Monday, August 23, 2010

City of the Living Dead: Can't Say I Didn't Try.

Well here I am. Watching another Fulci film and trying to understand what exactly it is about them that does not sit well with me. As best as I can tell, I think my taste buds just do not take to Fulci the way others do. Some people like mushrooms, some people don't. Perhaps the better film to food analogy for me is that while most people dig really spicy Mexican food---I do not. Therefore while most people really dig Fulci films--I do not. See? Perfect sense. From a more logical stand point, I think my mind has a really hard time finding something to take away from a Fulci film. So far after seeing Zombi 2, The Beyond, Cat in the Brain, and The Black Cat (which was a mistake in more than one way) I can't remember ever feeling legitimately creeped out by anything. Nothing made me feel uneasy and I can't remember feeling very affected. It's weird for me to say that because I can very easily get creeped out- and what's more, a lot of people cite some of these films as being insanely creepy. So why dammit can't I feel the same way?

I used to think my main distaste for Fulci came from the fact that I am not a horror fan who thrives on the existence of gore and...stuff. I define myself as someone who can appreciate gore and who loves the aesthetic quality more than anything. When films rely solely on that gore I find that my attention wavers and I'm left with little to talk or get excited about. I would still believe this if it wasn't for that little nagging voice telling me that people love Fulci films who also do not necessarily care about gore. Therein lies my confusion. Something must be genetically wrong with me I guess.

Anyways. A priest hangs himself and opens up the gates of hell, allowing really strong zombies to roam the earth and kill people. That's all you really need to know. I've found that simplifying these Italian plots is the key to a better enjoyment, although it still doesn't make me feel any better about what the hell was going on.

First off let's get it out of the way. This movie made me feel really nauseous. Nothing upsets me more in this world than seeing a scene involving vomiting and reading IMDB trivia to find out that that was real vomiting. Vomiting up sheep entrails nonetheless. Yeah. This does two things to me. It makes me absolutely repulsed that an actress would actually do that and I get angry that I'll never be able to remove that image from my head. I knew that people talked about that scene as being gross (BJ-C even brought it up in our dual post) but I had no IDEA that there would be gross belching sounds and....realness. Ugh. I guess that experience put a damper on things. Then there's plenty of skulls being ripped open, rats eating brains, liquefied bodies with worms, and a snow storm of maggots.


There was even a little scene that suddenly made me realize how much I hate fingernail trauma.



Gah! I really hate that. But see all these things made me like the film even less. This gore is not enjoyable. I can't even begin to enjoy a film where the gore makes me feel physically ill. I just can't. And I rarely get physically ill, I should mention. I watched people eating poop for Christ's sake so don't get all judgey wudgey on me. Fulci's moments of gore are extended way beyond the normal boundaries of mankind. Forcing your audience to look at something disgusting for 5 minutes makes little sense to me.


Moving on to things I can appreciate. I really enjoyed that scene where all the bodies are waking up in the crypt and they come out all old and skeleton-like. We need more of that. I noticed this when watching Return of the Living Dead recently, walking skeletons are really neat. They've got stringy hair and are all decrepit--I love that. I'm sick of all these zombies who look like they just dropped dead yesterday. Even the ones who weren't skeletons were all pus filled and moldy. It felt genuine. As genuine as dead people that can walk gets I suppose. I also should say I did get creeped out one time, when we saw the priest hanging before the dreaded puke scene.
Don't you hate when you are starting your car up in the dark, and turn on the headlights and see a dead priest swinging from a rafter? Me too. I guess this stems from me hating seeing hanging people, but that really just was creepy as hell. I also enjoy when glass bleeds.
Now I know I said before that I'm done trying to make sense of things in these films, but I really can't get over the fact that the walking dead can be gotten rid of so easily. Just a stick in the stomach and poof--no more city of the living dead. I also can't figure out why that guy drilled through that guy's head. Talk about overreacting. Which brings up another important question, who the hell was that guy? I thought he was a dead person as soon as he came on the screen. Actually I rephrase that question, who the hell was anybody? I have no idea who was who or when they got introduced or what they were doing there. You've got our guy with a beard, guy that saves girl from coffin, Psychic girl, and other blonde girl. Then little kid, whose sister was....puking out intestines girl? I don't know. I don't know who anyone was. This is also bothersome.

Yes there was "atmosphere", fog machines, creepy monkeys or birds or something in the trees, and dead people. But let's get real--the dead people really don't make an appearance for quite some time. We see that one corpse rise pretty early on in the film and then nothing comes of it. Instead we get stupid characters, talking about stupid things. Bah I'm getting bitter again.

Basically, I find that I have once again come to a dead end when faced with a Fulci film. Berate me all you want but I can't help it if I don't like really spicy Mexican food. I don't even really like Mexican food THAT much. There, I said it. Next time, thanks to some recommendations via Twitter--I will watching some earlier Giallo of the Fulci. Let's see if this will solve my problems of self loathing and distaste. Fingers crossed. Oh! I forgot one more thing I really hate--that fucking music! It wasn't creepy to me it was just really really annoying. *Dun dun DRUM BEAT dun dun DRUM BEAT* It made me want to ram my head into a wall. Okay that's all.

17 comments:

Drunketh said...

I'm at a loss for words...

Andre said...

Sorry for your loss in words! There's still hope though.

Stacie Ponder said...

We all like what we like, and you raise valid points about the film.

BUT YOU HATED THE MUSIC?? Now you've gone too far! Forewarning: You will also hate IN SATAN'S CLOSET, then, should you watch it when I have finished it. BAH!

Andre said...

Hmmm We may be referring to different music. I can only recall the one with the couple of notes that was you know like I described. I think it's in the trailer. But maybe there was different music? No? Hmmm
I guess it was just very much of the same thing the whole time. Nothing really changed with it, and it felt in many ways like a good companion to the scenes of just dialogue and "looking"--you know where nothing happens. Anticipation giving way to nothing. YEAH. I'm sorry I usually like most music but this just felt so dry!

JC said...

Fulci, to me, is like any piece of art that nobody really understands but tries to explain as if they do. You feel like there's some deep metaphor buried deep within every non-sensical piece. And of crouse, fans will thumb their noses at you if you 'don't get it.'
Then, years later, the creator is interviewed and says (in a hard to place accent), "what? That? I was piss drunk and found it scribbled when I woke up. To me it means: Don't drink so much"
I enjoy some of his work, but, more in a 'shut-your-brain-off' kind of way.

The Mike said...

I get where you're coming from, Andre. I struggled with this one too, and while I ended up getting through it and kinda liking it as a "well, it passed the time" movie, I didn't see the greatness. I do, like Stacie, dig the music, though.

As for other Fulci, the only one I really remember liking was Zombie. Rest of the time I'm just not as interested as I am during an Argento or Bava.

B-Movie Becky said...

Yeah, I'm beginning to feel more and more like you about Fulci as time goes on. I've enjoyed only a couple of his films and hated many more. Haven't seen City of the Living Dead yet though.

Andre said...

Thanks Becky and The Mike! Glad to know I'm not alone. I agree The Mike, Zombie is really the only one I've sort of liked--even though it took me about 3 tries to get into it!

WGON Helicopter said...

I actually liked The Beyond more than this one. The music was even better in that one. I did think the supervillain priest was pretty creepy, though.

I just don't want to live in this City of the Living Dead. I'd much rather like the City of the Hot Fudge Sundaes.

Chris Regan said...

I think the only justification for Fulci is that he wanted his films to feel like nightmares - so they're high on atmosphere and low on logic. I think The Beyond is the only film where he really succeeded with this. Some of the others nearly get there, and I actually think City of the Living Dead comes close, but in The Beyond the dreamlike nonsensical nature of the film actually seems intentional, whereas it seems more random in his other works - like he just didn't care enough about the story to make sure it worked.

Andre said...

I should watch The Beyond again. I watched it back in December but I honestly can't remember feeling that unnerved by it or recalling that it was particularly nightmarish. I think the problem was that I was concentrating too hard on trying to make sense of the story. I'll watch it again with a more relaxed outlook!

matango said...

I believe he was stabbed with a cross.

Note to ultimate evil: If vulnerable to religious objects, do not keep religious objects around. See also, City of the Dead (1960).

I've never gotten into Fulci either. The plots make too little sense for me.

Andre said...

The priest was stabbed with a cross. But other blonde woman was stabbed just with a sharp object!

Adam said...

Don't give up on Fulci. I felt the same until I watched "Lizard in a Woman's Skin," "The Psychic" and "Perversion Story." They aren't reliant on gore, but plenty of atmosphere and style.

Andre said...

Thanks Adam! I got that same advice by some of my Twitter friends. I think you are right and need to search for better atmosphere centric and less gore centric films. Thanks for the recommendations!

dergolem said...

For fans of Fulci (which I am a big one), his genius lies in his timing of a scene where the horror is stretched out in a slow, almost dreamlike atmosphere where the watcher eventually feels a sense of immobility and entrapment. Watch how slow his creatures are - yet the watcher and even the preyed upon in the film are paralyzed. And what better premise than a Catholic priest needing to hang himself in order to open the gates of hell.

commodore sixty four said...

Ive gotten burned by lucio fulci too many times to mention and the only movie of his i liked was zombie. this lured me in with the title i thought it was a zombie film but its nothing of the sort .I do like the part where a guy drills a kids brain out because he caught him smoking pot with his daughter( seemed kind of harsh)