City of the Living Dead

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Not to be confused with City of the Walking Dead.
City of the Living Dead
Ein Zombie hing am Glockenseil Poster.jpg
Italian theatrical poster
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Produced by Lucio Fulci
Giovanni Masini
Robert E. Warner
Written by Lucio Fulci
Dardano Sacchetti
Starring Christopher George
Catriona MacColl (as Katriona MacColl)
Antonella Interlenghi
Giovanni Lombardo Radice
Music by Fabio Frizzi
Cinematography Sergio Salvati
Edited by Vincenzo Tomassi
Dania Film
Medusa Distribuzione
National Cinematografica
Release dates 11 August 1980
Running time 93 min.
Country Italy
Language English

City of the Living Dead (Italian: Paura nella città dei morti viventi [English translation: Fear in the City of the Living Dead], also known as The Gates of Hell) is a 1980 Italian horror film directed by Lucio Fulci. It is the first installment of the unofficial Gates of Hell trilogy which also includes The Beyond and The House by the Cemetery. Fulci makes an uncredited cameo appearance as Dr. Joe Thompson in the film.


After Father William Thomas (Fabrizio Jovine) hangs himself in a cemetery, the gates of Hell are opened. Zombies with the abilities of super strength, teleportation and levitation appear and start killing off people in a remote town. Psychic Mary Woodhouse (Catriona MacColl) appears to die of fright during a seance, and is buried – only to revive, buried alive, in her own coffin. Investigating reporter Peter Bell (Christopher George), who is intrigued by the case, is present at the grave-site and rescues her – only to learn it is all fated as part of a prophecy in the Book of Enoch. The death of the priest is only the beginning, and they both must travel to the rural town of Dunwich, New England and close the portal to Hell before All Saints Day, or the spirits of the dead will overtake the Earth.


(partial uncredited cast)

  • Lucio Fulci as Dr. Joe Thompson
  • Michael Gaunt as the Gravedigger #1
  • Perry Pirkanen as the Blonde Gravedigger
  • James Sampson as James McLuhan; Séance Member
  • Martin Sorrentino as Sgt. Clay
  • Robert E. Warner as the Policeman Outside Theresa's apartment building


The exteriors for the film were shot partially in the United States in both New York City, New York and Savannah, Georgia which stood in for the fictitious town of Dunwich. Manhattan exterior locations were filmed mostly in the Upper West Side, including the Gothic apartment house which stood in for the character Madame Theresa's apartment which was located at the northwest corner of West 76th Street and West End Avenue. The cemetery where the character Peter Bell rescues Mary Woodhouse from her sealed coffin was filmed in an area of Calvary Cemetery overlooking Manhattan. Bonaventure Cemetery features prominently as the Dunwich Cemetery location in which Father Thomas hangs himself and where the protagonists must go to battle his entombed corpse. All of the interiors were filmed in Rome, Italy at Dear Studios.

During filming, actress Daniela Doria actually vomited sheep entrails during the intestine purging scene.[1]


United States

City of the Living Dead was released to U.S. screens in May of 1983 as The Gates of Hell through Motion Picture Marketing, a now defunct small American independent distributor. After the film was screened in Los Angeles, California with Fulci present for a Q&A, he was met with heaving booing from the very angry remaining audience.

On 25 May 2010, Blue Underground released a Blu-ray of the film, which includes the documentary Making of City of the Living Dead. A Special Edition DVD (region 1) was also released the same day, with the making-of documentary on it as well.

United Kingdom

In the early 1980s, this film was passed by the BBFC for cinema exhibition with only the infamous "head drilling" scene cut. The same X version was released on video around the same time. Post-Video Recordings Act, it was submitted to the BBFC for official video release and received further cuts to the vomiting scene and the brain crushing scenes. In 2001, it was re-submitted and passed uncut.

On 24 May 2010, Arrow Video released the definitive one-disc edition on Blu-ray and two-disc DVD.


The film was initially released uncut in Germany under the title Ein Zombie hing am Glockenseil but was banned shortly afterwards. Since then, the film has been re-released several times under various titles (Ein Toter hing am Glockenseil, Eine Leiche hing am Glockenseil, and various other international titles) in cut and uncut form. All of these releases have subsequently been banned. The only exception is a version named Ein Kadaver hing am Glockenseil which is missing nine minutes of footage and has been rated 16 by the FSK.

Critical reception[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, City of the Living Dead currently has an approval rating of 55%, and is certified "rotten".[2] Allmovie wrote that while the film "suffers from the same shortcomings present in much of Fulci's other horror films", "City of the Living Dead benefits from Fulci's ability to create and sustain an intensely creepy atmosphere", though ultimately calling the film "a dry run for the blend of graphic shocks and surrealism atmosphere that Lucio Fulci would perfect with The Beyond."[3] Time Out called the film "laughably awful", though "with its nonsensical 'plot' randomly constructed according to the illogic of fear, and its grotesque emphasis on physical mutability, fragmentation and decay, it could just conceivably be the sort of disreputable movie the surrealists would have loved."[4]


  1. ^ "Interview with Lucio Fulci". Fangoria (29). 
  2. ^ "Paura nella città dei morti viventi (City Of The Living Dead) (The Gates of Hell) (1980)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Firsching, Robert. "City of the Living Dead (1980)". Allmovie. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  4. ^ "Paura nella Città dei Morti Viventi (1980)". Retrieved 25 June 2012. 

External links[edit]