You see, all of the heroes in this movies - from Mary Woodhouse (Catriona MacColl), Peter Bell (Christopher George) and Gerry (Carlo De Mejo) is dead. They are already in their own personal hell. With Mary it begins with her dying, there's nothing more else to it. She's saved by another spirit, the journalist Peter Bell and without any hazzle they are with our other psychic - but I think she just called on them. Together they goes to Dunwich, this almost mythological place which is impossible to find on the map. Dunwich is already hell, and maybe has been forever or from the moment the priest took suicide. It's always stormy, cloudy or dark in Dunwich, like it has it's own natural laws. You can never escape from there, the only one realizing this is Bob (Giovanni Lombardo Radice), who's going mad because he knows what's happening around them - thats why he sees a good opportunity to die when it's served to him. No fighting back, just accept that he's gonna leave this place. COTLD has a town-perv and not a town-like other small town-movies, Dagon, Dead & Buried, Messiah Of Evil etc etc.
There is never a clear plan what to do about stopping the hell to come back to earth, and when they're very fast are killing the priest in the end and all the zombies goes ups in flames, it's just way to easy. Like a trap. When they come up from the underground againt he weather hasn't changed. It's foggy like... hell. When the little boy, the child - the symbol of innocence) comes running towards them, happy and by the looks of it, unaffected by that everyone around him has died - they realise it's just gonna go in circles, that they are still in this nightmare and it will never end.
Or it might just be a confusing, gory Italian shock-flick. But still, there's something behind the lack of logic, something behind the emotionless characters accepting the death and grue around them. It's not bad exploitation-acting, it's strong direction from Maestro Lucio Fulci. But enough analyzing. I actually can say that this movie just climbed up one notch on my list of favorite Fulci's. I never felt connected to it when I watched it on tape (both the uncut Vipco-version that was released once, and the cut Video Invest) or the Vipco DVD (uncut, widescreen, but terrible quality), but finally I somehow "got it".
I felt I finally could get into the rythm, appreciate the madness and the (as usual) brilliant direction my Lucio Fulci. The coffin-scene could be one of the best ever shot for an Italian horror movie, with some fucking amazing visual ideas (the wind blowing on the rose leave, her breath creating moist on the mirror, the axe coming down right through the coffin-lid, so close to her head...), gorgeous cinematography by Salvati (no one could have shot the scenes in the apartment of the psychic so moody and filled with atmosphere like him!) and tense music by Fabio Frizzi. It's still not the best movie Fulci made, and it feels rushed and a bit sloppy, but the good stuff is a lot more than the bad stuff.
The gore? Yeah, it's not that much. The two main gore scenes are classics in their own right, but except that it's quite dry on the blood and gore. Sure, there's some slime and maggots, but compared to other Italian horror movies it's quite sparse. But like all Fulci-movies the gore isn't that important really. We all love it, but if he hadn't filmed it no one would have missed it either. He's such a good storyteller and creator of atmospheric filth.
But the work of Fulci, yes, the genius of storyteller Fulci reminds me of one of Kurt Vonnegut's advices when it comes to writing a good story: "Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them - in order that the reader may see what they are made of". That was something Fulci could handle more than well, to a degree that some people thought he was a misogynist and a cynic, when all that he did was to show us how humanity really is.