Ultraviolent Gothic Visions: Lucio Fulci’s ‘Gates of Hell’ Trilogy as Derridean Cinematic Haunted Spaces

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-213
JournalGothic Studies
Volume22
Issue number2
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Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2020
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This article examines films produced by the Italian director Lucio Fulci between 1980 and 1981: City of the Living Dead/Paura nella città dei morti viventi (1980), The Beyond/L'aldilà (1981), and The House by the Cemetery/Quella villa accanto al cimitero (1981). Unofficially termed the Gates of Hell trilogy, the films stress a distinctive gothic sensibility brought together by the vivid and extreme subjects of decay and unflinching depictions of ultraviolent death and bodily destruction. The article explores the gothic motifs of the film series from the perspective of the work of Jacques Derrida. It argues that Fulci establishes a unique and highly stylized neo-gothic vision in his ‘trilogy’ that reflects a hauntological ethos, and effectively a distinctively Derridean evocation of the gothic, but with a sustained focus upon Derrida's deconstructive concept of ‘Undecidability.’ In the Gates of Hell trilogy the idea of undecidability is a persistent and compelling subject actively woven into the narratives through the gothic elements that infuse their extreme violence, the supernatural, the irrational, and the frequently surreal cinematic visions that Fulci conjures.

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