAX MASK but Fulci died before production) and also mentions how his directorial career took off with CONTAMINATION as a result of Fulci's success with ZOMBI 2 and the new-found box-office draw of extreme gore. The "Live at the Glasgow Theatre" Q&A session features both MacColl and Radice and Arrow has helpfully subtitled the offscreen audience's questions. The longest featurette is the 50 minute "The Lives (and Deaths) of Giovanni Lombardo Radice" and features his amusing recollections of his memorable Italian genre appearances. The extras are rounded out with a stills gallery.

Not included with my check discs are 4 sleeve artwork options, a double-sided poster, and a liner notes booklet featuring additional text interviews.

The out of print Italian NoShame and current Scandanavian Another World Entertainment DVDs were also mastered from a high definition source but reviews suggest that heavy noise reduction was applied and the image did not fare well in motion. Blue Underground's 2007 edition of the film was a direct port of the Anchor Bay disc but they will also be releasing a new 2 disc version along with their competing
Blu-ray but specs suggest that the some extras will be exclusive to the Blu-ray and not carried over to the SD version.

 - Eric Cotenas

 



DVD Menus
(
Arrow Video DVD and Blu-ray (30th Anniversary Edition) - LEFT vs. Anchor Bay Entertainment (Lucio Fulci Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT
)
 

 

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Anchor Bay Entertainment (Lucio Fulci Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Anchor Bay Entertainment (Lucio Fulci Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Anchor Bay Entertainment (Lucio Fulci Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Anchor Bay Entertainment (Lucio Fulci Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Anchor Bay Entertainment (Lucio Fulci Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Anchor Bay Entertainment (Lucio Fulci Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Anchor Bay Entertainment (Lucio Fulci Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) Arrow Video (30th Anniversary Edition) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

More Arrow Blu-ray Captures

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blue Underground Blu-ray

Sound:

 Blu-rays

Extras: Arrow DVD + Arrow Blu-ray

 
DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Arrow Video

Region 0 - PAL

Anchor Bay Entertainment
Region 1 - NTSC

Arrow Video

Region FREE - Blu-ray

Blue Underground

Region FREE - Blu-ray

 




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