Tag Archives: Lucio Fulci

Shark versus Zombie


It’s Shark Week again and idiots thinking a whole week of shark shows on the Discovery Channel is intelligent are enjoying lazy times in front of the boob tube. I am one of those idiots – I always end up watching at least one or two shark shows during Shark Week. While watching a show called Sharkman, where some moron tries to hypnotize a Great White I couldn’t help thinking about the infamous Shark versus Zombie scene from Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2.

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The Beyond

“This hotel is one of the seven gateways to hell.”

I was surprised when I saw that Turner Classic Movies was showing Italian director Lucio Fulci’s 1981 (released in America in 1983) cult classic The Beyond on basic cable. The film’s grotesquely violent, containing some of the most intense violence I’ve seen in many films; they’re definitely some of Fulci’s most violent moments. TCM didn’t really censor anything either; the picture and sound is extraordinary and it contains all the violence that appears on the Anchor Bay DVD version. Naturally I recorded it.

The film begins in the early 20th century when a group of enraged townspeople torture and crucify a warlock. The scene is rather violent, with the mob lashing him and finally hanging him to die. Fast forward 60 years and a young woman named Liza (Katherine MacColl) just inherits the hotel the warlock died in. The hotel is Liza’s “last chance,” to make something good for herself. After the mysterious Emily (Sarah Keller), a blind woman with extremely pale eyes, an uncanny knowledge of Liza and the hotel, and a seeing eye dog named Dicky, arrives and warns Liza to leave, bad things start to happen. The hotel is one of the seven gates of hell, nestled over this quaint, rundown hotel. Along the way Liza meets Dr. John McCabe (David Warbeck), who’s skeptical of Liza’s supernatural stories and the two loosely bond throughout the film. The film is a mixture of Italian zombie fare and supernatural thriller, containing all the traits common to Fulci’s films – extreme gore, decent cinematography and lighting, and horrible, yet sometimes comedic dubbing. Zombi II contains a metaphysical explanation for the zombie outbreak and The Beyond also follows a similar thread; relying on unexplained phenomenon instead of concrete, corporeal explanations.
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The Walking Dead episode 3

Episode three: “Tell it to the Frogs.”

“You take that stupid hat and go back to On Golden Pond.”

The episode begins on the department store roof from the second episode. From above the camera focuses in on Merle (Michael Rooker), handcuffed to a pipe. Merle has a problem: the keys fell down a drainpipe on the previous episode and the only thing separating him from a horde of zombies is a door barricaded with a lock and chain. Merle relates a story to himself, about punching somebody’s teeth out, the time he served for it; a look of genuine satisfaction on his face. This quickly turns sour, as Merle pleads to Jesus; acknowledging his past behavior but still begging for forgiveness. Merle’s going through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief originally discussed in the book On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). Following Merle’s bargaining, depression sets in and finally leads to acceptance. This is where Merle’s survival instinct kicks in and he uses his belt, attempting to reach a saw left behind by T-Dog (IronE Singleton).

Unlike the prelude from the first two episodes, this episode doesn’t feature gratuitous sex or violence. That doesn’t negate how frightening the scene is, since Merle’s actions (wonderfully executed by Rooker) are quite honest; I’m sure the best of us would react similarly in the same spot. Seeing another person at their most vulnerable is awful, displaying how Frank Darabont’s rendition of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead is a multi-faceted television series. It’s cinematic, explores many features of fear and terror, and investigates social issues. Instead of relying on non-stop action The Walking Dead is primarily a character piece, exploring character traits, morality, and the human experience. Of course an army of the living dead is an excellent catalyst for watching the show in the first place, but I’ve always found the people in zombie stories more fascinating than the gore itself. This week’s episode gives you just that. It’s a character piece, furthering the protagonist and surrounding players. The episode still features a good deal of violence, but it takes a back seat.
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City of the Living Dead: The Gates of Hell

I know gore hounds everywhere praise Lucio Fulci, dubbing him, “the godfather of gore,” and a variety of other trite titles. I like some of his movies. Zombie (Zombi 2 in Italy) and The Beyond are highly entertaining, yet I’ve always felt his work is a little underdeveloped. Many of his scenes end before anything happens; it’s like he doesn’t know how to complete a scene, therefore he stops them prematurely. Whether this is intentional – to maximize horror by removing the object of the viewer’s gaze – or unintentional isn’t something I can find much on (maybe I’m looking in the wrong places). Chau Balun’s book Lucio Fulci: Beyond the Gates doesn’t give much insight into Fulci’s constant usage of this technique; in fact, Balun’s meager exploration of Fulci’s work doesn’t provide much insight at all. Instead it gives a superficial historic overview of Fulci’s work, never divulging anything relevant to the director’s thematic motivations or compositional choices. What it does convey is Fulci’s outlook on filmmaking itself. Instead of an analytic approach to horror, Fulci asserts his “nightmares are made of passion,” preferring Poe over Lovecraft.
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