Lucio Fulci fans » Discussions

The Gates of Hell trilogy

  • December 26, 2018
    Lucio Fulci is most widely known for his "Gates of Hell" trilogy so it makes sense to make this the first forum topic. The 3 films "City of the Living Dead", "The Beyond", and "The House By the Cemetery" although standalone and have entirely different stories; share 1 common thematic element in that they involve one of the 7 Gates of Hell being opened and the dead returning to feast on the living.

    City of the Living Dead (1980)

    During a seance in New York City, a psychic medium named Mary witnesses a priest committing suicide by hanging himself in the church cemetery of the small town of Dunwich which opens the gates of hell allowing the dead to rise. Mary screaming hysterically of a "City of the Dead" suddenly dies. Peter, a New York City reporter, trying to get a story about the mysterious death eventually visits the grave of Mary just as the gravediggers are going on lunch break. Suddenly she regains consciousness and starts screaming and Peter axes into the coffin (almost killing her) to rescue her.

    After some convincing Peter finally decides to accompany Mary to the town to close the Gates of Hell by killing the original priest before All Saints Day (which on that day the dead would rise all over the world) and save the town. In Dunwich mysterious unexplained deaths start occurring and there's a subplot in which the blame is placed on the village idiot and pervert Bob who eventually meets a gruesome end involving an electric drill when caught by one of the townspeople who believe him to be responsible.

    The Beyond (1981)

    We start this film in the "Seven Doors hotel" in the year 1927 which a lynch mob raids to confront an artist named Schweick in the basement whom they believe to be a Warlock so they kill him gruesomely by crucifying him and throwing a white substance possibly acid over him causing him to melt and the Gates of Hell to open. Fast forward to 1980 Liza Merrill, a young woman from New York City, inherits the hotel and plans to re-open it. Her renovation work activates the hell portal, and she contends with increasingly strange incidents and deaths involving zombies, acid and tarantulas.

    A blind woman named Emily with a guide dog mysteriously appears and tries to convince her not to re-open the hotel although only Liza seems to be able to see Emily and notice the strange things occurring such as visions of the previous owner's corpse which makes her question her sanity. Later the corpses corner Emily and she refuses to go back with them (revealing her to be from the other side) she is then brutally killed by her own dog. After a showdown escaping a hoard of zombies in a hospital Liza and John become cornered and are lured to the basement and eventually end up in a dreary desolate Hell for presumably all eternity.

    The House By the Cemetery (1981)

    The film begins with a woman trespassing in an abandoned house looking for her boyfriend. After she discovers his body stabbed with scissors and hung on the door, she is stabbed in the head with a knife from behind, and her body is dragged through a cellar door by a killer whose face is not shown.

    Fast forward to present day In New York, Dr. Norman Boyle assumes the research about Dr. Freudstein of his colleague Dr. Petersen, who committed suicide after apparently killing his mistress. Norman heads to Boston with his wife Lucy Boyle and their son Bob to live in an isolated house in the woods that belonged to Dr. Petersen. Bob befriends a little girl Mae that only he can see and she warns him to leave the house. Soon his parents hire the mysterious babysitter Ann and strange things happen in the house and Lucy starts to question her sanity which prompts her demanding to move to the estate agents.

    A female estate agent eventually comes to the house to tell them of a new available property but no one is home as the family are in hospital after Norman was bitten by a bat. Suddenly the floor caves in trapping the estate agent and she is then murdered. The family later return none the wiser to what had happened earlier or that the estate agent was even there. Norman learns that Dr. Freudstein was a Victorian Surgeon who conducted illegal experiments and he decides to travel to New York to further his research on him. Ann goes to the basement looking for Bob and is decapitated. Bob witnessing this tells his mother who refuses to believe his story.

    Later Bob goes into the basement in search of Ann and gets locked in so he screams for his mother who tries to break the door down. Meanwhile Norman learns from a tape recorded by Dr. Petersen that Dr. Freudstein is in the basement undead the 150-year-old Freudstein lives by using his victims' parts to regenerate blood cells. He returns and tries to rescue Bob with Lucy. Both are killed, Bob manages to escape Freudstein from a crack in the basement wall. He then is confronted by the Mae and Mrs Freudstein (Revealing Mae to be Dr. Freudstein's daughter). The three then walk off into the distance an ending that is open to interpretation.