JUNE 17, 1927 – MARCH 13, 1996
The late, great Italian horror maestro was born on this day in 1927 and left a legacy of classic Italian horror/ gore films to remember him by. Check out my favorites right here…
George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was called Zombi in Italy and was a hit, so when Italian Horror master Lucio Fulci created his own zombie gore classic, it was released in Italian theaters as Zombi 2 to cash in on Dawn’s popularity, but Zombie, as it’s known in the USA, is it’s own movie. The action and eating take place, after a bloody opening sequence of a zombie occupied boat entering a New York City harbor, on the remote Caribbean island of Matool and is the product of voodoo being used to raise the flesh eating dead from their graves. The boat entering NYC waters belonged to a doctor, and the story centers on a reporter (Ian McCulloch) and the missing doctor’s daughter (Tisa Farrow), traveling to the fictional island to find the doctor’s whereabouts. Once there, they and a couple whose boat they rented, soon discover a living nightmare and that a horrible fate may be in store for all of them.
The gore is shocking and the zombies are far grosser looking than even Romero’s and while it is smaller in scope, it is very creepy and atmospheric when not splattering blood and guts all over the screen. Much like all of Fulci’s horror films, Zombie has a surreal nightmarish quality to it to go along with all the gore. The film’s nightmarish visuals are courtesy of cinematographer Sergio Salvati and has a haunting score by frequent Fulci collaborator Fabio Frizzi. The film has many shocking moments, but is most famous for the ‘eyeball’ scene and the underwater shark v.s. zombie scene witnessed by a shapely topless diver (Auretta Gay). I personally prefer the work of Fulci over the more popular, but in my opinion overrated, Dario Argento. One of my all time favorite horrors. Recently remastered on a beautiful blu-ray from Blue Underground!
4 Fulci zombies!
WARNING: TRAILER IS VERY GRAPHIC!
CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (also known as THE GATES OF HELL) (1980)
A priest hangs himself, a seance goes tragically wrong and the dead rise…all in the first 5 minutes of another gory and disturbing horror from Italian maestro of terror, Luci Fulci. Fulci’s trademark spooky visuals, as photographed by frequent cinematographer Sergio Salvati, and trademark gore fills this story of a small town priest’s suicide that opens the gates of Hell. Now a reporter (Christopher George) and a psychic (Catriona MacColl) must travel to a remote New England town to close Hell’s gates before the evil ripping the town apart spreads to the rest of the world.
As usual this Fulci flick is loaded with atmosphere, gruesome gore, (such as a drill through the head and a woman vomiting up her own entrails) and zombies. Fabio Frizzi once again provides the haunting score. Not quite up to the standards of his Zombie or his next film, The Beyond, but a gory, creepy Italian horror none the less! Also, the only film I know of that contains a blizzard of maggots! Originally released in the US as The Gates Of Hell.
3 and 1/2 Fulci zombies
WARNING: TRAILER IS VERY GRAPHIC!
THE BEYOND (1981)
A young woman (Catriona MacColl) inherits an old Louisiana hotel not knowing that 54 years earlier, a group of frightened townspeople tortured and murdered a man staying in room 36, who was suspected of being a warlock. Before his death, the warlock warned that the hotel sat on one of the 7 gates of Hell and he had found the key. Needless to say, efforts to reopen the hotel meet with tragic and gruesome results and there is definitely something unnatural going on in room 36.
Italian horror master Lucio Fulci creates one his most nightmarish and surreal films in this story of a house haunted by a very powerful and ancient evil. As the young woman and a doctor friend (David Warbeck) try to unravel the mystery of the hotel’s sinister past, the evil force continues to provide gruesome fates to those that come into contact with it, or try to warn our heroine. Fulci’s film is a disturbing supernatural tale with some very atmospheric and spooky visuals combined with some very shocking and inventive gore. Once more the cinematography is by Sergio Salvati and music by Fabio Frizzi. From carnivorous swarms of spiders, to acid in faces, to reanimated corpses, this film is a chilling and very unsettling horror from the first frames till the nightmarish last. Surreal at times, but always haunting. A first rate Italian horror from one of it’s masters and one of Fulci’s best. The spider scene still freaks me out!
4 Fulci zombies