You know, in retrospect, I don’t think my initial review adequately conveys the oppressively bleak atmosphere that pervades City of the Living Dead. Now that I’ve had time to properly digest the movie’s subtleties (or lack thereof) and it isn’t three o’clock in the morning, I’d like to take another crack at it.
Lucio Fulci intentionally eschews traditional plot structure, instead presenting a series of loosely connected vignettes that depict Dunwich’s gradual downfall (an approach that owes much to Stephen King—the narrative explores both supernatural and mundane horrors). And because he’s an Italian filmmaker, he isn’t afraid to linger on every gruesome, gory detail of said downfall. The zombies’ preferred modus operandi, for example, involves grabbing the victim by the hair and slowly peeling back their scalp, uncorking their “skull plug” and causing their brains to spill out (I wish there was a better way to describe the process, but that’s the best I can manage). And those are the lucky ones: there’s a particularly infamous and excruciating scene in which a woman weeps tears of blood and vomits out her internal organs—like, all of them.
And while this quaint and quiet community is quite literally going to Hell, our intrepid protagonists are… struggling to read a roadmap. Hopelessly lost and with the clock ticking inexorably towards armageddon, they decide to… stop at a diner and rethink their plan to save the world after they’ve had a bite to eat.
Let’s face it: with heroes like these, mankind is well and truly fucked.
[Originally written October 19, 2018.]