Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lucio Fulci Triple Feature!

One of the best Italian horror directors (and to a small extent one of the worst) was Lucio Fulci.  Among the many., many movies he directed, three stand out as absolute classics.  Zombie, Gates of Hell (City of the Living Dead) and The Beyond.

We start off with Zombie, billed in Italy as Zombi 2 in order to make it look like a sequel to Dawn of the Dead (called Zombi in Italy). Ian McCulloch plays Peter, a reporter who tries to help a woman played by Tisa Farrow find her father, a scientist played by Richard Johnson.  Johnson has set himself up on a small island in the Caribbean and for some reason, the dead are beginning to rise.

The setup is simplicity itself with Al Cliver and Auretta Gay as an American couple that helps our heroes.  Fulci creates a wonderful sense of dread mixed with some spectacularly gory set pieces.  T%he two scenes that really stand out are a scene where a zombie slowly pulls a screaming woman into a broken piece of wood eye first, and the infamous zombie vs. shark scene.

The film is a wonderfully silly, gory romp.  Plus, get a load of that tagline!

The second of Fulci's zombie epics takes on more of a serious, apocalyptic tone as the suicide of a priest somehow opens up one of the gates oh hell.  Christopher George and Katherine MacColl are among those trapped in the little New England village of Dunwich, as is Italian b-movie mainstay John Morghen.  Morghen generally plays rather disagreeable characters and while that is a rather mundane commonality to have on one's resume, the rather spectacular demises he tends to meet are something else.  Here, he plays the village sleaze who ends up having his head drilled through.

Of the three, it's probably my third favorite as the pace is a little too lax for its own good.  In spite of this, there are some impressive barf bag moments as brains are pulled out (these zombies love to do that), guts are barfed up and there's a nice fiery climax that ends things least until a rather confusing freeze frame that takes us to the credits.  Happily, Fulci will hit the jackpot next.

The above cover is the cut version of The Beyond.  Fulci's best film, it is a wild vision of apocalyptic horror as only the Italians can do.  The gates of hell are opened once more (these things are way too easy to open, I tell you!), this time it all revolves around the rather gruesome demise of a painter in the early 20's.

Katherine MacColl is back, this time as the new owner of the New Orleans hotel said painter was killed in and gradually, she and a doctor played by David Warbeck are drawn into an increasingly hallucinatory nightmare.  It's a wild, wild ride that's actually rather hard to describe.  It's liker watching a living nightmare unfold.  We get creepy (yet fake) spiders, multiple eye gougings, heads being blasted open, zombies, it's great if you're willing to sacrifice coherency.

Fulci never made anything as good as these three films.  His career before and after these three was hit and miss with more misses than hits.  Still, these three are seminal works in the genre.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.