From the bowels of the earth they came...to collect the living!
City of the Living Dead is the first of director and madman Lucio Fulci's unofficial "Gates of Hell" trilogy, which later went on to include The Beyond and The House By The Cemetery. It features dead priests, zombies, ancient curses, plus one guy getting a drill to the head.
All of this fooferaw is sensed by psychic Mary Woodhouse (Fulci favorite Catriona MacColl), who dies of fright during a seance. She is buried, only to come back live while being buried. In a bravura sequence, absent of gore but full of menace, a newspaper reporter investigating the case hears a weird sound and digs her up:
Great premise, right? For some reason, Fulci then deals with several sub-plots featuring other characters, and our main characters take a very relaxed approach to their mission: at one point they even talk about getting a bite to eat and taking in some of the local scenery! Um, excuse, me, aren't you guys on a deadline to, you know, prevent the end of the world?
That aside, some of the fun's most fun (read: gory) moments come from the side characters, like when another member of the undead puts a Lugosi-esque whammy on a young girl, causing her to regurgitate tons of organs right out of her mouth. Her boyfriend watches in horror, only to be rewarded by having his brain ripped out. There's also a sub-plot about a town pervert who gets murdered by an angry father of a young victimized girl. I mean, a really angry father:
Overall, COTLD is a fun, gory time, if that's your sort of thing. I'm not expert on the man's work, but there are other films of his that I've enjoyed more, and didn't have such long drawn out dull parts. The gore is right there on the screen and imaginatively conceived, as it usually is when Fulci's involved. The way other directors liked to scare audiences, or take them to other, far off worlds, Lucio Fulci liked reducing the human body to so much pulp.