And so, we finish off out second loose Italian trilogy in as many weeks; this time Fuluci's "Gates of Hell", which also included the DPP movies 'The Beyond' and 'House by the Cemetery'. Like Argento's "Three Mothers", These three films are only loosely connected, and can be watched in any order; the only connections are references to a book of magic / prophesy (The Book of Enoch) and a couple if cast members (playing different characters in each film).
In this, the first of the trilogy, the suicide of a priest opens a gate to hell in Dunwich.
Two things before we go any further.:
1. We are told (repeatedly) that Dunwich is cursed because it was by it on the ruins of Salem, and that the residents are the defendants of the original witch burners; I appreciate that the movie predates google and Wikipedia by a couple of decades, but in reasonably certain that even a cheap printed encyclopaedia would have told the writers that Salem is still standing, and still called Salem.
2. The priest no only looks uncannily like a young Christopher Lee, but is made up to be pale, with a slight redness around the eyes and brushes back dark hair. I honestly expected to see fangs every time he opened his mouth!
Back to the movie:
This suicide is 'witnessed' by a group in another part of the country, who are holding a seance - this proves to be too much for one poor young lady, who dies of fright on the spot.
Inexplicably, her death doesn't stick, and so after she is freed from her coffin by a reporter who was originally investigating her death, they head off to Dunwich together to try and close the gate to hell before All Souls' Day.
The best character (and only person in the movie who seems to be actually acting, rather than collecting a payslip) is Local simpleton Bob (John Morghen - Cannibal Apocalypse / Cannibal Ferox); not the most popular man in town, after he was once caught in the woods with a young lady (who remains his friend, so I can only guess he was with her in all innocence) Bob seems to have been branded the town pervert and scapegoat; when the people of Dunwich start dying, it isn't long before the local barflies start blaming poor old Bob.
Of course, we know that the killer isn't Bob; it's a group of super-strong, teleporting Zombies, lead by the suicide priest.
The All Souls' Day deadline, by the way, seems to be entirely arbitrary; At one point in the movie, our heroine points out that it is now All Souls' Day... But they continue anyway, and still have their final battle.
The zombies are great in this (although I'm not sure about the teleporting) with a nicely decayed look and the strength to rip the backs of people's skulls off, but it's the priest who steals the show, with his ability to fix his victims to the spot with a stare, causing their eyes to bleed and their organs to climb up out if their mouths!
The gore is top notch (duh; it's Fuluci), the plot is enjoyable, but mad (Fuluci), and the ending makes dick-all sense (again... Fuluci), but thankfully the story proper does have some resolution before the nonsensical final scene.
All in all, I feel quite happy recommending this one, but (despite the title, and the fact that it has zombies in it) don't go in expecting a 'Zombie movie' in any traditional sense.