Fulci’s follow up to City of the Living Dead, not a sequel, but following in the same footsteps. Witchcraft causes local residents to murder a bloke with a chain, a brutal death by anyone’s standards. His body, locked in a basement for 50 years until Joe the plumber finds the corpse, and unleashes the horrors from one of the ‘7 Gates of Hell’. Unsuspecting Liza, (Catriona MacColl) has recently acquired the hotel and is now more than a little perplexed to find the plumber dead and strangeness occurring all around. Stumbling upon a strange blind woman and her dog out on one of the Louisiana Wetland roads, the back story is explained and soon the dark powers are taking over the whole town. With the aid of Dr John MaCabe (played by the outstanding David Warbeck), the two pair up to solve the puzzle which inevitably leads to an ever increasing number of shuffling undead and an inspiring climax.
This film follows a more approachable viewing experience for the novice Fulci explorer. It’s a bit more coherent than City, but still carrying all the beauty and charm of its predecessor. The plot makes a little more sense although, that said, there are still huge questions to be asked as to why, where and what is actually supposed to be going on here. Put those questions to the back of your mind and enjoy the images which are fine pieces are artistic talent, care of Sergio Savati once again. Tomassi editing, Frizzi soundtrack, De Rossi on gore duty. This equates to the essential Fulci experience.
What’s astounding here, as we take for granted the great look of the film and a quality soundtrack, is the sheer amount or gore squeezed into 90 minutes. It’s outrageous really and credit to Fulci and De Rossi for envisioning the most outrageous collection of gore moments in a single movie. Where else can you see a man eaten alive by tarantulas, a blind woman ripped apart by her Alsatian dog, a young girl get her face and head blown clean off, a bloke nailed to a wall and whipped to death with chains, two scenes with eye balls ripped out and a woman’s face melted with acid! This is all before we mention the hordes of zombies causing all sorts of despair and violence. These are all huge scenes too; we’re not just talking quick editing and snapshots of bloody carnage. Here we have close up lingering camera shots, dripping blood and gore. I must say, the Alsatian scene is a thing of beauty. The dripping blood off the jaw of Cinzia Monreale’s (Emily the blind woman) beautiful face, framed brilliantly by Savati is truly a highlight. A moment of real artistic pleasure.
Let me mention Fulci’s stance on zombies. Unlike many of the other reasoning’s for zombies in movies, Fulci has a strong connected reasoning for the dead to walk the earth. Witchcraft and demonology. This is a force of evil, unleashed by dabbling humans causing the gates of hell to open with a wrath of strange monstrous effects on their surroundings and so, the dead will walk the earth. Unlike Romero’s which have an unknown reasoning for the walking dead apart from the vague wives tale of ‘when there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.’ Other films have used chemical misuse and virus epidemics, which all have their time and place, Fulci has a solid grounding for his walking dead: Evil doings of men and the curse of the devil itself.
‘And you will face the sea of Darkness, and all therein that may be explored.’