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The Gates of Hell (1980) - Blu-ray Review

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The Gates of Hell

It shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that this horror classic begins with a scream. It’s as if writer/director Lucio Fulci is already expecting the shrieking as Father William Thomas (Fabrizio Jovine) wanders aimlessly around a cemetery. The slow driving beat of the electronic score from Fabio Frizzi isn’t the only thing plodding along as the movie opens.  There is a red-eyed priest out in the cemetery, just wandering around.  Little do we know what Father Thomas has planned . . . 

"a nightmarish vision of Hell on Earth as the dead return"


. . . but no sooner does that noose go up and the dead begin to walk freely again as The Gates of Hell are open!

The crazed creepiness of The Gates of Hell (AKA City of the Living Dead) begins with a hanging in the remote village of Dunwich.  A priest takes his own life on a tree branch and the deed itself opens a portal to Hell, which he will soon rule over.  The death is felt all the way in New York City as a séance held in the apartment of psychic (Catriona MacColl) ends in death as medium Mary Woodhouse (Katriona MacColl) dies of fright.

Something is happening here , but no one is sure of exactly what it is.  A reporter Peter Bell (Christopher George) suspects something is amiss and, trusting his gut, visits the graveyard where Woodhouse is being buried.  When she awakens and the screaming starts, it is up to him to save her from the coffin.  The scene is a frightening one indeed - especially for ANYONE who suffers from claustrophobia feelings.

And that’s only the beginning in the second of four Zombie flicks from Lucio Fulci (Zombie, The Beyond) as Peter and Mary travel to Dunwich and meet up with psychiatrist Gerry (Carlo De Mejo) and his friend Sandra (Janet Agren) to close the seven gates of Hell.  Along the way, there will be Salem witch curses, drills to the head, zombies eating flesh and brains, and a satanic priest stalking victims with and without the noose.  

Connecting all the threads together for this masterpiece of terror is the one and only Fulci.  Italian director of rock and schlock Lucio Fulci may not be known as a provider of the smoothest of narratives, but – when it comes to gore and engaging sequences – his B-movie mind definitely rises to an A-level grade and no sooner are we in the midst of his maestro’s prowess for gore than when a stranger stumbles upon a house with a blow-up doll and a steaming pile of guts.The Gates of Hell

Of course, in a movie where a woman winds up puking up her own intestines, these incidental gore discoveries are to be expected and Fulci, along with fx artist Gino de Rossi, and cinematographer Sergio Salvati share the workload to create a nightmarish vision of Hell on Earth as the dead return!

The Gates of Hell is a certified classic of Horror history.  Thanks to this release, featuring a new 2020 4K color grading and restoration from Scorpion Releasing, Horror Hounds have a brand-new reason to howl at the full moon!

5/5 stars

The Gates of Hell

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Scorpion Releasing
Available on Blu-ray
- June 2, 2020
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

The Seven Gates of Hell have been torn open, and in three days the dead shall rise and walk the earth. As a reporter (Christopher George of Pieces) and a psychic (Catriona MacColl of The Beyond) race to close the portals of the damned, they encounter a seething nightmare of unspeakable evil. The city is alive - with the horrors of the living dead!

Directed and co-written by the legendary Lucio Fulci (Zombie, The Beyond), The Gates of Hell features some of the maestro's most shocking and controversial sequences of all time.

Video:

Minted from a NEW 4K scan which restores a lot of the look and sheen missing from the last release, The Gates of Hell arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Scorpion Releasing.  The restoration and hours of color grading have resulted in a dynamic-looking 1080p transfer.  From the details in the abundance of gore to the scene of the woman puking her own guts out, Fulci dares us to look away, but we cannot.  Fine detail is revelatory throughout and, even the darkest of scenes in the basement, all shadows remain within their lines.  Everything is as clear as a bell. Colors are sharp, the gore effects are bloody, and only a scant collection of hairs on the print.  All in all, a very fine piece of 4K restoration from a company that remains devoted to all things horror. 

Audio:

The soundtrack, provided by composer Fabio Frizzi, is displayed here in a crisp and dynamic DTS-Master Audio HD track.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Fans get a brand-new commentary with film historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson.  If you struggle at all with liking Italian horror, their analysis alone is worth the listen as they will set you straight.

Special Features:

If the NEW 4K RESTORATION OF THE FILM, with exclusive color grading isn’t enough to make you open your wallets, then nothing else this release has to offer will either.  This is a classic movie, made all the better with the endless amount of supplemental material provided for purchasers.

  • NEW Audio Commentary with film historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson
  • Audio Commentary with director of photography Sergio Salvati and camera operator Roberto Forges Davanzati, moderated by film professor Paolo Albiero (In Italian with English Subtitles)
  • We are the Apocalypse – an interview with writer Dardano Sacchetti
  • Through Your Eyes – an interview with actress Catriona MacColl
  • Dust in the Wind – an interview with camera operator Roberto Forges Davanzati
  • The Art of Dreaming – an interview with production designer Massimo Antonello Geleng
  • Tales of Friendship – an interview with cinematographer Sergio Salvati
  • I Walked with A Zombie – an interview with Giovanni Lombardo Radice
  • They Call Him Bombardone – an interview with special effects artist Gino De Rossi
  • The Horror Family – an interview with father and son actors Venantino and Luca Venantini
  • Building Fulci's City – a video appreciation by Stephen Thrower, author of Beyond Terror: The Films of Lucio Fulci
  • Reflections of Fulci – a new appraisal of Fulci's Gothic period by actor, writer, director Andy Nyman (Ghost Stories)
  • The Dead Are Alive! – a video essay by Kat Ellinger on Lucio Fulci and the Italian zombie cycle
  • Alternate Title Sequences
  • Trailers and TV Spots
  • Radio Spots

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4/5 stars

The Gates of Hell

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
93 mins
Director
: Lucio Fulci
Writer: Lucio Fulci, Dardano Sacchetti
Cast:
Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
From the bowels of the earth they came to collect the living...
Memorable Movie Quote: "You don't deserve help! You're a comic book version of a detective, Sergeant!"
Theatrical Distributor:
Motion Picture Marketing
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 8, 1983
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 2, 2020.
Synopsis: The Seven Gates of Hell have been torn open, and in three days the dead shall rise and walk the earth. As a reporter (Christopher George of Pieces) and a psychic (Catriona MacColl of The Beyond) race to close the portals of the damned, they encounter a seething nightmare of unspeakable evil. The city is alive - with the horrors of the living dead!

The Gates of Hell

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