Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Gates of Hell...Again!

The Skeletal Spotlight shines this time on:
The Gates of Hell video box
(Click images to enlarge.)

Back in the day, the early 80's to be more precise about which day we're talking about, certain video releases came out in oversized boxes. These make good collector's items today. The only example I have of this is of my favorite Fulci film, "The Gates of Hell" as it was known back in the aforementioned day. Sure, we have the DVD now, with the original title "City of the Living Dead," but to us aging gorehounds it's still known as "Gates."

Since yesterday's post was such fun, and so popular, I took out my camera and snapped these images of the front and back of the box, just in case you might like to see it. And I took out the DVD and grabbed some 20 or so frames from it to share some of my favorite images from the movie. In case you haven't yet seen it, I hope these images will pique your interest and cause you to seek it out.. and if you have for the umpteenth time as I have, then I'm sure you'll enjoy seeing them again.


The misty cemetery scene sets the foreboding tone for the film. The music during this scene really enhances the mood as the disturbed priest searches for just the right limb.


The mysterious tombstone that seems to be the center of the brewing trouble. It's never explained, but one gets the impression that the priest is aware of the prophetic nature of the incantation and is fulfilling it. At the very least the headstone engraver made a few extra dollars on all that extra text.


Obviously having missed a lot of sleep, or with the ragweed pollen allergy is kicking in, our poor disillusioned and backslidden priest chooses just the right spot to offer the final unholy sacrifice. His blasphemous act will open the local Gate of Hell and empower him to act as leader of the restless dead.


Amidst the moans and groans of the rising dead, which creepily include a crying baby, the first corpse to rise is the one only covered under leaves in a slight depression. Still, the image is powerful and is the one that most of the international posters were inspired by.


A chilling scene as the prematurely buried and traumatized Mary is first seen through the pickaxe-pried wood. It really give you a horrible feeling as she is revealed and screams!

The Famous Gut-Barfing Scene:

Confronted by the ghost of the undead priest, a necking couple become the first victims.

It starts with blood coming from her eyes, a terrific effect. I don't know how she kept from blinking the whole time! I'm assuming that the "blood" is being pumped in from the sides, the tubes covered by her hair. The same effect happens at the end of the movie again, and it's even more convincing.


After some bloody foam, the first batch of intestines begins to slowly exit her mouth. Actress Daniele Doria's own intestinal fortitude is stronger than mine, having stuffed the sheep guts in there for the scene. The long-suffered actress was "killed" in interesting ways by Fulci in three of his other movies. What a trooper!


The guts continue to slowly unfold and drop out as the gagging and squelching sounds enhance the effect. If you aren't making some of your own gagging sounds by this point, you've either got a stomach of steel or you've seen it too many times.


Once the backup is cleared, the larger intestines and organs slide out rapidly. They are accompanied by your last meal as you watch and listen. Accomplished by using a dummy head, the final exodus of what appears to be the stomach is usually what sends my first-time guest viewers running to the bathroom.


Her aghast and sickened boyfriend gets a brain squeeze applied. Below is a YouTube video of the scene, for your viewing enjoyment! WARNING: if you have never seen it, have a vomit bag nearby! Not for the squeamish, as they say.




This right here is one of the most disturbing zombie images on film. The same girl that lost her innards has come back to haunt her little brother. Talk about cold!

Besides the obvious New York locations, some of the movie exteriors were also filmed in Savannah, GA during July and August of 1980. What really, really irks me is that I was actually living in Savannah at the time! If only I had known. I mentioned this on the last post, but this time I have pictures from the movie scene and closer location pics to match, so it's not a repeat of the same info.


This scene was filmed on the lower level of Factor's Walk in Savannah. It's between the bluff and the River Street buildings. Notice the archways to the right which lead to underground storage areas, now used for parking. Compare to the picture below...


This postcard shows almost the exact angle of the first scene!


The photo above of the same location shows where the boy first ran onto the street under the bridges after coming down the steps, which are on the right around the corner of the building, which is actually the Courthouse. He ran up the street under the bridges. You can see the same archways on the right that were visible in the first photo.


Above is a reverse angle after coming down the stairs, and starting the run up the street. The bottom of the Courthouse building in the last photo can be seen in the background.


The second bridge in the above photo is where the zombie pictured below leaps down from.

After athletically leaping from the bridge (these zombies are in excellent shape), the former boyfriend of Miss Oral Evisceration accosts the innocent boy. Michele Soavi played the character, and he went on later to direct and star in other horror movies.


A maggot storm, completely unforeseen by the Weather Service, blows in through a window, prompting more puking. The noisy larvae stick in clumps to our heroes, as if glued on... which they were. I'm just wondering where they got that many live maggots! I'm betting they were meal worms or something, bought at a local wholesale bait supply company.


There's that girl again. She scares me.


A brain tissue sample is painlessly extracted by Sandra, one of our former heroines. Painless for her, that is. It seems quite excruciating to our reporter, however. And who knew rats dig brain food?


"And when they got home, there, on the passenger-side door handle... there hung... a BLOODY HOOK!!!" The undead priest always illuminated his face from below with his flashlight for spooky effect.


Setting the department store manniquins on fire didn't require massive amounts of very visible protective clothing as the stuntmen did.


The entire world is destroyed. The End. At least, that's what is inferred... reality fractures and breaks down as the membrane between Earth and the Beyond is ruptured by the passage of the priest. Ri-i-i-ight. In reality, Fulci credits the unfathomable ending to editor Vincenzo Tomassi, who came up with the reality-cracking scene after the original footage was accidentally destroyed. I'd just be happy knowing what the last scene was supposed to be! What was so horrifying? As with how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop, the world may never know.

Look out, "Dunwich!" Here I come!

Newsflash: I have only recently learned where the opening cemetery scene was filmed in Savannah. As soon as I get there and take some photos, I will post them on this blog and I'll report every goosebump I get. I'll try to also take some video and post it as well. It should be very soon!

Well, that's it. I enjoyed scanning through the movie collecting these images, and it made me want to sit down some dark night soon and watch it again. Hope it did the same for you!

1 comment:

Karswell said...

I'm definitely hyped to watch it again now Fred... these kind of location posts (with side by side shots of actual vs filmed locale) always get me excited. Nice double post, Hallowed Haunting Grounds be damned!