‘City of the Living Dead’ is a 1980 Lucio Fulchi film that is also known by the names ‘Paura nella città dei morti viventi‘ and ‘Fear in the City of the Living Dead‘. This is the first film in what has become known as the ‘Gates of Hell’ trilogy (which also includes ‘The Beyond‘ and ‘The House by the Cemetery‘).
The somewhat fractured plot centers around a small New England town where a priest commits suicide by hanging himself after accidentally opening the gates of Hell, allowing the dead to return. A reporter teams up with a psychic, a psychiatrist (and their patient) to unravel the mystery and attempt to close the gates of Hell before all the dead in the world rise up to kill the living.
To be honest the film isn’t one of Fulchi’s best, but it is steeped in atmosphere, imagery, and a eerie cinematography that sticks in the mind more than the acting, script, or special effects do.
Lucio Fulchi one again enlisted the talents of longtime collaborator Fabio Frizzi to create the soundtrack.
Frizzi’s soundtrack for this movie is far more stylistically closer to prog-rock, than the synthesizer experimentation and jungle drumming that was the hallmark of his famous ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters‘ soundtrack. It is the guitar and bass that take center-stage in the score for ‘City of the Living Dead’, with the electric guitar also being used to create screams and unsettling wails, and some of the discordant sounds that Frizzi had previously created on synthesizers and other instruments. A big twanging and throbbing bass is also a prominent feature of this score and the soundtrack also contains a couple of bass heavy cinematic style funk tracks.
The soundtrack also features plenty of Frizzi signature sounds from the era – for example, there is a very effective use of choral and wordless vocals/chants that never fail to create an atmosphere of dread and doom.
There are also a couple of tracks that sound like they have come from the same sessions that produced the score for ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters‘.
The track ‘Apoteosi del mistero‘ (‘Mystery’s Apotheosis’) sounds like the fraternal twin of Frizzi’s famous theme from ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters‘ – hugely alike, but not quite the same. The track has the same equipment and instrumentation, it features a similar sounding male choral chant, the drum beat is identical, the synthesizer comes in at the same time, and the melody sounds like a variation on the original – this is no bad thing, it’s a wonderful and atmospheric piece of music, and will keep Frizzi fans happy. It just doesn’t sound like it came from the same session as the rest of the album and sits at odds stylistically to some of the other tracks on it. Check it out below:
Apoteosi del mistero / Mystery’s Apotheosis
The good news for horror fans is that this soundtrack has been in print for a while and there have been a few recent releases that have lavished special attention on it producing really nice collector’s vinyl, and extended releases.
A1 Introduzione-Paura-Liberazione 4:10
A2 Fatti Misteriosi 2:53
A3 Irrealtà Di Suoni 2:55
A4 Occhi Di Brace 3:16
A5 Verso L’Alba 1:46
B1 Apoteosi Del Mistero 3:55
B2 Suoni Dissonanti 2:54
B3 Paura Vivente 1:25
B4 Paura E Liberazione 2:36
B5 Tenebre Viventi 2:16
You can see the track list and album art above – we have chosen to show the sleeve art and track-listing from the original 1982 release on Beat Records, but recent releases on labels like Stella records from Italy, and Death Waltz records in the UK have featured extended track lists and a suite of the score.
- Paura Nella Città Dei Morti Viventi – Beat Records Company (Italy, 1982)
- Storie Di Paura – Canopo (Italy, 1984)
- Ein Zombie Hing Am Glockenseil (CD) – CMV Laservision (Germany, 2003)
- Fear In The Town Of The Living Dead (MP3) – Octopus Records (Italy, 2011)
- City Of The Living Dead (LP) – Death Waltz Recordings (UK, 2014)
- Paura Nella Città Dei Morti Viventi (LP) – Stella (Italy, 2014)
- Paura Nella Città Dei Morti Viventi (CD) – Beat Records (Italy, 2014)
You can hear the full soundtrack below – this is taken from the 2014 Stella release with extra tracks.
Listen to the full soundtrack